Feeney, Inc. Partners with NADRA to Promote Deck Safety

OAKLAND, Calif. – May 13, 2020 Feeney, Inc., a leading manufacturer of high quality stainless steel and aluminum railing systems, has teamed up with NADRA (North American Deck and Railing Association) to promote deck safety during Deck Safety Month®.

Presented each May by NADRA, Deck Safety Month® is focused on raising awareness of deck safety for building industry professionals and homeowners. According to NADRA, an estimated 30 million of the more than 60 million residential and commercial decks located in the U.S. have exceeded their useful life and are in need of repair or replacement. 

And those numbers have significant consequences. During a single four-year period, more than 220,000 people nationwide were injured while on their deck or porch. Approximately 15 percent of those injuries resulted from a structural failure or collapse, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

“As outdoor living grows in popularity, it has become even more important to make sure outdoor structures such as decks are properly built and maintained,” said Andrew Toimil, chief product officer for Feeney, Inc. “Over the years, decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow and extreme temperature changes. Regularly inspecting them will help to ensure they remain strong and safe, providing valuable peace of mind for homeowners.”

Most experts agree that wood decks have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. After that point, even routinely sealed decks become more susceptible to wood rot and other potential hazards that can compromise their safety. In addition, structural elements can contribute to deck failure, including incorrectly flashed ledger board, dropped or heaved deck footings, rusty or missing metal connectors, and insufficient railings. To help ensure long-term success in a deck project, it is important that decks are properly constructed, including using proper blocking to reduce bounce and provide structural integrity, along with strong, weather-resistant fasteners.

NADRA has developed checklists and safety awareness information for consumers to ensure they have the information required to thoroughly evaluate their decks. Consumers can also learn about deck safety considerations in How Safe is Your Deck? Four Warning Signs You Should Know About

Feeney is a Deck Safety Ambassador and longstanding supporter of NADRA, which has created campaigns and educational programs, along with certifications for building industry professionals to promote proper deck installation practices. Feeney also offers online technical resources developed to provide deck professionals with in-depth railing specifications and installation information.

For more about Deck Safety Month®, visit www.nadra.org/deck-safety

About Feeney
Feeney, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of high quality architectural products that enhance the spaces where people live, work and play. Feeney residential and commercial products for exterior and interior applications include CableRail stainless steel cable assemblies, Quick-Connect® auto-locking cable fittings, DesignRail® aluminum railing systems with optional LED lighting, DesignRail® Panel Infill, stainless steel Architectural Rods, Awning Kits and the Trellis Collection of garden trellises. Since 1948, Oakland, California-based Feeney has been committed to providing construction professionals and DIY homeowners with innovative, easy-to-use products and unsurpassed service. For more information or the location of a dealer near you, please visit www.feeneyinc.com.


MoistureShield Raises Safety Awareness with North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) for Deck Safety Month® in May 2020

MoistureShield partners with NADRA as a Safety Ambassador to create awareness for Deck Safety Month® and encourages homeowners to ensure their deck is safe before planning family activities.

At a time when safety has never been more important for deck builders and their customers,MoistureShield is partnering with NADRA as a Safety Ambassador to create awareness for Deck Safety Month® in May 2020. NADRA devotes this month each year to remind homeowners to Check Your Deck® before planning family activities.

“With more than 60 million decks in the U.S., we estimate that 30 million decks are past their useful life and need repair or replacement,” said Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of NADRA.

These are strong reasons why NADRA and MoistureShield encourage homeowners to call on a professional inspector to inspect their decks if they have any concerns. Here are some basic red flags to look for:

  • Check for any deck board movement that may attribute to instability.
  • Examine decks for sagging, racking, or unsecured boards that may indicate loose fasteners.
  • Check the gap between ledger and joist–a widened gap may indicate that bolts need tightening.
  • Look for raised or corroded fasteners which may compromise the integrity of the deck structurally and on the surface, present a trip hazard or danger to bare feet.

“As part of Oldcastle APG, MoistureShield leads with safety first, in all aspects of how we go to market,” said Matthew Bruce, VP of Sales, MoistureShield. “Deck safety extends beyond just our products. Ensuring we support deck building best practices in the field is integral to our success, and the safety of our consumers.”

MoistureShield also has inherent safety features in many of its products. To keep homeowners safer, MoistureShield’s innovative CoolDeck® Technology reduces deck surface temperatures by up to 35% as a solution for decks or docks in direct sunlight. MoistureShield decking features superior slip resistance among composite options, offering homeowners great traction regardless of weather or proximity to water.

