Inspector: Rusted nails may have led to deck collapse

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Submitted: Thu, 07/11/2013 - 3:23am
Updated: Thu, 07/11/2013 - 12:27pm

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A deck collapse turned a vacation dream home into a nightmare in Ocean Isle Beach last night.

As investigators pick through debris they are left wondering what can be done to prevent things like this in the future.

Investigators say the deck was built to spec in 2003. Just 10 years after the last nail was driven, it is now in shambles.

Around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday 25 family members were standing on the deck to take a photo, when the planks below them collapsed leaving them all in need of help from first responders who train every day for this situation.

“Just a few weeks ago we held a multi-agency collapse training exercise, where we trained on the techniques that would have been useful if this had been a more complicated event,” Brunswick County Emergency Service Director Anthony Marzano said. “Not only reaching, accessing, and cutting through materials to get to patients but managing the multiple number of patients that were involved.”

As the injured were on their way to the hospital, investigators were hard at work trying to determine the cause of the accident.

One Brunswick County building inspector, who is not a part of the investigation, says rusty nails he found in the debris could be the smoking gun.

A town leader says weathering is something that must be considered.

“We have an environment here that is very harsh to the building and to the building industry,” OIB Mayor Pro Tem Dean Walters said. “Whether you’re talking about salt, wind or a lot of people moving around and stuff like this so anything could have happened. That’s something that’s not covered under the building codes under our authority.”

As crews work to clear the debris they are looking for clues about how this could have been prevented and to try and keep something like this from ever happening again.

“There’s a lot that could be changed, and it as to come from Raleigh,” Walters said. “They need to look at the building code and adapt it to the region, because we have a whole different environment down here, and we need to look closely at what the needs are as far as building for safety.”

The building inspector we spoke with says that one step that could be made in coastal communities is to require homes to be built with stainless steel nails, because they don’t rust. There is, of course, considerable cost involved with that.


  • ENVISION NO LIBERALS!!!!!!!!!!!! says:

    25 people posing for a picture, You think they were all standing in the same location? My guess they were standing over a single girder which is held in place by a hanger NOT bolted it gave way. 25 people at say 135 lb per person that is a live load of 3375lb.Lot of weight for a hanger.

  • GMoney28405 says:

    25 people standing on a deck……That’s what caused the collapse. And I just bet, they were jumping around acting like idiots. Just my opinion. Carry on!!

  • Guest45 says:

    that may not be a completely accurate statement, I built my own home about 8 years ago and thru out the building/framing process the inspector ‘s pet peeve was fasteners. especially in the new treated wood of the time, well, especially being that it was my own personal home no corners were cut, well I can tell you now that most of the screws and the nails that went into the bands have been eaten away by the treated wood, even though they were “approved” for the new treated wood, and this house is not even subject to the salt that beach house’s are exposed to, so who’s fault is this? I’d say the government and the environmentalist for forcing the change on treated wood, this newer stuff has consequences.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    Deck construction is quite robust and regulated due to past accidents. Inexperienced builders, people not abiding by code requirements and known environmental conditions, i.e. salt, have warranted these mandates. The structural skeleton for decks do not rely on simple nails for the deck structure to remain integral. While the decking planks themselves may be nailed in place, they serve as a platform, not the structure. Heavy galvanized bolts connect the headers, columns, joists and stringers to form the structure and keep it intact from wind, flexing from other live loading conditions, etc.

    An engineering evaluation will easily uncover the real problem. You can rely on the fact that the owners insurance company will have one performed!

  • Love DUCK says:

    Yep, every single one of those requirements have been in place since 1990, the first year of CABO and especially since 2000 the first year of the North Carolina Amended International Codes. So quoting Nails rusting, really is suspect at best.

    NCDOI will review if requested by OIB, they are the experts on codes in North Carolina and have engineers on staff to evaluate.

  • Vog46 says:

    If you go to the other media site for local TV news they have a good slide show of the collapsed porch.
    The floor gave way according to the eyewitnesses and the pictures seem to indicate the box frame was still attached to the building. The boards in the pictures look remarkably undamaged, they look like they just separated from the supports….but I’ll leave that to the homeowners insurers engineers……


  • If they only knew says:

    Armchair Inspectors, Got to love em! First, I visited the site before making a comment, did you? Second,to the other post, dogging Brunswick County without knowing all the facts is the same as a low information voter. (See where that got us}!! “What caused” this is speculative and “may” be rusted nails and/or a combination of different factors. “What actually happened” is obvious. There were NO headers,columns,bolts or stringers involved. Only girders, joists, ledgers and nails. Both “Girders” were bolted to pilings and did not fail. Joists are perpendicular to and attached to the girders supported underneath by a nominal 2″x 2″ ledger. Only NAILS were holding the deck joists and ledger to the girder. Once the ocean side end of the joists and ledger separated from the girder the other end of the joists pulled away from it’s girder leaving that ledger still attached. Result= Full deck Failure. Main concern is the injured. I wish them a speedy recovery.

  • Guestbyebye says:

    Who uses nails anymore? There are triple-coated deck screws which are guaranteed for life against rust or corrosion. ITS THE BEACH, salt air ya know.Sounds like the contractor was cutting corners. Screws are the norm unless you are lazy and use a nail gun.

  • confused1 says:

    Don’t worry, we will probably see more decks etc. failing because of peoples use of the wrong fasteners in ACQ treated wood. There was plenty of ignorance,apathy(some by inspection departments) and cheapness by builders and homeowners alike when it came time to choose and pay for the right screws, bolts etc. on many structures.

  • Love Duck says:

    We can all rest easy a Brunswick County Inspector has reviewed the debris, after all these years of not doing the inspections in there own jurisdiction, they are reviewing decks in others, what a colossal joke. WWAY really!! your source is just a little suspect under current conditions. my suggestion is that you check with NCDOI about your source, before quoting.

    were they not just cited and found to be in numerous violations of state rules and regs, albeit the Chief inspector had to step down.

    Go to Leland and get them to review, they have very well trained and competent and Qualified Inspectors.

  • Guest-o-matic says:

    I’m not inspecting anything and don’t represent myself to do so. I’m only quoting constuction code and good building practice.

    By the way, Inspectors are only inspectors, they are not engineers by any sense of the imagination. They are only qualified to view code and building conformance by the builder, not evaluate the primary causal factors of a structural collapse. Conversely to your point about “dogging” the BC inspectors by whomever, plenty of facts exist to attest to their lack of sufficient training, experience and inability to properly validate proper construction. This isn’t by any shape of the imagination the first questionable event of this nature to have occurred in BC or in NHC for that matter.

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