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

Regal ideas Inc. Donates Microwaves to Help Support The Atira Women’s Resource Society.

(Delta, BC) – Regal ideas Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of Aluminum railing systems has sourced and donated 100 microwaves to the Atira Women’s Resource Society in Vancouver, BC. 

Atira Women’s Resource Society is dedicated to supporting women and children affected by violence by offering safe and supportive housing by delivering education and advocacy aimed at ending all forms of gendered violence. 

“I wish everyone could have seen the relief and peace on women’s faces when we delivered new microwaves that will enable them to heat food in their rooms and gives them the choice to stay home and self-isolate, a choice most of us take for granted.” says Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society. “Thank you Regal Ideas for giving us and the women we support 100 bright moments.” 

On hand for the deliveries was 9-year old Feed The Fight ambassador, Mason Sekura. Watch Mason’s video tribute here: https://youtu.be/oft9nJQfJKg 

Regal ideas announce the official launch of Feed The Fight Canada and Feed The Fight USA, an initiative to provide meals, personal protective equipment and other necessities to front-line workers and those impacted by COVID-19. The innovative campaign also supports local restaurants and businesses who are feeling the crunch during this difficult time by sourcing meals and products. 

Donations to the campaign can be made by visiting feedthefightcanada.com or feedthefightUSA.com, which are managed on the GoFundMe® platform. The long-term goal is to sustain this initiative past the pandemic. “It is an honor for us to be able to help communities on both sides of the border. Everyone has the right to be safe and live a healthy life.” says Andrew Pantelides, Vice President of Marketing for Regal ideas Inc. “We can all help, a little goes a long way in bettering the lives of many. Special thank you to Danby Appliances and Conwest for their recent contributions”. 

Regal ideas hopes their efforts will encourage others to follow and help people and businesses in their communities in need. 

Plans are already in motion for campaigns starting next week at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle Washington and Grand River Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario. Inquiries for the Feed The Fight campaigns should be sent to support@feedthefightcanada.com 

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For more information contact: 
Andrew Pantelides
Vice President of Marketing & Business Development
Regal ideas Inc.
Tel: 905-929-7155
Andrew@regalideas.com

The AZEK® Company Shifts Resources to Help Fight COVID-19

Chicago, Ill., Apr. 28, 2020 – Over the past month, we’ve seen businesses, brands, and individuals alike step up and give back to communities affected by COVID-19. These acts of kindness, both big and small, have offered a glimmer of hope in an otherwise frightening and stressful time. 

The AZEK Company, makers of TimberTech decking and other sustainable building products, has shifted resources at its Vycom facility in Scranton, PA to produce antibacterial partition materials to be used in treatment centers providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past month, AZEK provided roughly 5,000 hygienic plastic sheets to the State of New York to be used in the partitions at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, which has been transformed into a 2,000-bed temporary hospital. 

Using these products, The AZEK Company has also designed temporary buildings, beds and other structures for medical use at the following facilities: 

• SUNY Old Westbury (Old Westbury, NY) 

• SUNY Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY) 

• DeVos Place Convention Center (Grand Rapids, MI) 

Once the need for field hospitals dissipates, The AZEK Company will also be a resource to these sites by recycling the materials into other sustainable products. In the meantime, The AZEK Company is currently in touch with several state governments and stands ready to design and produce materials for additional emergency hospital conversions. 

About The AZEK® Company 

CPG Newco LLC (d/b/a The AZEK® Company) is an industry-leading manufacturer of beautiful, low-maintenance residential and commercial building products, committed to innovation, sustainability and research and design. 

Press Contact: 
Christine Carter
Backbone Media
christine.carter@backbonemedia.net
(970) 963-4873 ext. 203 

National Nail Launches Versatile CAMO® LEVER™ Tool for Fast, Easy Deck Board Bending

Grand Rapids, MI– At CAMO, we know that you don’t have time to wrestle with deck boards –time is precious during installation and crews are getting smaller. Not to mention the strain on the body and potential board damage. As part of the CAMO experience that delivers ease, efficiency and profitability, CAMO® LEVER™ is the only tool needed to bend, straighten or align deck boards to speed up installation. In fact, contractors can build decks up to 5X times faster when they use LEVER with other CAMO innovations like the versatile DRIVE™ stand-up tool for any decking and CAMO EDGE Clip for grooved boards. In these difficult times, the CAMO team knows that COVID-19 is a challenge for deck builders as they try to protect their families and livelihoods. That is why we’re forging ahead with the latest innovation.

