Robert Lamoureux | Patio structure suffered from shady workmanship

Robert Lamoureux

Question: Robert, my name is John, I live in Canyon Country. I had a patio shade structure built by a handyman and now I am regretful for not going with a proper contractor for this project. The width is 14 feet and the beam he used opposite the house end to tie all of the wood together is a 4- by 8-foot piece of lumber.  

This thing is twisting like a piece of licorice. It’s sagging in the middle and the boards that are connecting to it are beginning to separate, making it look like the roof will cave in. Of course, I cannot get hold of the guy again. What do I do? 

Answer: John, the rule of thumb (not engineering or engineering terms) is that you need one inch of height for each linear foot of the beam. For example, your 14-foot opening should minimally be a 4-inch by 14-inch beam to accommodate the expanse here. You need to immediately shore this up and keep people out from under it until this is done. Shore up the joists that are going from the house to this inadequate ledger board, replace it with the proper-sized beam.  

I have to say that this should be permitted and inspected by the city, something you were likely avoiding in the beginning. Santa Clarita is amazing to work with, and especially in this case where there was great oversight in safety, I’d strongly encourage you to go the proper route and have this inspected. Life safety is already at risk. You may not know where else this handyman cut corners and could be in danger being underneath.  

Have it checked out and finished properly. Best of luck. 

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].       

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