Last fall, my company was awarded the contract to upgrade the backyard of a Yorba Linda, Calif., home with a new multilevel 734-square-foot deck. Complicating matters, a portion of the new deck—basically an elevated walkway along the side of the house to the new backyard living area—would be located directly above a municipal sewer pipe and within a 15-foot-wide sewer easement that ran between the house and the property line. For the project to be approved, the city required future access to the pipe in case of trouble and a 5-foot minimum clearance between the pipe and any new deck footings.

To meet these requirements, project engineer Allstar Design & Engineering Group of Orange, Calif., initially designed a cantilevered framing plan for this portion of the deck, with the cantilevered beams partially supported by 4x4 posts bearing on floating 8-inch-thick by 24-inch-square concrete pads. If future access to the pipe became necessary, the engineer designed the pads and posts so that they could be removed without disturbing the deck framing. In the case of a major problem, that entire area of the deck would have to be removed.

While the building and zoning departments approved our plan, the water department nixed the idea of floating pad footings. I wasn’t surprised; actually, I was shocked when the city signed off on the initial plan in the first place, so we went back to the engineer to beef up the cantilever design and eliminate the floating footings. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t get any major plan changes through the city in an acceptable amount of time, so we just went with the original drawing but with beefier cantilevers and without the removable pad footings.

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