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I have a small, <30" high deck which is currently not attached to the house (stucco wall). My contractor claims it would be required by code (Location: San Mateo, California) to attach it to the exterior wall, and regardless, attaching it would be the much cleaner and correct way to do it.

Even though I fully trust him properly doing flashing and waterproofing, I am concerned about waterproofing (it's one more item where something can go wrong down the line). Additionally, it's more expensive.

Should a small 2-3ft deck be attached to the exterior stucco wall?

Here is a picture:

enter image description here

PS: I should mention, contractor is currently redoing sheathing and stucco on said wall and proposes to add this to the project scope.

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  • Do you have a picture? Normally you do not attach a small deck to a house after it is fully built and supported.
    – DMoore
    Commented Jun 24 at 16:45
  • @DMoore Added picture per request. Since the wall is being redont (sheathing and stucco), this can be likened to a "rebuilt"
    – divB
    Commented Jun 24 at 16:51
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    I sincerely doubt that it’s a ‘code requirement’ to attach your deck. Call building services — the desk will be able to answer that question quickly and easily. Given that the house envelope is being worked on, it would be easy to do a good job of the ledger, though, and it is accurate to say that the deck will be more solid. Commented Jun 24 at 20:01
  • What have you hired this contractor to do for you?
    – Huesmann
    Commented Jun 25 at 13:16
  • @Huesmann redoing sheathing, insulation, stucco (not the deck).
    – divB
    Commented Jun 25 at 15:56

2 Answers 2

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I don't see anything indicating the deck is floating or not. I see a separate base under the main deck joists which I would bet it is floating, but not sure unless I see a picture of under deck next to house. Either way if the deck is functioning well I would not attach it differently. Also given the climate I don't see heaving being a problem so there isn't a benefit from that aspect.

Also you have a couple of things you need to do or think about...

  1. Did the city inspect deck when it was built? If yes then this contractor seems to be talking out his ass. If no then do you want this contractor messing with a deck that looks nice and is functioning fine?

  2. If the city did not inspect deck, is it out of compliance? That deck seems very professionally built and I have high doubts that it didn't meet code. Anyone who makes a deck that nice isn't skimping on basic code requirements.

  3. If the deck is out of compliance and you are happy with the deck, then you need to find another contractor who won't bother the deck. Obviously there is no safety issue with the deck so complying here is just paperwork, not better build.

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Decks are attached to a house via a ledger and brackets which join to joists underneath the deck. I wouldn't worry about the waterproofing. The ledger is either under the roof overhang/gutter system or it has an appropriate aluminum z-flashing to shed water falling below the house. The ledger could be stained or painted with a waterproof coating. You should spell out the specifics in any contract. It has an aesthetic effect of pulling the deck "tight" to the house.

EDIT: I now see the picture and this is definitely not a floating deck and indeed needs to be joined to the house.

"Floating decks" don't need to be joined to the house, but the definition of a floating deck varies from region to region based on code (you don't say where you are). 2 to 3 feet may very well be too wide a margin to say. You can even build up the soil around the deck to make it a "floating" deck. Since I doubt you can easily gain access to the underside of your deck, it may be overkill if it's not strictly necessary to do this.

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  • Thank you! Just edited and added location (San Mateo, CA) as well.
    – divB
    Commented Jun 24 at 17:34

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