Contractors can build decks up to 5X times faster when they use new LEVER with other CAMO innovations like the versatile DRIVE™ stand-up tool for any decking and CAMO EDGE Clips for grooved boards.

LEVER is all about freedom during installation. Without time-consuming set-up, the unique LEVER tool sets in one turn to lock boards in place for fastening with no strain, no hassle. When combined with CAMO EDGE Clips, LEVER speeds up grooved decking installations by locking multiple rows of boards and clips in place for quick fastening. The compact LEVER is also strong enough to straighten any warped board. Smaller crews are not a problem—LEVER eliminates the need to have someone holding boards, or a tool, in place. Lay your boards down, lock them in place with LEVER and you are free to fasten. And the timing of the LEVER launch aligns with the need for one- or two-person installation that allows social distancing on the jobsite to protect worker safety. 

“We are unwavering in our mission to help contractors build a better deck easier and in a faster timeframe–even with smaller crews,” said W. Scott Baker, CEO.  “CAMO LEVER is the latest addition to the family of innovative CAMO products that gives contractors an unparalleled deck-building experience.  We’re dedicated to helping our contractors stay on the job as well as emerge strong from the pandemic.”

The versatile LEVER tool adjusts to single, double and even steel joists and keeps spacing between boards consistent, which, for the discerning deck builder, adds to the beauty of a fastener-free surface. For the best installation experience, lock in a whole field of boards using 2–3 LEVERS across the length of the deck. 

With an MSRP of $99.95, CAMO LEVER is an affordable, easy-to-use innovation that allows contractors to work smarter, with less labor, and helps them build a better deck.

To learn more about the CAMO LEVER, visit camofasteners.com

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.

TREX BRAND STRENGTH REINFORCED BY TWO HIGH-PROFILE INDUSTRY REPORTS

Decking Leader Sweeps Builder Brand Use Study and Tops Green Builder Media Brand Index

The composite decking category has never been more competitive, but there’s no question as to which brand industry professionals prefer most. Trex, the leading manufacturer of high-performance, wood-alternative decking and railing, surpassed all others in recent studies conducted by two of the industry’s leading media outlets.

For the third time, Trex swept Builder magazine’s annual Brand Use Study, outranking all other brands across every aspect measured in the composite/PVC category. Additionally, in an unprecedented 10-year streak, Trex has been named the “greenest” decking in the latest Green Builder Media Readers’ Choice Awards. The brand also received the best Brand Index score for the decking category – a new addition to the Green Builder program for 2020.

“All of this wonderful recognition is especially meaningful because it reflects the opinions and preferences of trade professionals and industry insiders who not only use our products but who influence the decisions of others,” said Leslie Adkins, vice president of marketing for Trex. “For more than 25 years, we have built a strong reputation with the trade community by continually delivering on our brand promise of performance, innovation and aesthetics. We have worked hard to maintain that legacy and are extremely proud to be considered the brand of choice in this category that Trex invented.”

Trex Sweeps Builder Magazine Brand Use Study

Each year, the Builder Brand Use Study gauges the attitudes and preferences of U.S. builders, developers and contractors as they relate to products they recognize, use and trust most. More than 1,000 respondents participated in the latest survey. For the 13th consecutive year, Trex was ranked No. 1 by trade professionals for “brand familiarity,” “brand used in the past two years” and “brand used most.” The brand also earned the highest rating for “overall quality” in the latest study, marking the third time Trex has swept the entire composite/PVC category.

Among the factors influencing brand selection were product performance, warranty, product availability, ease of installation, product price, reputation, manufacturer/dealer relationships and product sustainability. According to the results of the 2020 study, Trex was cited by 88% of respondents as the brand with which they are most familiar. More than two-thirds (69%) indicated that they have used Trex decking over the past two years and nearly half (47%) cited Trex as the brand they specify and use most. In fact, Trex received more than twice the votes of its nearest competitor as the decking brand used most by trade professionals. 

The results of the 2020 Builder Brand Use Study are highlighted in the April 2020 issue of Builder magazine and posted to the magazine’s website at builderonline.com.

