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Omaha contractor violates Council Bluffs deck rules

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 6:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Even on hot days, Council Bluffs homeowner Trish Adams worries about kids going for a swim by crossing double decker code violations to get there.

“It’s not safe for the kids to run and play on,” she said. “Of course that affects their ability to use the pool.”

Based on Facebook reviews, Adams paid Omaha contractor Ricky Harris $9,500 to build two decks. But the workmanship had them taking another step.

“We had the city come out and look and, sure enough, they put the stop order on and said, ‘Your decks are not good. You need to redo them both,’” she said.

Inspectors found several code problems, including a support post in dirt. The deck plate anchored with screws, and a short step that may cause a long fall.

Another structural safety concern exists right under the place where the family prepares dinner. Two support posts holding up the 8-foot deck are sitting on the existing patio.

“The concrete could shift, and the whole thing could fall,” Adams said.

The city of Council Bluffs is issuing citations to Ricky Harris for not pulling permits on the deck project, and general contracting the work without a license.

“You, as a contractor, should know that there’s no way you’re going to install a deck without the proper permit,” said Jim Hegarty of the Better Business Bureau.

Hegarty called the contractor. “He told us that we can expect that the homeowner can expect a refund, an agreed-upon refund no later than Monday,” he said.

Harris said that, overall, the deck is safe. But the contractor’s interpretation of what’s not required in Council Bluffs is clearly wrong, according to the city’s chief building official. Harris faces two fines totaling almost $1,700 for no permit and no contractor’s license. He said he would pay the fine and won’t do any more projects in Council Bluffs.

Meanwhile, Adams has a daunting task. Doing the job right — by themselves — is all her family can afford.

“We’re going to have to do it very carefully so we can reuse the wood and the integrity of the wood is not lost,” she said. “It will be like taking a puzzle apart, one piece at a time.”

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