NADRA’s free “10-Point Consumer Safety Checklist” and additional safety awareness information can be found at http://www.nadra.org/deck-safety. Learn more about MoistureShield composite decking at http://www.MoistureShield.com.

About Oldcastle APG
North America’s largest manufacturer of outdoor living products, is part of CRH’s Building Products division. MoistureShield, a division of Oldcastle APG, proudly manufactures composite deck boards and related products, serving a range of retail and distribution customers across North America and several international markets. The development of new technologies and patents has enabled MoistureShield to manufacture superior composite products from recycled wood fiber and recycled polyethylene plastic. Learn more at http://www.MoistureShield.com.

About NADRA:
The North American Decking and Railing Association is the voice of the decking industry, representing the interests of deck builders, inspectors, and manufacturers alike. NADRA’s mission is to provide a unified source for the professional development, promotion, growth, and sustenance of the deck and railing building industry in North America so that members can exceed the expectations of their customers. http://www.NADRA.org

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CAMO® Supports NADRA’s Deck Safety Month® in May and Helps Contractors Build a Better, Safer Deck

National Nail’s CAMO® deck fastening brand partners with the North American Deck & Railing Association’s (NADRA) Deck Safety Month® in May to look out for worker safety as well as encourage creating decks that are safer for homeowners.

During these unprecedented times, safety is top of mind for both homeowners and contractors. National Nail’s CAMO® deck fastening brand partners with the North American Deck & Railing Association’s (NADRA) Deck Safety Month® in May to look out for worker safety as well as encourage creating decks that are safer for homeowners.

According to Michael Beaudry, NADRA’s executive vice president, “There are more than 60 million decks in the U.S., and it’s estimated that 30 million decks are past their useful life and need to be replaced or repaired.” NADRA’s free “10-Point Consumer Safety Checklist” can be found at http://www.NADRA.org.

The stay-at-home orders in many states are also creating a pent-up desire for outdoor spaces. “Homeowners cannot wait to get outdoors to enjoy their existing or new decks,” said W. Scott Baker, CEO, National Nail. “Deck Safety Month is the perfect opportunity for pros and their customers to evaluate deck safety. We also encourage contractors to stay safe with proper PPE and social distancing as they get back to building.”

Built on innovation, the CAMO Experience offers several products that support safety and smaller crews with one- or two-person installation. Plus, when used in combination, they can help contractors build decks up to 5X faster. CAMO Edge Fastening for square edge boards creates strong connections into the joists as the proprietary screws are driven into the edge of the board on both sides for more stability. The unique CAMO EDGE and EDGEX Clip for grooved boards offer easy installation and are the strongest on the market in lateral movement tests. Both products leave a smooth, fastener-free surface that saves feet from popped screw heads that can also get blazing hot in the sun.

These methods are made even faster by the CAMO DRIVE™ Stand-Up tool, a lightning-fast way to drive them in while on your feet. And, the newest member of the CAMO Innovation family, the CAMO LEVER™, can straighten, lock-in, and align any deck board on any joist with one easy turn, enabling smaller crews to handle bigger jobs.

With CAMO products, homeowners get a safer, more stable deck, while contractors benefit from speedier installations that reduce labor, time and ultimately, jobsite fatigue. Learn more at http://www.camofasteners.com.

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About CAMO:    

CAMO exists to provide the best deck fastening installation experience for hardworking folks who take pride in their work and value their wallet. That’s you. Whether you install decks for a living, offer to help build them with a buddy, or maybe build just one in your lifetime, CAMO products are engineered to save you time and ensure your work looks and performs as you expect it should. CAMO®. The Better Way to Build a Deck.

For more information or to locate a dealer, visit camofasteners.com or call 1-800-968-6245. Be sure to “Like” @camofasteners on Facebook and @camodeckfasteners on Instagram. Search CAMO Fasteners on YouTube to find our channel or check us out on Pinterest.

About NADRA:

The North American Decking and Railing Association is the voice of the decking industry, representing the interests of deck builders, inspectors, and manufacturers alike. NADRA’s mission is to provide a unified source for the professional development, promotion, growth, and sustenance of the deck and railing building industry in North America so that members can exceed the expectations of their customers. http://www.NADRA.org

Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services to Celebrate May as ‘Building Safety Month’ with Series of Events Including Free Residential Deck Inspections

Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services (DPS) will join in the celebration of the 40th Annual “Building Safety Month” with a series of activities including free inspections of residential decks. The theme of this year’s worldwide safety campaign is “Safer Buildings, Safer Communities, Safer World.”

