Check your deck

    In the colder months when no-one bothers to venture outside and the barbecue is nestled under its winter blanket, it’s the perfect time to check decks and balconies for signs of wear and tear.    

    And now the Government is getting on board, urging deck-dwelling Sydney-siders to do some basic checks to ensure their beloved outdoor space is fit for purpose for when the weather warms up.

    “Like all parts of the home, decks and balconies require routine and regular maintenance to keep them in good repair and identify any emerging issues. Winter is the perfect time,” NSW Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe said.

    Unfortunately, there’ve been a number of recent incidents involving decks and balconies in NSW resulting in serious injuries or death.

    To address this, NSW Fair Trading is providing a guide to help residents understand how to build and maintain safe decks and balconies, identify any signs of maintenance or structural problems and to find expert assistance when required. Go to fairtrading.nsw.gov.au for information about deck and balcony safety or to download the safety guide.

    The Monthly Chronicle’s regular builder contributor Neil Turrell offers this advice:

    Like all parts of our homes, your deck or balcony demands routine checking and regular maintenance to keep it in good shape and prevent emerging issues and dangerous environments. With this in mind I’d like to outline some causes of damage and offer some guidelines on making sure your deck and balconies are safe.

    Testing, testing

    First, you should check the quality and integrity of handrails, balustrades, supporting beams and joists. By applying light pressure and using a push and pull action, look for any rattling, unusual movement or loose fittings. If anything seems out of the ordinary, then it should be attended to immediately to prevent any disasters.

    It’s important to only engage with licensed tradespeople to do any adjustments or building work to ensure top quality and safety. If you’re dealing with someone new, you can easily check licenses at www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.

    Common structural issues can be caused by numerous elements including insects, water damage, corrosive effects from the coast or the addition of heavy loads like  air conditioning units, furniture or pot plants.

    To avoid any damage to your balconies and decks, make sure there’s proper drainage, you’ve pest sprayed and have pest inspections regularly. And be mindful or how much weight is being supported on the area.

    Weather erosion is difficult to manage, but for properties by the sea and subjected to salt, I suggest applying oil-based paint to all exposed timber to protect it from harsh conditions and rust.

    A weighty issue

    And how will you know if you’re exerting too much weight on an outdoor space, such as with a party of people? There are a number of ominous tell-tale signs:

    *Timber boards are cracking on the top
    * There’s a lot of bounce on the deck, and it feels like a trampoline
    * You hear creeking noises
    * If the deck looks like it’s pulling away from the wall
    * If the deck looks like it has waves in it, meaning it doesn’t sight level

    If any of those signs appear, get a licensed tradesperson in to remedy  – before issuing any party invites!

    So as winter is lingering for a little longer, make it productive and take the time to inspect your balconies and decks for damage to avoid any disasters to both your well-being and your wallets.

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