Calls for change after Emerald Isle deck collapse

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A deck collapse on an Emerald Isle vacation rental, that sent 24 people to the hospital, is raising new concerns about the safety of millions of similar structures nationwide.


Officials said the collapse was caused by deteriorating nails. The deck, located at 4403 Ocean Drive, was constructed in 1986. At the time, officials said, it complied with existing safety standards, but since then new state laws have banned the use of nails in attaching outdoor decks to homes. Now, building experts say, new decks must be constructed with bolts.

“We used to…we would just toe nail deck bands to a house, or even at the beach,” Raleigh Chief Code Official Richard Leon Skinner said, “And over time, salt water would rust the nails out and it would break away from the structure.”

This weekend’s accident may have been a perfect storm of problems. Building experts said collapsed decks are often caused by overloading, aging and poor build quality. Experts told WNCN, even though routine inspections are not required by law, it’s best to have your deck inspected by a professional for water damage ten years after it is built and then every three years after that.

One property owner in Emerald Isle said he would like to see laws change to require routine inspections.

“You’re always worried about the maintenance and the upkeep,” Emerald Isle homeowner Rodger Lush said.  “Just some type of checks and balances, instead of saying this was built in ’92, and we’ll leave you alone now but we’ll rent it out for you.”

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