Thoughts on Home Depot installed Deck with "patented" building techniques....

Hey guys,
I just had Home Depot out to look at putting an 7' x 18' deck up against part of my above ground pool (in New Hampshire).
They talk about how their decks aren't built in the traditional fashion, how they are all free standing decks with no load placed on the ledger board, how their posts are 3 2x6s fastened together in the factory, not 4x4s, how it they are designed like a bridge where all loads are distributed through the structure instead of the typical shearing load placed on the ledger board on my traditional decks, yada yada yada.
I'm an engineer... and yes, most of their ideas and methods do seem ultra beefy and very solid. It makes a lot of sense, and it has to, since they have a lifetime guarantee to support.
My question is... the thing is extremely pricey. We haven't gotten other quotes, but I guarantee they'll be less than this deck assuming a traditional build.
I just wanted to see if anyone out there has had one of these decks put in and what they can tell me about them. Is it worth the extra cost?... is it all a lot of hype?... are traditional builds really that much worse?
Thanks,
G
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Oh, and I forgot to mention.. the work is all done through U.S. Remodelers which was spun off by US Home Systems... two pretty large and reputable companies.
G
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4 feet with angle braces or something, is just too flexible for anything more than a couple feet tall.
You're an engineer- run the numbers. What load does this deck need to support? (People, furniture, snow, sail load and lift from wind, etc.) Design to 120 per cent or so of that. Someone on here will jump in shortly with references to beam deflection tables, footings, frost lines/heave, etc. No competent deck builder loads up the ledger board- it is only supposed to be a belaying point, so people don't get queasy walking from house to deck and back, and to dampen the deck vibrations. The inner ear picks up on stuff like that real quick. (When house shopping, I walked some decks that scared me, and I grew up in the construction business. These things felt like badly rigged scaffolds.)
But having said all that- my gut inclination would be to go with a local guy, unless the chain had a big price or value advantage. If something goes wrong, I wanna be able to look the owner in the eye, not some designated problem handler. The chain probably subs the scut work out to local crews anyway. By any chance are they offering to finance the thing for you? If so, I'd run like hell. Half the window and siding companies I had out for estimates turned out to mainly be in the business of loaning money, with their half-ass installed product lines merely the hook to get you in the tent.
aem sends...
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patio, supported by 4 4x4s. I didn't stay under it any longer than I had to, and certainly didn't go in the room. They would probably argue that it was cantilevered out, and the joists were the real structural element, but why not use 6x6s?
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Comments inserted:
"G. Filicetti" wrote in message

The first question that comes to mind is: Where in the heck would someone fasten a ledger board on a pool?
Building a free standing deck is nothing new, and is definately _not_ a patented technique!
Something else, if no weight is going to be placed on the ledger, why the heck would a company want to install one?
Building with 3, 2"x6's as post, instead of using 6"x6's, sounds like an utterly foolish idea, and more costly, let alone to mention they compare this to 4"x4"s.
Why the odd number of "7' x18'"? Lumber comes in 2' increments, seems like a lot of waste of an eight footer.
Lastly, they mentioned nailing 3, 2"x6's at the "factory". I've never heard of a "factory" that mills, or sells lumber. Sounds like a garage type operation.
Me thinks you're about to be taken for a ride.
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On 28 May 2007 13:14:34 -0700, G. Filicetti wrote in alt.home.repair:

I promise you that with such an arrangement, you'll have carpenter ants between those 2x6s in a few years. Been there, done that (in northern NJ, not NH).
I second the guy who wants to "look the builder in the eye." Not much of a comfort, but better than "Sorry, that's HD's problem/Sorry, that's the contractor's problem."
Good luck, HaroldWho
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I'd go with a reputable contractor. They'll be able to build free standing if that's what you want. They'll likely attach to the ledger as well, but it won't be supporting the weight of the deck.
I also don't like the idea of the 3 2x6s fastened together. The balcony we just ripped down last summer was built with 2x4s fastened together, and the rot & bugs got at them from the inside & the outside. I prefer the solid posts that hold the new balcony up threefold.
Lastly, the US Remodelers guys are just going to sub the work out to the lowest bidder, and the main priority will be super-fast turnovers. They don't need your word of mouth recommendation once the job is done, they'll get their future jobs from the Home Depot salespeople.
When you go with a private contractor, the work is his living. He needs you to tell your friends and family what a great job he did and what an excellent experience doing business with him was. That's the bread & butter that keeps his company going. He knows this and will go to great lengths to keep you happy.
Choosing a contractor to build the deck will end up being a bigger factor that the method used to build the deck, IMO. When you go with Home Depot, you don't get to pick your contractor. You don't get to look the boss in the eye and establish a relationship. You don't get to call his home or cell phone when you have a concern or question. Instead Depot farms the work out to US Remodelers, and they sub it out to the lowest bidder.
There are a few ways to put up the deck, and a good builder will make any of them work. This includes freestanding, don't let the depot fool you into thinking they own a copyright to that.
Pep boys doesn't wrench my car, and Home Depot doesn't build my house. Both may be capable of getting it done, but I refuse to pay a premium for a lesser quality product or service. I've got a good contractor and a good mechanic and wouldn't think of trading in either even if the chains were charging less. The fact that the chains charge more is icing on my cake.
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G. Filicetti wrote:

What's the penalty for copying one of their decks?
Rob
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