Trex Tops Green Builder Media Brand Index and Named “Greenest Decking”

For the 10th consecutive year, Trex has been named the “greenest” decking in one of the industry’s most respected surveys – the Green Builder Media Readers’ Choice Awards. Trex is the only composite decking manufacturer to hold this title since the program began in 2009, underscoring the brand’s leadership and strong preference among eco-conscious architects, builders and contractors.

Additionally, Trex received the best score in the decking category in the new Green Builder Media Brand Index. Designed to evaluate brand position in the marketplace, the Brand Index integrates purchase preferences, brand sentiment and reader data merging macro market trends from COGNITION Smart Data with micro user-specific results from the long-running Readers’ Choice survey. Based on these combined factors, the award recognizes the most sustainable, innovative, highest performance brands across a wide spectrum of building product categories. 

“The readers of Green Builder are progressive early adopters and influencers in their communities,” noted Adkins. “This recognition reinforces that our products and our company’s core values continue to resonate with those who understand the importance of environmentally conscious building.”

Built on green values, Trex offers eco-friendly decking and outdoor living products that endure – without leaving a lasting impact on the environment. The entire high-performance Trex decking portfolio – including Trex Transcend®, Trex Select® and Trex Enhance® – is manufactured from 95% recycled materials, making Trex a smart choice for environmentally conscious builders and homeowners. For more than 25 years, Trex decking has been made from a combination of reclaimed wood and polyethylene plastic film (recycled from industrial packaging as well as common household items such as grocery bags, newspaper sleeves and bubble wrap). In fact, Trex is one of the largest recyclers of plastic film in North America, repurposing more than 1.5 billion plastic bags each year in the making of its products.  

Last year, this commitment to sustainability earned Trex recognition as an Eco Leader – the highest honor awarded by Green Builder Media, North America’s leading media group focused on green building and responsible growth. 

The Green Builder Media Brand Index top brands and 2020 Readers’ Choice selections are showcased in the March/April issue of Green Builder magazine and online at GreenBuilderMedia.com

For more information about Trex’s high-performance, eco-friendly products, visit trex.com.  

# # #

About Trex Company

Trex Company is the world’s largest manufacturer of high performance wood-alternative decking and railing, with more than 25 years of product experience. Stocked in more than 6,700 retail locations worldwide, Trex outdoor living products offer a wide range of style options with fewer ongoing maintenance requirements than wood, as well as an environmentally responsible choice. For more information, visit trex.com. You also can follow Trex on Twitter (@Trex_Company), Instagram (@trexcompany) Pinterest (trexcompany), or Houzz (trex-company-inc), “like” Trex on Facebook, or view product and demonstration videos on the brand’s YouTube channel (TheTrexCo).

Contact: 
Tyler Lyon or Sara TatayL.C. Williams & Associates 
800/837-7123 or 312/565-3900
tlyon@lcwa.com or statay@lcwa.com 

The Overuse of the words: “uncertain times”

By: Heather A. Marchand

I use gmail. If I click on my “promotions” tab, I can guarantee that 8 out of 10 promotional emails use the word “uncertain”. In fact, just for fun, I searched my email for “uncertain”. How many times do you think I found the word? 

TWO HUNDRED emails used the word “uncertain” since March 2020. TWO HUNDRED!

I get it… uncertain = I am freaking out and need to find a way to leverage this disaster to sell you something you didn’t know you needed.

I admittedly made this mistake two weeks ago. I used it in a NADRA email. In my defense, we gave away something quite substantial for free. So I think I earned a free pass here. But in all seriousness, I’m not using the phrase again & you should try to avoid it too. Consumers are over it. 

Here are a few words / phrases you could use instead: 

  • Unknown
  • Weird
  • Undetermined
  • Unsure
  • Crummy
  • My personal favorite: Dubious!
  • During these unprecedented times
  • This sucks

It’s simple. When you are making sales calls and answering inquiries regarding leads… just be real.

As an association we are struggling due to most payables being put on hold. We know you are going through it too. 

Don’t be cheesy. Don’t be sales-pitchy. In a world without human touch, or handshakes, no hugs, no embrace… The best thing you can do right now is to just be real. 

