attach deck to house or not?

The father-in-law wants to redo his deck. The original builder did not attach the deck to the house for fear that warping or "ground sinkage" would just pull it away. The house was built over 30 years ago so I don't think the earth is going to move much more than it has already but I could be wrong. I've seen plenty of deck attached. Some say do it, others say no way. What is the general concensus here? Any tips on how it should be done?
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building this? How high is the deck off the ground? Does the ground freeze? Does/will the deck have concrete footings that meet code -- as well as making sense -- meaning below the frost line? Does the house have a proper foundation? Depending on the answers to these questions, it generally makes sense to attach a deck to the house, IMO. But if, for example, the deck is only 15" off the ground, there might be no need to attach. One benefit of attaching is, if one is using proper fittings, that you can skip pouring footings at the house side of the deck -- the house's foundation serves that purpose. Now, if you do not plan proper footings, do not attach.
I do understand that decks can be built w/o full footings, but in limited circumstances. And, BTW, you are wrong about the ground moving. Not so much up and down necessarily, but when it gets wet and then freezes, it generates forces that can pop posts out of the ground. HTH.
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I don't know what the laws are around where you live. But here, if the deck is free standing then you do not need a building permit. If it is attached to the house then you do need a building permit.
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Something tells me you might want to check on your house insurance and tax people. In some states, anything attached to a house is considered in the footage of the house.
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Something to consider, if you build it attached to the house, you are setting your self up for termites and rot as this will be an area that collects moisture and stays damp.

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I live in Oregon. I have seen more rot damage where decks attach to a house than every other place on a house combined. If you do attach the deck to the house make sure you use proper flashing going up and under the siding and plenty of caulk!
On Mon, 11 Aug 2003 23:04:43 GMT, "Leon"

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If your deck is elevated, attaching it to the house will save considerably on the cross bracing needed for the foundation posts & beams. Attaching the deck to the house and running the deck boards diagonally to the joists will make for one incredibly rigid structure.
Art

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You *either* attach it to the house, and make sure that it 'floats' on the pillars/pilings supporting it, *OR* you tie it to the pillars, and not to the house.
The foundation of the house, and the pillars supporting the house _will_ move in relation to each other. 'frost heave', or "whatever". Just allow for it.
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Check your local building code. Around here (PG County MD) they want an engineer's stamp if you're structurally attaching the deck to the house (in lieu of using another set of posts and beam). See, a few years ago they had a rash of decks falling (with people on them) due to improper attachement to the house, mainly due to nailing the ledger board vs lagging it to a proper structural member. One "builder" went so far as to use lags so it would pass visual inspection, but after the deck collapsed it was noticed that the lags went into a second "ledger" that was nailed to the house. The nails pulled out and whump went the deck.
Renata

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    Oh, good. The attach or not attach thread. It pops up from time to time.
    In the muddy Pacific Nortwest, where I've built most of my decks, you almost always attach it to the house because the ground is unstable. It could move away from the house.
    In the cold midwest, if you attach it to the house, it may tear up in the winter because of the way the ground freezes.
    Other factors come into play also.
    If you don't attach it to the house, you must cross-brace it. Otherwise you will have a structure that is unstable. Walking on it will be like walking on a table.
    Your best source for information is your local building department. This is a good example of why building codes vary from one place to another.
        Good luck.
                Peter
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I'll defintely be contacting the local building dept. The location is midwest (Chicago suburb). The current deck has proper footings - whether or not they are to code I could not say. I actually see no reason to attach this deck to the house as it is only inches off the ground. My father-in-law seems to want it done that way though. I'm trying to get as much info. as I can to back my "let's not attach it" argument...
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HomerJ wrote:

How 'bout just one? Already mentioned, but I'll say it again: TERMITES!
Especially "inches off the ground" I would be very afraid. You can take steps to try to prevent harm, but I've seen a lot of rotten, termite-riddled wood where decks have been attached. If I ever build one, I don't care what the building code says, I'm not attaching it to my house.
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How about a brace (or four) made of metal? It would give structural soundness, but not provide the same termite path. Ed
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pixelated:

I was talking with a termite guy at the last Faire here in town earlier year. He showed me pictures where the termites trekked 8' up a solid concrete wall to get to wet wood, so don't think a couple inches of space will keep them away from your houses. If the wood is wet, they'll find it. If the wood is dry, they usually won't eat it. Proper flashing will keep your wood dry and much safer from rot and termites.
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pixelated:

Facts: Termites fly, so that path idea is not valid. The last bug sprayer I talked with said that he'd seen termites in 2nd floor homes with solid concrete block first floors. If there's wet wood to be found, a termite will find it.
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I have a solid brick and block wall house. That is, brick and 4" concrete blocks interlocked, from foundation to roof peaks. Apparently thoses suckers were determined 'cause at one time they got inside and muched away a 3' x 4' section of the oak flooring (left a nice veneer section on top and hollow underneath). Fortunately it was the flooring and not the joists. Haven't had them recently, knock on, ahem, wood.
There are terminte shields that one places on top of the foundation wall so they don't meander up that to the nice and tasty 2x walls. Don't know how effective they are.
Renata
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On Mon, 18 Aug 2003 12:15:25 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@myrealbox.com (Renata) pixelated:

About as much as bird-proof squirrel feeders. (Or was that the other way around. I forgot.)
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I don't think termite's 'll touch the PT stuff.
REnata
On Thu, 14 Aug 2003 03:52:19 -0400, Silvan

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Quick little tip. Pour Borax around the post. It has some termiticide properties but it will also keep the weeds down. Get some 20 Mule Team at grocery store. It will leach out of wood but it does have some fireproofing properties to it along with insectcide and herbicide.
On Thu, 14 Aug 2003 16:23:20 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@myrealbox.com (Renata) wrote:

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