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You thought you have seen it all, have a look at this deck !!!

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  1. #1
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    Default You thought you have seen it all, have a look at this deck !!!

    This is one of the worst built decks I have EVER SEEN, you have to see the pictures to understand how bad it is.

    The story starts this client wanted us to add some Merbau and stainless balustrade to their existing deck, Fairly straight forward job (or it should be), the pics will explain all.
    Went around to measure up, and noticed it to be of poor quality construction, had a picture frame but the miters were so far open that you could fit a screw through one side of them (see pics).

    Asked the client how old it was, response nearly 2 months, asked who built it ie: did you build it yourself, oh no no it was built by a carpenter, my response was, This was NOT built by a carpenter, was very bouncy and one of hte poorest quality finishes I have ever seen.

    They swear he was licensed and was a carpenter, This guy is Definitely not Licensed and Absolutely NOT a carpenter.

    Anyway, got the job, ordered the timbers, and yesterday started, first thing was to remove the picture frame and some boards so we could attach the new posts, the next two days was like opening up a pandoras box and it just kept getting worse.

    Taking the picture frame off was not hard as it literally fell off, looked underneath to find almost nothing sturdy to attache the posts to, there was bits of timber sat on top of each other, bits cut too short so another was just butted next to it but no support for the join, just basically sitting there ready to fall apart.

    Once I removed the picture frame, first thing I did was ring the client and said, sorry, I cannot do the job for the price quoted, as it will require some major surgery to get enough support for the new posts so they don't simply blow over in the next wind.

    Client said, yes I understand it has not been built very well, do what you need to do to get the rails in, again I asked who built this, do you have his card, name phone number, Oh yes my wife has all the details she will pass them onto you, ok no problem.

    Below is an extensive list of the problems I found with this particular deck, and I'm not sure how it's actually standing (see pics)

    Used 140x19 Merbau boards, and butted these tight, so tight in fact that we had to use the hammer to get any boards out, they are already cupping !!!

    Picture frame miters off cut by about 4mm (see pics)

    Picture frame was kept in line with the subframe (if you can call it that) so the subframe is fully exposed and cannot be covered as the boards stop at the subframe.

    Bunnings sell posts with plastic wrap on them, and this is the first time I have seen the plastic left on and the posts put into the concrete still wrapped !!!!!!

    Posts holding the bearers are OUTSIDE the subrame so you can see these from the deck !!!

    Joist centers are 640mm, yes 640mm, and are all over the shop, no consistency on these

    90x45 used as joists and spanned 2500mm , put these spans in my AS program, and even if you put 4 90x45 joined next to each other, the rating at a modest 40kg/m2 is 137% over spec, and this is with 4 not one, deflection was 11mm with 4 !!! the program recommended 190x35 minimum.

    Non Galvanised Anka screws used to hold it to the wall, 8mm used and spaced at 1500 between each Anka screw (see pics) - Unbelievable

    Non galvanised nails used to hold it together, they have already started to rust badly

    32mm non Galvanised chipboard screws used to hold the Joist hangers on, and only 3 of these per side (see pic)

    90x45 used as a hanger to hang the 90x45 joists which are spanning 2500, the hanger is only held in with a few nails, and the hangers are only in with 3 chipboard screws.

    90x45 used as bearers spanning 1500 !!

    Obviously did not own a tape measure, or understand basic mathematics as 20mm fill in pieces were put at the end of the 140 boards

    Lay's boards with the cuts right next to each other (see pics)

    First step off the deck is 260mm, 2nd is 215mm, 3rd is 190, told you he didn't own a tape.

    Snapped screws everywhere

    No pre drilling of boards so has split most of the ends,the problems just go on and on

    No joist protectors

    Basically this deck is a time bomb waiting to happen, and even after explaining all the problems to the client they still wanted to get the rails on !!!!, fair enough I will still install them, but the rest of the deck is shot.

    To top it off the deck is just on 25sqm, he charged them $8900, that works out at $356 per sqm with no Handrails, and got CASH.

    I kept pressuring them to tell me who did it, as my brother works for NSW Fair Trading, still could not get anything from them.
    In the end they said it was a not very well speaking english person, who did some work inside their house (She showed me the work and it was rubbish)

    He used to be a Sports Teacher in his country, and came here a few years ago and decided he was going to be a carpenter

    Im sorry I didn't know it was that easy, I think I might be a lawyer tomorrow, it sounds like a good idea.
    They said he originally had a quote which had a license number on it, but took this with him when they accepted the price and they never saw it again, obviously was not his license number.

