Lloyd building department head David Barton briefed town council members on the Ransom Road deck collapse at their July 5 meeting. Three people were injured, one severely, when the deck pulled away from the house overlooking the Hudson on Independence Day.
“A deck is a maintainable item,” Barton told council members and residents at the meeting, and generally don’t last more than ten years without some work in this region. “We still have acid rain,” he said, which tends to limit that lifespan. The deck in question was original to the house, which was built in 1950, and Barton said there’s a permit on record in his office from 2005. At some point since then, at least one of the bolts anchoring it to the house was replaced with one made of stainless steel, and completely inadequate for the task. He described the bolt, now bent to a 45-degree angle, as “pretty” but “not designed for structural load.”
Using the wrong kind of bolt — #5 or #6 machine bolts are what is needed — was just one of the problems Barton’s inspection revealed. No sleeve was used to get the bolt seated properly, and no epoxy to secure it. The wrong bit was used, stripping it, and it was driven in the rest of the way into the concrete with an impact hammer. The wood around the bolt was also rotted, meaning that when the deck moved and the house didn’t, the collapse was just a matter of time.
The other side of the deck is prone to “imminent failure,” Barton said, and the house has been deemed uninhabitable. County records show the owner of record to be a Chicago-based corporation, Diplomat Property Manager LLC, since 2016.
“People stain decks, and think that’s maintenance,” Barton said. What’s really needed is for any deck to be periodically inspected by a reputable craftsman, he explained.
One of the three people injured needed more than two pints of blood at the scene, Barton said, but should recover.