The theme highlights the importance of building codes for providing a strong and resilient-built environment, and regularly updated codes that ensure that communities are protected in the face of disasters.
Although residents are under restrictions for group gatherings, even in private settings, during the COVID-19 health crisis, it is anticipated that future improving conditions will lead to social gatherings—including those on residential decks. Last year, there were two reported collapses in Montgomery County—making the free DPS deck inspection program even more critical.

Residents can call 311 or 240-777-0311 to find out more information about the deck inspection program and to schedule an appointment.  
“As the new director for Permitting Services, I am excited to highlight on how DPS works to keep our communities safe,” said Mitra Pedoeem. “The DPS ‘Check Your Deck’ program has been a staple of the celebration of Building Safety Month. Even though we are working within the protocols necessitated by the health crisis, DPS will be able to offer residents free deck inspections again this May. We hope many residents take advantage of this program to ensure that their families and guests will be safe.”
This year’s Building Safety Month includes four weekly themes and DPS has webinars planned corresponding to each. The schedule:

  • May 1-10: Disaster Preparedness. DPS will host a webinar on how to make sure structures are safe. This will include a “Check Your Deck” webinar.
  • May 11-17: Water Safety. DPS will emphasize programs that help keep the water and environment clean. There will be a Clean Water webinar.
  • May 18-24: Resiliency. Sustainability. Innovation. DPS will focus on innovations and Green Building codes through a webinar.
  • May 25-31: Training the Next Generation. Students from Thomas Edison High School in Wheaton will be featured in a webinar on how to get young residents involved in building a cleaner and safer future.

For actual times of webinars, visit the DPS web page at https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/dps/

Building Safety Month will allow DPS to highlight its availability to homeowners and businesses, even during the health crisis. The department continues to perform key inspections, reviews, issuance of certificates and processing of licenses and permits. 

During the health crisis, DPS has been adapting and modifying its business processes to provide a broad range of uninterrupted services to help businesses operate if they were not under restrictions.

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Release ID: 20-233
Media Contact: Jessica Fusillo 240-401-6570

National Deck Safety Month®

As seen in the ASHI Reporter

May is Deck Safety Month® and once again, we’d like to spotlight the partnership that ASHI has with the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA).

ASHI’s relationship with NADRA over the years has helped raise awareness of just how important home inspectors are when reviewing the decks, railings and stairs that are found on more than 80% of homes. NADRA created the first-ever Professional Deck Inspection Certification for ASHI members and its membership now includes more than 800 ASHI inspector members, 250 of whom are NADRA-certified deck inspectors. This important partnership brings the two associations together. Professional ASHI home inspectors who are NADRA–certified Deck Inspectors, can network with fellow NADRA Industry Professional members, who can provide much-needed expertise in deck installation and repairs.

Membership and certification with NADRA allow ASHI members who have completed their deck certifications to specially market their expertise. To showcase that they provide deck safety inspections, they can tap into NADRA resources, including access to the NADRA logo, Deck Safety Ambassador logo and the Check Your Deck® National Program. As a Certified NADRA Deck Inspector, an ASHI member will also receive a personal online profile that can be used to generate leads under the Find an Inspector section of the website.

Deck inspections can be a great way to drive business as a whole by providing a needed service to communities. Having a NADRA certification validates the inspector’s high level of competence. Michael Beaudry, NADRA Founder and Executive Vice President, commented, “A great way for inspectors to increase business is by marketing deck inspections.” 

Marketing your expertise can build revenue and add to your client base. By performing a deck safety inspection for a client, you’re positioning yourself to be their inspector in the future, as they will remember your skills and will call on you when they plan to move to a new home.

Incidentally, with the social distancing that we are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic, inspectors can continue to generate income while providing very important deck inspections. By conducting deck inspections, which are done outdoors, you can keep a safe distance from others while keeping your company’s name and reputation at the forefront. By working in your communities during this time, you can differentiate yourself from the competition.

NADRA is on track to achieve its goal of certifying 1,000 ASHI members in deck safety. With 30 or more ASHI members attending each chapter’s NADRA education and certification session, home inspectors affiliated with ASHI chapters are a fast-growing part of NADRA membership.

Beaudry said, “ASHI leaders are extremely serious about moving the inspection profession forward. They drive home the message that education is a key element to having a successful inspection business. That philosophy trickles down to the members, and it creates a community in which ASHI members take their job seriously and are genuinely passionate about learning.”

As a result, he commented, “ASHI members are fantastic students at the NADRA course. They take great notes and they pay attention. You know the class is going well when people are engaged and asking questions, even toward the end of the session.

To make a simple projection of the benefits to the community at large, if the roughly 60 certified inspectors in St. Louis (where NADRA has provided its deck inspection class for the St. Louis Chapter) each perform three deck safety inspections per week during 45 weeks in a year, that could equate to a total of 8,100 decks being inspected in one year alone. In turn, this number increases the corresponding prevention of potential injuries (or worse) due to the types of accidents and injuries that can happen with the use of old and decaying decks. 

