“That’s The Way We Always Do It.” = Building Damage = Hidden Defect

“That’s The Way We Always Do It.” = Building Damage = Hidden Defect

The following is excerpts from a letter written for my client as court evidence because the decking contractor damaged the building structure by cutting (off) 6 posts that he was warned not to cut as they were structural. As a result he’s created building fault condition that unless declared by future vendors, will create a ‘hidden defect’. The cut line is hidden by the decking.


June 22,2011

To whom it may concern;

 On April 22nd, 2009 I was engaged to consult on the condition of the structure of the garage wall and balcony of the residence at  “1212 some street, town nearby”.  This was to inspect the condition of the wall beam and balcony supports prior to corrective renovations.  The lower wall beam had been displaced and needed repositioning and straightening.

The balcony supports were connected (bolted) to traverse joists that rested on this beam. The balcony support posts were structural and carried the balcony railings as well as the weight of the roof over the balcony.

 On the morning of May 7th I was there again consulting for the contractor that the homeowner had hired to do the beam correction. The walls were open, as well as the roof sheathing and decking of the balcony. This gave full access and allowed the structuring of the framing to be clearly seen.

 I was told that the decking contractor, an installer for the fiberglass decking product, planned to cut the balcony support posts and so install his product as one single piece with no seams.  I understand why he did not want to cut his fiberglass decking, as a solid single piece will not let any water in.

 But that could not be done here as the columns on this balcony were structural and were not to be cut under any circumstances. To do so would seriously damage the structure of this building. I explained this to the framing contractor and to the homeowner. They advised the decking contractor of this requirement.

 The decking contractors answer was that it (cutting and lifting the posts) was the way they always do theses installations. They were clearly told not to do it that way.  They are used to replacing balcony decks on building where the iron railing can be unscrewed and removed and replaced after the deck is installed.  This cannot be done here.

They were instructed to cut notchs in the decking panel to fit around the posts, so the column posts could not be compromised

 I have now been advised that the posts were cut. The roof (balcony) was jacked up to install the fiberglass decking. No matter how well this was done (or not), the structure of the balcony and the overhead roof have been damaged and compromised.

The balcony railings now have less than half the retaining strength they originally had. The balcony roof can no longer withstand the wind shear forces it used to and was framed to resist. And the framing where the balcony roof meets the main roof is now lose and sloppy, and may be leaking if the shingling has not been redone there.

I have never known another situation where an installer knowingly cut the structural elements of a building just to make their job easier.

 The best way to restore this building to its original strength is to demolish the balcony area and rebuild it.  Failing that, you need a structural engineer to design or specify the steel bracketing (type, size, placement and attachments) to restore the integrity of this building.

You may require architectural services to integrate this hardware into the buildings appearance.

 Now this building is in no danger of falling down or anything as dramatic as that, but is certainly is much less than it was. It has in fact been devalued.

 This is in fact a classic example of a ‘hidden defect’, were this condition of the cut structure not declared to future buyers.




Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post