Decks and Porches

Decks and Porches

Looking to construct a wood deck or porch for your house? Complete a permit application and submit:  

  • Completed building permit application
  • One copy of a sealed mortgage survey without modifications
  • Three sets of construction plans
  • Three site plans that indicate the size, shape, location, and distance from property lines and easements  

To schedule an inspection, contact:
Kathy McClintic
Community and Economic Development


How do I frame the deck?

Framing a Deck

  • All material in contact with the ground shall be rated for ground contact use.
  • Beams must sit on top of the posts or be attached to the posts with approved hardware (bolts alone are not approved).
  • Joists must sit on top of the beams or be attached with approved hardware.
  • Make sure  that all nails, brackets and fasteners used are hot dipped, zinc coated, galvanized, or stainless steel.

How does the soil type determine the size and number of post supports needed for the deck?

Decks need to be designed to support 50 pounds per square foot on the walking surface.Sandy soils will support 2000 pounds per square foot. An 8-inch diameter concrete base (12 inches thick) under the post will support 14 square feet of deck surface.

Silt or clay soils will support 1500 pounds per square foot.  An 8-inch diameter concrete base (12 inches thick) under the post will support 10.5 square feet of deck surface.

What are the acceptable dimensions of Treads and Risers?

Per 2009 Michigan Residential Code, the maximum riser height shall be 8-1/4 inches and the minimum tread depth shall be 9 inches.

Treads greater than 9 inches and less than 11 inches shall have a ¾ inch to 1-¼ inch nosing.

The greatest tread depth within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 of an inch. The greatest riser height within any flight of stairs shall not exceed the smallest by more than 3/8 of an inch.

What are the maximum span between joist supports?

Joists are used to support the deck floor.

What are the requirements for the foundation?

Posts need to be set on 12 inches of poured concrete, a minimum of 42 inches below grade and bearing on undisturbed soil.

What are the rules for handrail construction?

Stairways that have four risers or more must have a handrail between 34 and 38 inches measured vertically from the nosing of the treads.  (The tread is the part of the stair that you walk on, the nose is the edge of the tread).

All required handrails shall be continuous and run the full length of the stairs. Ends shall be returned or terminate into a wall.

The handgrip portion of the handrails shall not be more than 2-1/4 inches in cross-sectional dimension or the shape shall provide an equivalent gripping surface. The handgrip portion of handrails shall have a smooth surface with no sharp corners.

Handrails adjacent to a wall shall have a space of not less than 1-1/2 inches between the wall and the handrail.

What dimensions should be used for the Deck Floor?

Decking (Deck Floor) is generally 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 nominal size material that spans 16 inches to 24 inches.

(5/4 material spans 16 inches or less).

What does a Deck Site Plan look like?

Sample of a Deck Site Plan

When do I need to build a guard rail?

Guardrails for porches, decks, or balconies or that are located more than 30 inches above grade shall have guardrails at least 36 inches in height.

Open sides of stairs with a total rise of more than 30 inches above the floor or grade below shall have guardrails not less than 36 inches in height measured vertically from the nosing of the treads.

Required guardrails on open sides of stairways, decks, balconies and porches shall have intermediate rails or ornamental closures which will not allow passage of an object 4 inches in diameter.

Horizontal spacing between the vertical members in required guardrails shall be less than 4 inches at the farthest point between the members.

Triangular openings formed by the riser, tread and bottom rail of a guard at the open side of a stairway may not allow passage of an object 6 inches in diameter.

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