Think of the difference we will make as we work together to spread the word on Deck Safety across North America.

ASHI’s new micro-credential: Deck Specialty Inspector

Think you know how to inspect a deck? Think again! 

Both the ASHI and NADRA deck courses will surprise you. After taking one of these courses, you will understand why inspecting decks is more complicated than most inspectors realize. You will never look at a deck in the same way again. Taking a deck inspection course gives you the knowledge you need to inspect decks and identify defects based on objective standards, not just on your opinion. You will learn how to prioritize defects, and how to report defects to your clients so that they can understand and use the valuable information that you provide.

ASHI’s St. Louis Chapter Embraces Deck Safety

The St. Louis chapter was one of the first chapters to offer NADRA’s deck education and certification program, and the chapter has promoted deck safety during two seminars in 2017 and 2019. The first offering was as a bonus day of training in conjunction with a seminar and members paid to take the NADRA course. 

During the second offering, the class was included in the price of the regular seminar and approximately 120 ASHI inspectors attended. Because the St. Louis chapter includes all training in its annual dues, there was no additional cost for members to get this training. 

Those who wanted to get certified or recertify had the option to take the NADRA Deck Inspector Certification test at a reduced price, as the chapter subsidized a portion of the certification and recertification fees. Currently in the St. Louis chapter, approximately one-third of its 175 members are NADRA Certified Deck Inspectors. 

Mark Goodman, who served as the ASHI St. Louis Chapter President from 2018 to 2019, said, “The education we received was eye-opening. Most of our members stated they would never look at a deck the same way after taking the NADRA class taught by Jim Maley with Simpson Strong-Tie. We brought the NADRA class to the St. Louis chapter seminars twice because after taking the eye-opening class, we wanted to make sure all of the chapter’s members were on the same page when inspecting decks.”

The Value of Deck Inspection Education and Certification

Comments from St. Louis Chapter ASHI Certified Inspectors 

Paying attention to the details is vital when inspecting. The points and checklists presented during the certification class reinforced my knowledge of deck components and design. I routinely discuss the importance of regular deck inspections with my local agents, neighborhood groups and building associations.

Earning the deck certification was time well spent. Working together with other organizations to improve consumer awareness and safety benefits the entire inspection profession.

John Wessling, ASHI Certified Inspector, Instructor for The ASHI School and 2014 President of St. Louis ASHI, ASHI Treasurer
Wessling Home Inspection Services, St. Louis, MO, john@wesslinginspections.com

A lot has changed in the past few years regarding deck construction methods. Decks used to be constructed like you would build any other portion of a house. Now that we understand why decks fail, decks are built differently. There used to be very little in the code explicitly relating to decks—that has changed thanks to NADRA’s efforts. Every new deck should be built according to the current best practices (AWC-DC6), soon to be replaced by NADRA’s best practices.

Statistically, handrail failure is the largest source of deck injuries, followed closely by attachment to the building. The most valuable things I learned by taking a NADRA deck inspection class (the gold standard for deck inspections) or the new ASHI deck inspection specialist course were related to the proper attachment of handrails and deck structure to the house. I also learned many nuances, like post sizes, notching of a post and required hardware.

We already encourage homebuyers to choose ASHI Certified Inspectors to perform their home inspections. After taking NADRA’s class twice, I see there is a tremendous market for stand-alone deck inspections. This can be an area that home inspectors use to expand their services and increase their revenue. Having the NADRA certification gives home inspectors a competitive edge. More importantly, it arms you with the tools and knowledge you will need to perform a superior deck inspection and promote deck safety.

Mark Goodman, ASHI Certified Inspector, ASHI Director and St. Louis ASHI Chapter Past-President
Brewer Inspection Services, Manchester, MO, mark@homeinspectstl.com

As the current president of the ASHI St. Louis Chapter and as a longtime member of the Chapter Education Committee, it was an honor and pleasure to have NADRA at our chapter seminars in 2017 and 2019. Mike Beaudry, representing NADRA, and Jim Maley, the main speaker for the presentation, were true professionals who put on a world-class show for our members. The NADRA class and presentation gave our members a new look at how we inspect and report on decks.

I have 23 years as an ASHI inspector, but I really did not pay that much attention to the color of rust when making a call on the integrity of the deck and the structural connections. Each and every one of our inspectors came out of this class with something they never thought of when inspecting a deck. 