We know we need to find the positives here & as an industry we have quite a bit to leverage during this crisis. The industry knows there is an opportunity here to promote “staycations”. Please do yourself a favor, give it some time and don’t be too aggressive. Families are hurting right now, and the last thing you want to do is have them unsubscribe from your emails or unfollow your business on social media.

Business must go on & there are ways to self-promote in a classy way. Make some calls. Check in on your past clients & prospects that didn’t close. Just be sure to be human. Be sensitive to the fact that folks are unemployed, kids are home from school, parents are losing their minds & some may have loved ones who are ill. Take your time to construct well thought-out, sensitive content for your emails, phone calls and social media campaigns. Sharing content that demonstrates how your company is giving back and supporting your local community is a great way to self-promote. 

We will continue this discussion in the next brief by providing a couple instagram graphics and social media text for your use. 

Have a good week, and please remember, just keep it real. 

Wishing you plenty of sunshine, 
Heather

NADRA Rocks!

Heather A. Marchand
Director of National Programs & Marketing
Direct: 215.317.2018
www.NADRA.org 

Regal ideas Inc. donates medical supplies to St. Paul’s Hospital frontline staff.

Aluminum Railing Leader is on a mission to help the Nurses and Doctors in the community.

(Delta, BC) – Regal ideas Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of Aluminum railing systems has sourced and is donating masks to frontline healthcare workers at Vancouver’s St Paul’s Hospital.

This is one shipment of many that has been hand delivered to the hospital. Regal ideas reach will expand to other hospitals and provinces in response
to the growing need for masks and other personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare professionals combating COVID-19.

“We are awed and inspired by the selfless acts of courage and heroism by God’s earthly Angels as they put their lives on the line every day for all of Humanity… it compels us to act!”, states Ernie Couillard, Executive Vice President for Regal ideas Inc.

The first 200 KN95 masks were hand delivered by 9-year old Regal ideas ambassador, Mason Sekura, to St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Watch Mason’s video tribute to the frontline medical teams here:

Regal ideas hope is that others take a moment and support in any way they can to help protect as many local medical teams as possible during this rapidly evolving pandemic. Regal ideas started its sourcing for personal protective equipment weeks ago and is on a mission to connect with
companies and other business owners to take part in this mission. “We all have our connections, so if we all do our part, we can build a better tomorrow, today” comments Mr Couillard.

For more information contact:
Andrew Pantelides
Vice President of Marketing & Business Development
Regal ideas Inc.
Tel: 905-929-7155
Andrew@regalideas.com

A Simple Recipe for Contractors Part Three:

Leveraging Your Photos, By: Bobby Parks

Photos are your visual resume that illustrates your capabilities as a builder and shows your style and creativity through a recorded image history. You’re often being accepted or rejected before you even know you’re being checked out when your website is visited as potential customers are making judgements about you based on the photos they see. The old saying that a photo is worth a thousand words is true as images provide a stronger communication than any words can ever accomplish. Confidence in your ability to deliver the kind of project they want or whether your style is right for a particular prospect is at play. Photos can provide a major layer of credibility and are one of the most impactful sales tools at your disposal making them a key ingredient in the recipe.

Although most contractors use photos,  many don’t incorporate the measures that it takes to fully capitalize on them. Many use unedited photos on cell phones in a disorganized and limited way. Some don’t focus on getting good initial shots or don’t take any at all. Just think about the time and effort you put into marketing, selling, designing, planning, permitting, mobilizing, and physically delivering projects. Why would you not take time to circle back and take pictures of the impressive projects you build and leverage them? Why not take a few simple steps and invest in the appropriate tools to maximize the impact multiple uses can provide? 

In the first two segments of this series (Part 1 & Part 2) I discuss my thoughts on the importance of a contractor’s building philosophy, project delivery types, messaging, referrals, website, and social media. In this third segment I’ll share my thoughts on the importance of leveraging your photos.  

Taking the Photos

You don’t need to use a professional to get good shots. Most will use a phone or iPad which simplifies the process. I still like using a camera and I take shots with the settings on “Auto” and the inner menu set on “RAW”. This allows for easy editing later. Just use common sense. Little things like a ladder leaning against the wall, an extension cord laying on the deck, footprints, or even leaves on the deck become magnified clutter when viewing the photo. Get clean shots and take plenty of them. Drone shots are great as you can pick up the overview angles that truly show the design.

