Pergola and Deck
Building Inspections, House Exterior

Love a Pergola and Deck? Here’s the RED FLAG list to check!

Everyone loves a Pergola and Deck! Here’s the RED FLAG list to check!

Attending open inspections looking for the house of your dreams is an exciting time. Queensland is known for its beautiful weather and alfresco areas that you can use year-round, so it is likely that many houses you look at will have a pergola and deck area either attached or built close to the house. Therefore, you can do some checks at an open inspection to ensure the integrity of these structures.  

Visual Inspection of Pergola and Deck

There are some red flags to keep a keen eye out for with pergolas and decks. These are the obvious signs that the pergola or decking may be in dire need of repair or are a potential safety risk.  

Start by looking for signs of decay damage. Moisture causes wood rot that can jeopardise the structural integrity of a deck or pergola structure. Decay is common to the bottom of supporting timber posts, along the top edge of rafters and floor joists.  

Termites can also cause considerable damage to pergolas and decks by devouring timber components until they are no longer sound.  Look out for signs of hard mud tracking up support posts, and where possible look for hollow sounding damaged timber components. If you suspect termite damage, it is imperative that a building and pest inspector is engaged.   

Poor drainage around a deck or pergola structure will contribute to decay and termite attraction.  Some deck structures are supported on steel posts.  Poor drainage will contribute to premature corrosion of the steel post supports and may require substantial repair or replacement. 

Structure Stability

In some cases, you may not be able to visually inspect under the deck structure or around the base of the pergola supports. Trust your gut. If it moves in the wind or is wobbly when you push firmly or shake a structure, this is a sign of instability. Instability could be due to incorrect construction or deterioration and requires urgent attention. Excessive  movement could contribute to a structural failure that could pose a serious safety issue and could have substantial consequences for  liability or insurance.  

The Nuts and Bolts of Safety – Check the Fixings and Roof Sheeting

Queensland can have some wild weather, so ensuring your fixings and roof sheeting on your pergola and deck are well secured and of the correct type is essential to protect your asset and ensure safety. Whilst you may not know which brackets are to be used where and how they are to be installed, you can still look out for signs of rusting brackets, rafters coming loose, or unusual gaps between timber components etc.  Pushing up on roof sheeting where possible can also highlight roof sheeting that is coming loose.  You do not want to be rescuing your roofing from the neighbour’s yard after a big storm.  

Always book a professional for peace of mind.  While you may pick up some obvious defects at your open inspection, your professional building inspector will go over the property with a fine-tooth comb with a builder’s eye and identify defects you may have missed. 


About Andrew Mackintosh

Andrew Mackintosh has been answering home inspection questions in the greater Brisbane area since 1995. He has personally carried out over 20,000 building inspections and is a licensed builder and licensed building inspector, Member of Queensland Master Builders Association & Institute of Building Consultants. Being the business owner and the inspector, Andrew is passionate about providing clients with excellent customer service, value for money, honest, unbiased, thorough inspection and reporting in a professional and timely manner to allow clients to make informed decisions when purchasing property.

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