We all know how inspectors are very visual; most inspectors get bored with speakers who just read from a textbook or from the slides of their presentation. So what does NADRA do? It shows actual film of deck failures with people on the decks. Everyone in the class kind of sat up straight with their eyes wide open for that. I was guessing that ASHI inspectors were saying to themselves, “I wonder who was the last inspector to inspect that deck?”

There is no ASHI inspector in this country who wants to answer to any family member that was injured (or worse) on any deck
that he or she inspected. 

“Then there was the issue of a test at the end of the class before  receiving your certification. Did I really see inspectors actually taking notes, in this digital age, to ensure that they passed the test? Yes, all our inspectors were on deck (pun intended) for this presentation. Well done, NADRA, and we look forward to having you visit our chapter again in the future. “

Harry Morrell2020 St. Louis ASHI Chapter President
Allied Building Inspections, harry@allied-inspectors.com

May is Deck Safety Month®

NADRA Encourages you to Check Your Deck® This May

During Deck Safety Month® and throughout the year, homeowners can take advantage of resources and tools from the North American Decking and Railing Association to ensure the security and longevity of their decks.

Quakertown, PA – (April 30th, 2020) – May is Deck Safety Month®, the perfect time for homeowners to ensure their decks are in top condition for the season ahead. As you are spending more time at home with your loved ones, The North American Decking and Railing Association (NADRA) invites consumers to Check Your Deck® using resources such as the 10-Point Consumer Checklist.

With more than 60 million decks in the U.S. (50m residential and 10m commercial), it is estimated that 30 million decks are past their useful life and need to be replaced or repaired. “It’s crucial for homeowners to have their decks inspected to verify the integrity of their deck to ensure user safety as well as help extend the deck’s life-span, improve appearance, and increase livability,” says Michael Beaudry, Executive Vice President of NADRA. “We’re proud to offer an array of tools to help consumers check their decks as well as connect with building professionals with the know-how to identify and remedy potential problems.” says Beaudry.
Consumers can visit NADRA.org to take advantage of resources to Check Your Deck®, including:

10-Point Checklist: Homeowners can download the 10-Point Deck Safety Consumer Checklist , a step-by-step guide to visually inspecting the deck for safety concerns such as corroding fasteners, decaying materials, loose railings, inadequate lighting, and more. Though not a replacement for a professional deck inspection, the checklist is a helpful tool to assist homeowners.

Find an Inspector: NADRA and the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) offer building professionals the NADRA Deck Inspection Certification Course, which certifies the recipient has undergone training specific to conducting proper, thorough deck inspections. Consumers can search for a certified inspector in their area by browsing the NADRA Inspectors Directory.

Find a Builder: NADRA deck builders adhere to a strict code of ethics and are required to submit proof of licensing and insurance as required by their state. Homeowners can search for qualified deck builders at www.NADRA.org.

Visit NADRA.org to access all of NADRA’s Deck Safety Month® resources.

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About NADRA:

The North American Decking and Railing Association is the voice of the decking industry, representing the interests of deck builders, inspectors, and manufacturers alike. NADRA’s mission is to provide a unified source for the professional development, promotion, growth, and sustenance of the deck and railing building industry in North America so that members can exceed the expectations of their customers. www.NADRA.org

© Copyright 2020 North American Deck and Railing Association. All rights reserved.

Media Contact:

Name: Michael Beaudry
Title: Executive Vice President
Phone: 215-679-4884
Email Address:Info@NADRA.org

When the Building Department Closes

By: Glenn Mathewson

Let’s avoid the discussion about “why” building departments are closing, reducing services, or not doing certain inspections.  For virus advice, please head to the CDC or your local health department. In this article, let’s use our First Amendment right and discuss ideas for deck builders that need and choose to keep working, but don’t know how.  These ideas are not for normal times. They are for times when out-of-the-box thinking is required, and norms must be challenged.

Our nation’s building authorities do so much to protect our communities, but if you consider humanity’s timeline of acquiring, maintaining, and improving “shelter”, a building department is a modern convenience.  There were owners, designers, tradespeople, contractors, suppliers, and even utility service providers involved with construction long before there were permits and inspectors. Do you still stop at a red light even when officers are not around?  Most of us do. Can you still comply with code even when the inspector is not around? Yes, but it’s probably going to take more effort. There will be greater risk in absence of their help. Like a red-light traffic camera, if you don’t follow the rules now, you will have to address it later.  So how do you fill in temporarily for the building department, if any hope of their assistance is gone?