How You Display? Pictures Matters

It’s not only important to take and use photos, it’s also important how you display them to potential customers. Many contractors use photos during a sales call but some don’t utilize them to the extent they should. For example: Showing unedited photos on a cell phone is not the way to do it. Flipping around trying to flash photos on a small screen in front of a customer is not likely to impress them. The images are small and don’t make the impressions that an iPad or larger views are going to provide. Larger views illustrate a clearer vision of what you’re about and shows off quality work much better. In my opinion an iPad may be the most crucial tool investment you make. You buy tools when they’re needed for a job. An iPad is no different and it’s a tool that quickly pays for itself. 

Another great way to show job photos is on a large monitor or television screen. This can be done if you have an office where prospects can come to you and you extend your pc screen. You can even do this at a customer’s home by plugging into their tv. Laptops can be used but iPads are lighter and quicker.

Be Organized:  Create Photo Categories

Be organized and create categories on an iPad such as decks, patios, arbors, porches, pavilions, and before & afters. If you’re delivering hardscape jobs, show patios, outdoor kitchens and fire pits. Remodelers and landscapers can show their categorized projects. If you’re discussing a particular type of project this allows you to show specific job types without bouncing around, it saves time and makes you appear more organized. It assists with a customer’s understanding of what you can do therefore helping create comfort levels and confidence in you as a contractor. 

My approach was to take a group of shots and create a customer photo file. For example, I created a “Customer John Smith Job”  which I loaded the original site photos taken on the first sales call. Once the job was completed I loaded the “after shots” in and followed up with a second file titled “Customer John Smith Selects”.  I copied the select shots that I intended to use from the original file to the select files. These were edited and used in the photo files I showed customers. This boils down what you’re showing and helps with appearing organized and being efficient when displaying what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing.  It’s creating credibility every time you show a photo. Comfort levels grow when a customer’s confidence in you begins. 

Learn Simple Editing Almost all photos need editing to pop and provide the most impact.  Even a great looking project won’t make the best impressions if it’s a dull shot. Although you could spend time learning editing software, it’s not necessary as all you’ll need can be done in 30 seconds on your phone or iPad with factory installed editing tools. I prefer a free app called Photoshop Express. In some cases as few as two edits on an iPad will do the job. For example; On an iPad or iPhone just click on the “wand” and do a color enhance increase and you’re set. In other cases you may need to lighten the shadows. These simple edits alone can make a huge difference with a photo. (See photos below) You can do other edits like merging grass into the scene and remove items if you’re willing to watch tutorials and learn. Use common sense and don’t forget to remove clutter before taking the shots.  Remember, when using a camera use the “Auto” setting with the inner menu on “RAW. These settings will allow you to do four auto edits and two manual using Photoshop Elements on your PC; you will have great results.  

Before & After minor photo edits

Color enhanced and paint-can clutter removed

Photo Galleries on Website

Having good gallery photos on a website is like using artillery to soften up the beachhead before you launch a frontal assault. Galleries soften up resistance and open the door with upfront credibility. It sets the table for the process that follows. These visuals increase the chance for success, making progress easier to obtain. Again, these should be organized into specific categories. You can even have “featured projects” where you have multiple photos of a specific job that provide a virtual tour.

Picture Videos

Picture videos are a great way to show featured projects. There are many options for easy to use software that allows you to create these one to two minute videos with added music that customers can view. For example I created a 12 minute “Before & After” video that I had the customer watch while I was gathering site information on my first appointment. It kept them in the process while I was outside for the 10 minutes it took to get site information. I did short picture videos to provide a tour of featured projects. These can be posted on your website, YouTube, social media, and emailed to prospects.

Before & After Photos

Before and after shots may be the most effective photos you’ll use. They show your ability to be creative and make an existing situation better. They show how dramatic a change can be and allows a prospect to realize how much difference the right investment can make. 

Photos show before and after and how
dramatic a change can be.

 Photos shows before and after and how dramatic a change can be

Send Before & Afters and Gallery Photos to Customers After Job Completions

Sometimes we start late, the job takes longer than expected, or there’s a problem during the job delivery that we have to recover from. Even if a job starts and finishes on time some customers handle the intrusion aspects differently and may be stressed over the process.  Emailing a visual reminder using before and after photos along with the equivalent of featured project gallery photos to a customer is like medicine that helps the pain go away. It is a dramatic reminder of the positive changes that you’ve delivered, and lessens the effect of most issues that occurred.  Ideally your logo should be on each photo. When photos are shared with customers, work associates, family and friends, through social media, it is clear who is responsible for the work. 