    I am absolutely disgusted there are people out there who do this type of work, and charge a bomb for it, in this particular area of Sydney I have lost a lot of work, because they say I can get someone cheaper to do the same.
    HELLO, it will not be the same as what I would have offered them, my decks will hold up a Sherman tank and not move, this one is like a trampoline, and now I see WHO is getting this work.

    The materials would have cost ZIP to build this, probably found most of it in the tip.
    From a distance it looks ok, not until you step on it and look slightly closely you cas see the problems.

    The worrying thing is their having an engagement part in a few weeks, and I have warned them about 50 times, DO NOT PUT ANYONE ON THE DECK, because it is going to collapse.

    But at the end of the day if they wont help me and let me know who did this I cannot do anything, it was done with no council involvement as a complying development so cant track it from them.
    The comment was made we don't want to get him in trouble, for goodness sake wake up to yourself, would you prefer to have one of your relatives hurt when it collapses or get this idiot in trouble for building things like this.

    In the end the rails look good, but what's the point when the rest is rubbish.


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  2. #2
    1K Club Member Random Username's Avatar
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    I hope your quote/invoice to them did a good CYA and stated that the existing work appears to be structurally unsound and should be remediated before it collapses under load and injures someone. Personally, I'd fire off a notification to the local council as collapsing decks have been a bit of a hot topic in the last few years.

    Any clue to which country the aspiring carpenter was from???
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  3. #3
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Username View Post
    I hope your quote/invoice to them did a good CYA and stated that the existing work appears to be structurally unsound and should be remediated before it collapses under load and injures someone. Personally, I'd fire off a notification to the local council as collapsing decks have been a bit of a hot topic in the last few years.

    Any clue to which country the aspiring carpenter was from???
    They just said, Middle East, im not sure about this one, it sounds more like a relative may have built it, as they did not seem overly concerned with what I was telling them and how important it was to rectify the problems immediately ??

    I have agreed to give them a report of what needs to be rectified and to give the no hoper the chance to come back and remedy it.
    Problem is he would not know how to implement the recommendations as this is the standard it was built with the little knowledge he has.

    I have told them not to use it, and will be putting this in writing.

  4. #4
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    Just make sure you include what work you completed, the failure to meet standards, the fact that it is unsafe and a danger to anyone using it and that doing so could cause serious injury, add death if you wish but i'd use "or worse". I'd also add the fact it needs a permit, it doesn't comply, there insurer should be notified and the person who did the job should be reported.

    Even with no knowedge it is hard to believe someone would make that much of a mess of it, does sound more like the owners attempts at DIY or a well meaning but incompetent rellie.

  5. #5
    4K Club Member ringtail's Avatar
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    Struth Metrix, been a while since I've seen a corker like that. Drives me mad to think people hand over hard earned for work like that and that people who perform work like that get away with it. What's worse though is that these tools are taking work away from you and me.

    To the fella on another thread that asked if $250 /m2 is the going rate for a deck - Not if you want it done properly.

  6. #6
    1K Club Member Random Username's Avatar
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    Maybe we'll get enough rain for the structure to be pushed apart when the decking swells... (which will be your fault, you realise!!!!)
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  7. #7
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ringtail View Post
    Struth Metrix, been a while since I've seen a corker like that. Drives me mad to think people hand over hard earned for work like that and that people who perform work like that get away with it. What's worse though is that these tools are taking work away from you and me.

    To the fella on another thread that asked if $250 /m2 is the going rate for a deck - Not if you want it done properly.
    Charged them $356 per sq but used about $20 per sq for materials.
    I told the owners are you aware he probably goes home and jumps into his new Ferrari charging like that and building what he did.

  8. #8
    4K Club Member ringtail's Avatar
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    In some ways I hope he has deliberately done a dodgy as this means he is just dodgy but might be capable of semi decent work. If he thinks that this is how a deck should be built then he is dodgy AND dangerous. Somehow I think the D & D description fits. Thank Christ it's not 3 mt in the air.

  9. #9
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    In most cases i wouldn't suggest this but seeing as the customer won't do anything about it, how about contacting council. They'll certainly have some say in the matter. Hopefully have it removed.

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    Default lessons learnt

    Hi Metrix,
    Any chance you can give a run down on what should be done to prevent a monumental $#@& up like this for us young players.

