July 17, 2013 10:01 pm
Updated: July 17, 2013 10:05 pm

Edmonton woman in a battle with contractor after discovering her deck is a fire hazard

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EDMONTON – An Edmonton homeowner has realized her four-year-old deck is a safety hazard. She wants the contractor to fix it, and would also like to know how it even got approved by the city in the first place. But so far, neither of those have been an easy feat.

It was while doing some spring cleaning last month, that some discolouration on the stairs caught Laurie Gallup’s eye.

“I saw charred marks, brown and black, on the step. So then I went and looked underneath, and it’s all charred.”

It turns out that the stairs of the deck are being burned from underneath by the fireplace vent. Instead of the 12 inches of clearance on all sides that fireplace experts recommend, the vent only has 2 inches between it and the wooden stairs.

“I was really, really mad, and I thought: ‘What if I didn’t look down at that exact spot…we could’ve used it for another year and potentially set our house on fire, so it was really upsetting,” Gallup said.

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“And I thought, too: ‘What if it had just charred to the point when someone was walking down the step and it cracked?'”

Gallup called Four Seasons Landscaping, Irrigation and Construction who built the deck. She claims staff initially tried to tell her the discolouration was just soot. Then instead of agreeing to cover the cost of removing the stairs, they apparently offered her another option.

“She just said they can cut a hole in the step to let the heat out. That was her plan for a fix. So I looked at her…I was kind of shocked to be honest, because I thought ‘How is that safe at all?'” Gallup said, laughing with disbelief.

“And I even asked her, ‘Do you really think that’s a safe option?’ and she just sort of shrugged. ‘That’s what we can do.'”

According to Gallup, the contractor said the company built the stairs there because that’s where her husband wanted them.

“I told her, ‘we asked you if this would be okay building over this vent, and you told us yes,'” Gallup said, adding that she and her husband would have designed the deck differently had they been told the vent was an issue.

Gallup says the contractor didn’t put the vent on the plans it submitted to the City for the permit, but she still wonders how the deck passed an inspection.

City officials tell Global News the structure is assessed under the Alberta Building Code. If the inspector observes other hazards, they would be identified for a follow up inspection. It appears there wasn’t one here.

The contractor refused an interview but says it has been building decks for many years without complaints. After hearing from Global Edmonton’s Trouble Shooter, the company did offer to refund the family $1,500, but only if online negative reviews were removed and this story didn’t air.

Gallup would just like to see some of her money back, so that she can pay to have the problems fixed. Because there are also concerns with the structural soundness of the deck pilings, she worries that the entire deck may have to be rebuilt.

“I just want it taken care of. I want to have a deck that I know I can use, that isn’t going to set anything on fire.”

With files from Julie Matthews, Global News

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