Inspections

Government inspections need no justification of their importance.  They keep professionals honest, they reveal the nuances of the local construction standards, and they offer a sense of protection to the general public.  A temporary delay of inspections creates a time gap where mistakes can go uncorrected. Inspection delays happen when unusual events occur and create more work than can be handled, such as roof inspections after a major hailstorm.  At these times, 3rd party, private inspectors are often approved by the jurisdiction at the cost of the contractor. Many building departments already are providing guidance for using 3rd party inspectors and more are likely to follow.  Engineers, architects, and home inspectors could all provide this service, IF they are knowledgeable and experienced in current codes. Larger urban areas likely have code consulting firms able to offer inspections. The problem may be the same though, as you have to get them to leave their home.  If deck builders are left to fend for themselves, they will have to get creative.

  • The Self Inspection:  When it’s time for an inspection, come back the next morning or after lunch with a different hat on.  Go through the whole deck like you’ve never seen it before and write a correction list. Don’t fix anything until you’re done playing inspector.  Have everyone on the crew do this and compare your inspection reports.
  • The Crew Inspection:  For builders with multiple crews, consider having the leads of different crews inspect each other’s work.  It may be hard to get subcontractors to play nice together, but that was so 2019.
  • The Competitor Inspection:  Have you been friendly in your industry?  Maybe made friends with other NADRA members?  Nothing sounds crazy anymore, so maybe exchange a game of “play inspector” with them. 

Code Compliance

A lack of code education is the single greatest cause of code violations and not even inspectors are immune.  The catch is that even if you know the IRC cover to cover, you still aren’t ready to play inspector. You’ve got to know the locally adopted and likely amended code.  Those that continue to build, have a greater duty than ever to build correctly…but that’s not defined in the IRC, it’s defined by each authority. The plan review process usually reveals any local requirements and it allows mistakes to be corrected easily and on paper.  If the chaos continues and you’ve got to start a new project, you still need to do a plan review. Using the same advice provided for inspections, create the best, most detailed set of plans you can, and have someone else do a plan review.  Here are some suggestions if you find yourself in that situation.

  • Review similar past projects and any red lines on plans or revision letters.  Look over the inspection reports from the same jurisdiction.
  • Go online to the building department website and look at their code adoptions and amendments.  Review any guides or handouts they have provided. You may not realize how much assistance has been there all along to help you succeed.
  • Look at the planning and zoning requirements for setbacks, maximum and minimum required areas, and even material types that may be regulated in ordinances and can differ from neighborhood to neighborhood.  Common conditions that trigger unique rules include decks close to property lines, visible from public ways, built with unique materials, at multi-family buildings, or serving a front door.
  • Unusual designs and alternative products and materials may be something to avoid right now, as they get more inconsistent approval amongst building authorities.  Now is a good time to stick to what is easy, proven, and has been successful in the past.
  • Have an engineer review your structural plans and seal them.  This will be incredible valuable to you, but remember it only covers the structural aspects.

Record keeping

Another service of the building authority is record keeping.  Rest assured, they will update records from work during this period, and you would be very wise to make that job very easy for them.  The records you keep as a business are not the ones the building department wants. When your “creative” inspections or reviews are performed, record the date, who did it, and what assumptions were made.  What code is it under? What zoning is it in? What setbacks are required? Write down the details, even if you don’t know what details you should write. Write them all. Take photos and video—of everything.  The more due diligence you do now, the easier it will be to work with the building authority later. If they know you took their absence seriously and acted as professionally as possible, they are more apt to work with you on any resolutions.

This article isn’t suggesting you do work without a government permit, plan review, or inspection, but if you are going to anyway, find someone to perform their function, even if it’s you.  Whatever risk you choose to take in absence of the building department, keep the owner of the property well in the loop and involved. You must have them as an ally and a witness. Finally, you must have your head in the right place.  If you have a negative attitude about the role permits, plan review, and inspection have in your work, you really should just stay home. You’re not ready to be a substitute. Now is a time to realize that the building department was helping your success all along.  If you are going to do their job, you’ve first got to respect it.

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The North American Deck and Railing Association. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of  their opinion, and are not intended to malign any club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.

NADRA Code Update

March 11, 2020: ASCE-7 Subcommittee meeting on Minimum Design Loads:

By: Mark Guthrie, NADRA Code Committee

Members of NADRA’s Code Committee participated in a call held last Wednesday by the ASCE-7 Subcommittee on Minimum Design Loads.  We were there due to a proposal under consideration by this influential group of engineers to add a new load requirement to deck boards. 

The proponent was looking to mandate at first a 300 then a 250-pound concentrated load requirement on deck boards based primarily on anecdotal evidence of board failures and the increase in average weight of our population.  We feel that this change, if allowed to pass, would result in the tightening of spans between joists, the reformulation and retesting of currently well performing composite and vinyl deck boards at a substantial increase in cost for the customer with little or no appreciable increase in safety. 

