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

Leave a Reply