    • How did he get those gaps in the picture frame (bad measurements)?
    • Cupping (spacing or not enough screws)
    • Screws (what should he have used)

    I am a DIYer and wouldn’t let myself get away with a job like that. I reading a few threads on here and he would have known better.

    cheers

  11. #11
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shauck View Post
    In most cases i wouldn't suggest this but seeing as the customer won't do anything about it, how about contacting council. They'll certainly have some say in the matter. Hopefully have it removed.
    It seems clear that a friend or relative did the job, why don't they just come out and say it. If they want to protect someone over this then that is their choice. You have done your best to let them know how the job stacks up and, yes, in writing I would detail the faults to them, particularly the non-gal fixings. If it was an elevated deck then I would consider following it up elsewhere. The way it is built it will just let go bit by bit and they will then find out.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrow View Post
    Hi Metrix,
    Any chance you can give a run down on what should be done to prevent a monumental $#@& up like this for us young players.

    • How did he get those gaps in the picture frame (bad measurements)?
    • Cupping (spacing or not enough screws)
    • Screws (what should he have used)

    I am a DIYer and wouldn’t let myself get away with a job like that. I reading a few threads on here and he would have known better.

    cheers
    The gaps in his mitres could be because his frame is out of square but most likely his saw was not set correctly. The cupping is because he laid the decking hard up against the next piece, you need a gap between boards about the size of a two inch nail is usually enough. As the boards expand (they always expand and shrink) they have nowhere to go and will either "pop" or cup. The frame is just stupidity, even with no building skills at all this bloke simply has created something that will fail as it has nothing close to adequate support, quite the opposite it is like a trap door just waiting to open up and swallow half a party. The little pieces put in to fill gaps would indicate he can't measure and certainly can't design, everything about the job is just poor workmanship from beginning to end. It simply doesn't conform to the building codes and without a permit it is not a legal addition and if inspected would have to be removed it is beyond fixing. You are better using galvanised fittings throughout or for the decking stainless steel, sizing depends on the job.

  13. #13
    Community Moderator phild01's Avatar
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    Just about deck gaps, I think more than a 2" nail thickness (that's about 2.5mm) is necessary, particularly with the popularity of the wider boards now.

  14. #14
    4K Club Member ringtail's Avatar
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    I'm now starting to use the tongue from yellow tongue sheeting as my spacers. It's about 4 mm. Works great but surely not to everyones taste. I like a wide gap ( insert filthy thought) and after shrinkage ( insert second filthy thought) and lots of dry weather one can end up with about 7 mm. Closes up a bit with prolonged moisture though in the wet season. All good.

  15. #15
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barrow View Post
    Hi Metrix,
    Any chance you can give a run down on what should be done to prevent a monumental $#@& up like this for us young players.

    • How did he get those gaps in the picture frame (bad measurements)?
    • Cupping (spacing or not enough screws)
    • Screws (what should he have used)

    I am a DIYer and wouldn’t let myself get away with a job like that. I reading a few threads on here and he would have known better.

    cheers
    Hey Barrow

    Miters were out because of many reasons, the sub frame (or match sticks) was not square, the saw was out of adjustment, the person cutting the miters didn't take any care in cutting them (see timber burs not sanded off any miters and miter ends not even lined up) the saw probably had a 5 teeth left on the blade as any cuts that were done were so rough.

    The way to overcome this it to ensure your sub frame is square to start with use the 3-4-5 rule to ensure this is correct, if it's out by a little don't be too worried you can account for this later when dressing it up, but by a little I mean 5mm not 20mm.

    When you cut your miters use a good quality sharp saw blade, ensure your saw is in adjustment, cut them slowly it's not a race to finish, and sand off any burs if there are any, when you fit them put them in tight, if you find your 45 cuts don't line up perfectly this could be because your sub frame is out slightly, you can re cut one at .5 deg off, eg 44.5 or 45.5 this will give you a slight bit to play with to account for sub frame without causing any problems with alignment of the miters, if you have to co 1 deg or more then you have a problem which needs addressing.

    Cupping of the boards will happen if they are too close, in the case of this deck its already happening only after two months, we always leave minimum 3mm gap for 90mm boards, and 4mm for 140mm, you gap size needs to be taken into consideration BEFORE you build you subframe, as the gap will determine the length of the sub frame to the mm, and allow for the picture frame to hang over around 22-25mm so you can dress the sub frame with boards, which was not done with this deck.

    Screws I assume you referring to the joist hangers ? use Pryda structural Nails (Not clouts these are Non structural), and fill every hole our method for using hangers is to first skew nail the joist to the ledger, for a 140 x 45 we would skew 5 nails per side then attach the hanger after this and fill all holes, this gives a strong connection and one that cant work loose.