ASCE respectfully allowed us to speak of our opposition, with much of our testimony spent educating the group on the already strict performance requirements of ASTM D-7032.  Some of our time was also spent drawing parallels between this proposed change and the lateral load connectors that were forced into code lacking the sufficient facts or data to support them, only to be watered down in future code and in many cases unenforced. 

Ultimately, the Subcommittee voted 8-0 in favor but two members abstained in lieu of more study.  In the near future, this item will go to the Main Committee of ASCE for a vote.  We will be continuing to be a presence within the process make our opposition known in the hopes that the best and most fact based standards will result.                       

NADRA Code Update: What Happens in Vegas…

By Glenn Mathewson, NADRA Technical Advisor

…doesn’t stay in Vegas, at least not when it’s about deck code!  Here’s a recap of what to expect in your 2021 International Residential Code from the ICC Public Comment Hearing that occurred in Las Vegas last week.  This information is as fresh as it gets, because NADRA members don’t chase behind future codes, they are part of their creation.

Proposals that did not receive any public comment disputing the committee decision at the first hearing in May are lumped together in a “consensus vote” and these are as good as done.  Here are the proposals the committee approved and will be in the 2021 code.

  • RB187-19:  The organization of footing depth and frost protection provisions have been modified for better comprehension.  Frost protection for decks, previously in the foundation chapter, are now located alongside other deck provisions in the deck section 507.  An added bonus for the free market is a new method for frost protection: “Other approved method of frost protection”.  This will help new innovations that provide protection equivalent to digging a deep hole to have a better chance of being evaluated and approved for use.
  • RB188-19:  A minor change in wording makes it clear that a multi-ply beam must be fastened “together”.
  • RB189-19:  A minor change in wording clarifies that allowable beam cantilevers beyond an end post are based on the actual adjacent span of the beam, not the allowable span.
  • RB190-19:  Many don’t realize that the maximum allowable beam spans, based on the joist spans they carry, are actually sized assuming the joists are cantilevered beyond the beam by their maximum allowable distance.  When not cantilevering joists past a beam, this left beams significantly oversized.  A new modification footnote is now added to the beam span table to allow adjustments based on various percentages of joist cantilever and zero cantilever.  No longer will a beam span be limited based on loads that don’t exist.  This is a huge win for prescriptive deck designs to be closer to the actual design and not a “one-size-fits-all approach”.
  • RB191-19:  With the increase of deck designs and patterns in the industry, many decks are built with decking supported by only two joists and having only one span.  However, decking is not tested or evaluated for performance in this manner, manufactured or wood.  Technically speaking, they are not allowed to be installed in that manner without alternative approval, such as from an engineer.  To support decking designs with validated spans for “single span decking” the maximum joist spacing for wood decking table has been expanded.  5/4-inch wood decking is now provided single span limits of 12 inches for perpendicular installations and 8 inches for diagonal.  Those may appear as new limitations in deck construction, but they are actually new allowances.  What has been being done was never actually supported by the code.  Now it is.  It’s important to note that for manufactured decking, this change can’t be done in the IRC.  The testing standard must be changed.

Three of our proposals were turned down at the committee hearing, and we wrote public comments to give them a second chance.  Another one that was approved received an outside comment and thus needed reconsideration.  The results from the membership vote at the final hearings last week are not the final votes.  Governmental members will still have time after the hearings to make an online vote.  This can change the outcome, but here’s how those proposals currently stand.

