According to the Baltimore Sun, officials are investigating the collapse of a Columbia townhome’s backyard deck. It fell on Tuesday around 11:15 p.m, and five people were injured. The injuries were not life-threatening, but the injured people were taken to local hospitals for treatment.
Bob Francis, Director of Licenses and Permits for Howard County, went to the home to inspect the collapsed deck. He explained why the deck suddenly gave out.
“Where [the deck] was lagged into the house, it pulled out and it fell over. Not the ledger board, not the deck, not the beams of the deck, but the actual rim joints of the house itself appear to have rotted out and caused that to pull away. It’s like if you tried to screw a board into a sponge. It’s just not going to hold.”
On average, a deck should last for 20 years before needing to be replaced. This one, Francis said, was built in 1998.
The collapse left neighbors concerned about their decks, as well. One neighbor, Emily Shah, found herself regretting not having her deck looked at sooner. She recalls seeing a neighbor have his inspected.
“He said that he had somebody come out and look at his [deck] and they said it wasn’t structurally safe. I don’t know if the weight is supposed to be more on the posts, but the guy said the weight was on his house, so he had his reworked last summer. My husband and I were like, ‘We should do that, but whatever, we don’t spend too much time on our deck.’”
Because the house is a rental property, it appears that the home’s tenants are the ones who are going to have to foot the bill and the cleanup.
“Because there is a rental-housing license, we will be able to cite them for the property maintenance issue to get it cleaned up,” Francis said. “If it were a private homeowner, we wouldn’t have any authority to force them to do anything. Obviously, it would be in their best interest to get things cleaned and tightened up.”
No updates on the conditions of those who were injured.