    Below is some pics of one we built last week, it was an extension of an existing spotted gum deck.

    We use two methods to lay the board spacing out, first is to use spacers and deck cramps to get a perfect gap for every board, but this can have it's problems in that you might not cram every set of boards perfect, the boards may not all be dimensionally the same and a little bit here and a little bit there can end up with your boards running out.

    I prefer to use pre set measurements and limit your boards per run to about 6, this is where the maths come in, basically you work out the spacings you require between each board plus the board width, lets say your using 90mm boards and want a 3mm gap and want to put down 6 boards at a time , this would be 90mm x 6 boards + 3mm x 7 gaps, total distance comes out to 561mm.

    First we put in the posts and picture frame, then work back from the edge of the picture frame every 561mm and put a nail, run a string line at each 561mm and fix the straightest boards in at each point ensuring the board follows the string line.

    You can then take the string line away and then start laying your boards out in lots of 6, you can actually lay out the entire deck and not screw and of it down until last because your starter boards will hold everything in place.
    once you are happy, we ensure all the boards are lined up perfectly over the joist for any joins then flick a chalk line down the entire length over each joist to use as a guide for screw lines, then we use very fine wedges to place in between the boards to get the required gaps, remember you are only working 6 boards maximum at any time.

    By doing the above method your boards cannot run out of alignment because you have limited the run out by every 561mm being a starting point again, and if you sub frame has been built correct and is square then you will end up with even spacing along the entire length.

    See pics below to explain the method.

    This deck below had smaller spans than the one above in question, we used 140x45 Joists, sitting on 190x45 bearers and doubled up in the middle, this is how the other one should have been built.
    This one was like walking on solid concrete when finished, calculations showed deflections of the bearers would be 1mm and joists 2mm loaded up to 62kg/m2 and the timbers were only working to 58%-64% of their capacity at this load.

    Where the old deck joined the new deck the spacing between the boards was exactly the same, this is where the calculations come into play BEFORE you start building it, and why the dodgy deck had fill in pieces, in theory if they can clean the old boards up to look like new, then you should not be able to see where the old and new one meet.

    In other words you could fit as many people on this deck as you want and it will still feel solid as opposed to the one above, a barbie doll walking on that one will cause it to flex ,

    Don't worry about the gap below the bottom step they only wanted 3 steps and are intending on building the grassed area up and the posts for the steps are offset because there was a heap of piping for the retention tanks in the way, the spans for the stairs are way within span specs.















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  16. #16
    Je pense, donc METRIX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    It seems clear that a friend or relative did the job, why don't they just come out and say it. If they want to protect someone over this then that is their choice. You have done your best to let them know how the job stacks up and, yes, in writing I would detail the faults to them, particularly the non-gal fixings. If it was an elevated deck then I would consider following it up elsewhere. The way it is built it will just let go bit by bit and they will then find out.
    I supplied them an exhaustive list of faults with the deck in writing, and how they need to be rectified, the deck is salvageable but will take a bit of work to fix, as every connection needs to be re nailed, extra joists at 300c , additional bearers, replacing all fixings with Gal and up sizing them, adding bolts at connections points etc etc.

    There were 18 separate areas which need to be addressed, it's up to them if they want to fix it or not, I warned them in writing how dangerous the deck is and supplied all the pictures.
    My concern is if they get this mystery person back to do the repairs he wont do them properly as he doesn't know what correct is.

    I also explained I have a duty of care to ensure the deck is made safe or I can report it to council or FT.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    Just about deck gaps, I think more than a 2" nail thickness (that's about 2.5mm) is necessary, particularly with the popularity of the wider boards now.
    We do minimum 3mm for 90mm boards and minimum 4mm for 140.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by METRIX View Post
    We do minimum 3mm for 90mm boards and minimum 4mm for 140.
    Another method if cramping groups of boards is to run a string line and make sure every 6th board aligns to the marks as you go - same principle as described above, but not requiring accurate measurement of all board spacing across the whole sub-frame.

    All the above work of course - I find board dimensions, especially for kwila/merbau are all over the shop - commonly from 88 to 90mm (or less and similar variations in wider stock) and lots of narrow ends (almost always not cut square too) from faulty 'tailering out' of the moulding machines. That's with a long term good supplier - from Bunnies etc who knows.

    BTW - superb deck work in your example and great descriptions too Metrix! As to the dodgy deck what can we say . . .
    Advice from me on this forum is general and for guidance based on information given by the member posing the question. Not to be used in place of professional advice from people appropriately qualified in the relevant field. All structural work must be approved and constructed to the BCA or other relevant standards by suitably licensed persons. The person doing the work and reading my advice accepts responsibility for ensuring the work done accords with the applicable law.