  • RB46-19:  Guards and handrails are like peanut butter and jelly.  Just because they can be in the same sandwich, doesn’t mean they are the same thing.  Both are required to resist a 200 lb. concentrated load in “any direction”.  While handrails are meant for someone to purposefully brace themselves while ascending or descending obstacles, like stairs and ramps, guards are only meant to barricade an accidental fall over the edge of the deck.  This proposal changed the loading direction for guards to be only outward and downward and argued that guards don’t need to resist an inward or upward load of that magnitude.  The committee turned this down at the last hearing and said it was the decision of the American Society of Civil Engineers.  The ICC membership at the hearing last week disagreed, and through their professional experience in analyzing guards in backyards across this county, decided to make the decision.  The IRC has now broken away from the singular power of the ASCE to allow a wider diversity of professionals to develop residential codes.  There is value here far beyond this one proposal.  Much like rallying NADRA involvement in development of deck codes, no single group of professionals should be making any rules in our private homes.  That is the beauty of the transparent ICC development process.  Though the final vote is given only to governmental members (a single group of professionals), they are the only group free from financial interest or professional gain from the results.
  • RB184:  This was our biggest proposal and with modifications, the ICC membership voted it with a 98% approval!  That’s a great way to start the online voting and a good sign this will make it in the future code.  Here are some bullets of what this large proposal offers.
  • Design tables are increased for 50, 60, and 70 psf snow load regions, making the code more useful to more builders in the country and reducing the need for specific engineering.
    • The absolute minimum diameter footing was reduced from an excessive 14-inch diameter to as low as 8-inch diameter when supporting deck areas up to 5 square feet.  (consider a small stair landing with four footings/piers)
    • The post sizing table was expanded and based on the actual loads the post is carrying.  No longer are there single limits for post height based only on the heaviest possible loading.  Like with beams and joists cantilevers, previously mentioned, it’s no longer “one-size-fits-all”.
    • The joist span tables have been revised so that maximum cantilevers of joists are no longer based on the maximum allowable span of joists, but by their actual span.  Like other modifications, this allows design limits to be based on the actual deck design.
  • RB185-19:  This proposal was approved by the committee in the first hearing but received a public comment that fixed an oversight in the first proposal.  It was then approved by the membership.  New provisions prohibiting the notching of 4×4 guard posts at the connection point were included alongside language requiring guard post connection to tie into the overall framing of the deck, and not just a single side joist.  Without limiting guard design and construction methods and without providing any specific graphics, this proposal will support better guard construction without a loss in architectural freedom.
  • RB301-19:  Of all our proposals and all our testimony to other proposals, this was the only one that we didn’t win.  Turned down at the committee hearings, this proposal would have provided specific details for guard post connections in an appendix chapter.  An appendix chapter is optional and must be individually adopted by a government.  Though our industry fears pictures in the code (think…lateral load anchor), the compromise with others who don’t share this fear was to put them in an appendix.  The details provided engineered methods of resisting a 200 lb. load on a single post using either metal hardware or only commodity fasteners.  Through much debate and mutual compromise, the Deck Code Coalition was still unable to provide unified testimony in support of this proposal.  The membership did not approve it.

Modifications to these proposals can no longer be made in this cycle, as all that is left is the final online vote by the governmental members. 

By the end of this year, the 2021 IRC will be decided.

To help NADRA continue our work in the code arena, please consider contributing to our code fundraising initiative. Click here to learn more and to support our efforts.

NADRA Code Update: Should Decks be Built Like Stairs?

October 2019 Update

By: Glenn Mathewson

Some believe they should.  Stair treads must resist the same uniform load as decking, but with an added requirement to resist a 300 lb. concentrated load at mid span.  Consider the impact your feet place on treads as you come running down them. This extra requirement is not without consequences, as spans allowed for composite decking are often reduced when used for stair treads.  Many products require minimum 12- or 10-inch stringer spacing. This could be the future for joist spacing. Do I have your attention?

Though NADRA has been involved in the International Residential Code modification process, there are many other organizations and processes that affect the codes and standards of the decking and railing industry.  The American Society of Civil Engineers is one such organization. They develop the ASCE 7 standard, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, which establishes the minimum design loads historically copied into the International Code Council’s (ICC) building and residential codes.  

In the ICC hearings, NADRA has supported a proposal to adjust the loading direction required of guards that was submitted to the International Residential Code (IRC) development process this year.  At the ICC hearings, the committee did not approve the change and requested it first be made in the ASCE 7 standard. We will contest this at the IRC final hearings this week, but we also turned our attention to the ASCE standard development process.  Last week, by luck, the ASCE committee was meeting in Denver, and with a short drive and NADRA support, I was able to attend.

Though I was going there for the guard proposal, another one came up, and my concerns for guards were quickly replaced with decking.  A proposal was received to require all deck boards to resist a 300 lb. concentrated load at mid span, just as is required for stair treads.  The committee discussed the reasoning, that ladders can place a concentrated load on a single deck board upwards of this magnitude. Prior to closing their discussion, they invited comment from guests. .

I shared concerns of proposals that place additional loads on decks different than inside a house, where ladders could similarly be used.  I explained how composite decking spans are reduced when used on stairs and subjected to a 300 lb. design load. I asked if they had the data on how wood and manufactured decking product maximum spans would be affected by the proposal.

It appeared this analysis was not included with the proposal, but the committee was interested.  They turned the question back to me—to NADRA… Now the ball is in our court to answer. How will this affect our industry?  Will current composite decking formulations on the market require a reduction of joist spacing to support this load? Will manufacturers “simply” change formulations and retest in order to maintain current spans?  Will joist spacing for wood decking require reduction?

We are working on some of these answers, but you should be too.

Because this could become the new rule.