Brochures

Brochures are still a useful tool that photos factor into. These can be left behind after a sales call,  emailed, or accessed through a web link on your website. It’s especially useful when you’re meeting with only one of the decision makers and you don’t want to be confused with others the prospect is meeting with. It’s a simple piece that can be shared with anyone else involved in the decision and helps keep you from being mixed up with anyone else they are getting proposals from. 

Photos show a brochure from my former company

Leveraging Your Photos May Allow You to Charge More

Photos should be utilized on websites, during  sales and consulting sessions, marketing pieces,  brochures, and in follow up communications with customers. They not only open the door to new and often unknown prospects, but assist with sales and business stability and even allow many an opportunity for increased profit. For example; If you are currently having success selling jobs by showing unedited photos on a phone and begin to organize edited versions on an iPad, you can likely start charging 5% more right away because the impressions and confidence this generates can make a huge difference in a customers perception. Your iPad investment will be covered by the increased sales price. 

Adding 5% -10% and selling a job that previously priced out $20,000 project for $21,000 to $22,000 is not a big stretch when a contractor stacks the right layers of credibility in their favor. There is the risk factor for a customer anytime they choose a contractor. If you are perceived with confidence and create strong impressions along with a perceived low or no risk factor because of the credibility you’ve displayed through photos and other means, most you will be able to charge more. 

Operating in Difficult Times

In this series I discuss several key recipe ingredients that work together to create the layers of credibility to provide major benefits for any contractor. All are important. My original decisions on my project delivery types and the way I leveraged off of photos were two of the main aspects that allowed me to accomplish what I did during my years as a contractor. These approaches still apply today. Even during the recession from 2007-2009 I was able to operate and survive a prolonged and challenging period because of the recipe I used. The simple formula provided a solid foundation and ability to survive tough times when others didn’t. We are currently experiencing trying and uncertain times due to the Coronavirus. We will eventually get past this period but some changes will occur. Some things will never be the same because we’ve seen first hand how a contagion can impact an economy. Because it’s happened we can’t help but wonder when will it happen again? I hope and believe this next recovery will be  quicker because the previous underlying fundamentals of the economy are different compared to 2007 and outside this COVID -19 most want to resume where we left off. But the recovery will take a while for some segments and we will likely make changes in the ways we operate. Operating from a simple solid foundation founded by simple recipes as I share, provide a way to maximize profit during a good market, and puts you in a position to survive downturns in a healthier way when they do occur. I hope that there’s something in this series that you’ll find useful and that we’ll all get back on track with our personal and work lives soon. 

Bobby Parks / Instagram: @Bobbyparks007

Copyright Bobby Parks – April 8th, 2020

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.

Why Nichigo G-Tape on Decks?

As originally published on Nichigo G-Tape’s website HERE

Water finds a way. 

In the construction industry, it is always important to keep that in mind. Water ALWAYS finds a way. This is especially true when it comes to deck building. 

All things being equal, wood rot is one of the first places a deck begins to fail. Being exposed to the elements 365 days a year means there are many opportunities for water to find its way into a board and accelerate the degradation.

There are two weak spots in deck lumber: horizontal surfaces and fastener punctures. With the growing composite deck board market, those boards act like a seal trapping water between the composite boards and the wooden joist boards underneath. Punctures drive through treatments exposing the fresh, raw wood underneath.

The weakness is then multiplied on horizontal surfaces WITH fastener punctures. We designed 3040BK to protect decks from this very issue. 

To demonstrate just how much protection 3040BK offers, we turned to our R/D lab to run accelerated tests. We drove nails through our 3040BK, sealed off the top, poured dyed water in, and placed collection cups underneath to see what would soak through.

Next, our team ran two tests, high temp and high UV exposure. Both tests ran for the equivalent of 20 years outdoor exposure. 

Turns out our collection cups weren’t necessary, as neither test had any failures. All 10 nails in each test were perfectly dry and 3040BK was still holding strong.

Use 3040BK to make water find a different way.

Download the full Technical Report HERE