  19. #19
    4K Club Member ringtail's Avatar
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    Yep nice work Metrix, as usual.

  20. #20
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    Look at the dodgy deck in a positive light; ie the guy is finding work for himself (keeping him off the dole) AND making work opportunities for others in fixing his crappy work.

    Instead of cash going to just him, there's a whole stack of multiplier effects; he is potentially providing downstream employment opportunities for paramedics, insurance inspectors, local councils, decent tradies*, rubbish disposal firms, grief councellors, coroners and all that. All of these people need things like qualifications, supplies, transport, coffee and so on, so there are even more downstream benefits!!!!

    On the surface it might only seem like $3,000, but in fact it has the potential to add an extra $5-10,000 (or more) into the economy - the guy is an economic powerhouse!!!

    *even more economic benefits accrue if you employ another shoddy tradie, though!!!!
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    Default You thought you have seen it all, have a look at this deck !!!

    If I come across a job like this, it would be better to wall away, it could be just as likely your name gets dragged through the mud by association.


    Cheers Barney
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    cheers Look out if I have a tape measure in my hand.....I'm upto something

  22. #22
    The Master's Apprentice Bedford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barney118 View Post
    If I come across a job like this, it would be better to wall away, it could be just as likely your name gets dragged through the mud by association.
    I agree, I can't understand why anyone would add to something that is already faulty...........
    Posted by John2b, And no, BEVs are not going to save the planet, which doesn't need saving anyway.

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    Metrix, Love you work. Thanks for the detailed explanation

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by barney118 View Post
    If I come across a job like this, it would be better to wall away, it could be just as likely your name gets dragged through the mud by association.


    Cheers Barney
    Sent from my iPhone 4s using Tapatalk
    Yes and No.

    I was asked to do a certain job, and I did it, in the process I noticed a problem, notified them about it, and now they are chasing up this person, or that is what they have told me.

    I have notified them in writing what is wrong with the deck, given them a complete report of how to fix it, and awaiting reply, it's now looking like we will be asked to repair the deck, which it is repairable.
    If I walked away from every job which has had a dodgy done to it, I might as well throw in the towel, there are dodgy jobs everywhere, it just happes to be this one was a bit dodgier that the rest.

    This client has been very appreciative that I brought the problems to their attention, it's up to them now to action what we have pointed out, hopefully they do the right thing.

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    Hi Metrix,

    Thanks for sharing examples of your work -always very educational and inspirational.

    Can I ask a question (well two) on the steps - are these supported at the front with posts directly set into concrete, and at the deck end with timber bracing (but not joist hangers?)

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToneG View Post
    Hi Metrix,

    Thanks for sharing examples of your work -always very educational and inspirational.

    Can I ask a question (well two) on the steps - are these supported at the front with posts directly set into concrete, and at the deck end with timber bracing (but not joist hangers?)
    Yes, the board supporting the front of both steps is fixed directly to posts which are concreted in, this is also the same for the back of the bottom step..

    The back of the top step is fixed directly to the bearer with nails and bugles, there was also blocking put on the top step before the boards went on (similar to the bottom step), you might also see some angled bracing in them as well at the corners

    There is no need for hangers as the run of each step is small and hangers are not required, with the bolting of the plates and bugles / blocking these wont be going anywhere in a hurry.

    The connecting timbers between the front and back plates 190x45 at 450c and were very solid, same as the step out of the house, this was all 190x45, dyna bolted to the wall.

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    Thanks Metrix,

    I will probably do something like this future - it's really useful to see how it's done,

    Quote Originally Posted by METRIX View Post
    ... some angled bracing in them as well at the corners...
    properly

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    One more photo of how not to build a deck, besides leaving the plastic on the posts, I was under a strange impression that subframe and posts actually sit UNDER the deck not outside of it !!

    img_0088-1280x768-.jpg

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    What happened there!!?? error? something in the way of stump hole?

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    maybe the stump holes were eyeballed not measured. my neighbour eyeballed the back wall of my shed rather than measure the 3m from the back fence when he set out his shed to ensure he was not over the easement. i should add my shed is on the other side of the block to his so only about 10m away...

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    Quote Originally Posted by shauck View Post
    What happened there!!?? error? something in the way of stump hole?
    Nah. Nothing exotic like that, just a dodgy deck builder

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    Nice work. My work's not as pretty as yours but I make sure mine is solid!

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