On shaky ground

Friday’s visit to the house was the first time I’d walked out on the lower deck since the tree was removed and broke through it.

I thought my feeling of vertigo was strictly emotional. That my sense of the deck as extremely unsafe arose because my own personal foundations had been rocked.

It turns out that my intuition had a physical grounding.

Got a call this morning from the project manager, Dan, who said he had some bad news that was a blessing in disguise.

An inspector came out from the county to approve the reconstruction plan. During the inspection, he checked the footings of the deck posts.

There were no footings. No cement blocks, no piers, nothing at all around or under the posts.

“I was shocked,” Dan said. “There was nothing holding them up but dirt.”

Our two stories of decks, which extend out from house and 40 feet up the side of a mountain, were just stuck into the ground like toothpicks.

deck posts

The deck posts had little circles of cement around them visible on the ground, which gave the illusion of cement footings, but that cement was only superficial.

Instead of anchoring the posts deep in the earth with cement, as is required by code, we had nothing.

The posts are 16 years old and starting to rot.

If we’d had a party on the deck – as we did for my 50th birthday, when most of my family came to Georgia – it could have collapsed and killed people.

Building codes are written for a reason.

At the time our house was built, code was not being enforced in our community. That didn’t happen until around 2003, the inspector told our project manager.

The reconstruction of our house will be delayed a week or so, in order to get a concrete company in to dig down eight feet and pour the cement piers to secure the posts.

I told Dan about my feeling of unease when I’d stood on the deck, and how I’d gone back inside quickly. “That’s right. If your gut tells you something, obey,” he said.

Who knows where that feeling came from. Maybe there was a vibration that quivered in my bones. Maybe the house was talking to me.

Or maybe it was just an emotion.

Today’s penny is a 2000, the year that those deck posts were put in the ground.



One thought on “On shaky ground”

  1. I am reading a book by Daniel Kahneman called “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” It talks about system one and system two thinking and how our gut instincts are part of system one. When I read about our unconscious (instinctive) response to danger, I thought of this post. It’s a fascinating book, by the way.

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