ICC’s Backyard Safety

May 15, 2012 | There’s a lot of information out there on the web about backyard safety, from those aimed at providing “parenting advice” to medical websites aimed at keeping bandages on the shelf.  Another such source is the International Code Council (ICC), the publisher of our nations leading model construction codes. In the big scheme of things, decks are a small part of our built environment.  With ICC providing codes and standards for large commercial complexes, like hotels and retail centers, it’s nice when our industry of backyard decks gets some attention…and not just in new code provisions.  For Building Safety Month, May of every year, ICC is focusing attention on decks and outdoor living…a good sign that our industry is vibrant, growing and important to our culture.

The article behind this link provides a nice call to owners and property managers that decks don’t last forever, or may have been built substandard to begin with.  Too many of our fellow Americans don’t realize the need to regularly maintain and inspect their decks…and that means more than a swipe of a staining rag.  They often dismiss the very real hazards that backyard decks, grills and pools inadvertently create for us.  Public services messages like this, from non-profit organizations, are there for our benefit and our neighbor’s benefit.  Take a read, get ideas, get inspired and share this message.  Just forward the link.

http://www.iccsafe.org/safety/Pages/Backyard.aspx

 

Thanks To The Membership

May 8, 2012 | The NADRA Education Event in Pennsylvania earlier this month was a joy to lead.  Teaching codes and deck construction is always a good time for me, regardless of my audience. However, hanging out with our members this month is even better.

I want to personally thank all the builder members that attended. I thoroughly enjoyed your taking part in the education and making it your own. The questions, comments and ideas, the networking and camaraderie at lunch and after class, and the humor and lightheartedness of the two days with my association were great. I was excited to meet new members, as well as visit with those I have meet before. Without builder members like you, there would be no NADRA. However without manufacturer members, there would be no NADRA Education.

Putting together a live education event is no easy undertaking, so I’ve also got to thank Legacy Services for their dedication to managing NADRA and coordinating the event. The following NADRA member companies deserve your thanks and recognition for their support of the event. Without their sponsorship, the cost of classes would be…well…cost prohibitive. Next time you see these member company’s representatives, thank them for their support. It’s going to take all professionals of the decking industry working together and doing their part to make this association continue to be a success. Thank your fellow builders for attending the education and encourage other’s to attend the next one. Pay attention to those that help support the efforts of NADRA and give them your support when you can.

“Thank You” to the following sponsors of the PA education event:
Fiberon
TimberTech
Fortress
Wolmanized Outdoor Wood
NyloDeck
Techno Metal Post

-Glenn Mathewson

What’s Your Story?

April 24, 2012 | No happy thoughts for me this week about harmony in the codes for all.  I want the worst of it, your worst story about codes, inspectors, permits and the like.  Come on, take me down; knock me out.  You know I used to be an inspector…now I just review your plans and decide how long it takes you to get a permit, he, he, he.*  Give me your rant!

*[Cynical, diabolical laugh]

All kidding aside, I want to hear about how things are going for you with codes and their enforcement in your area, and not just the bad stuff.  I’d like to hear your good experiences too and if you’re working well with your building department.  Give me your pulse of how the building code industry is affecting your business.  Help me understand where it is I can help NADRA…and help you.

“I had an inspector require me to pull a nail out of a hanger to verify if it was the correct nail.  Nope…it was a short hanger nail used in a double joist hanger.  The manufacturer called for 3-inch nails.  The inspector was correct, but in the big scheme of things, the load limits for the hanger’s correct installation was ten fold what I used it for.  It was a double joist used as a nailer for a change in decking direction.  It wasn’t going anywhere as it stood, but alas, it had the wrong nails, and it cost me the inspection that day.  Always kept the hardware catalog and instructions with me after that.”

-Glenn

What does it mean to me to be an advisor to NADRA?

April 23, 2012 | It means I am here to help.  I am here to share insight into a different industry, the building code industry.  The code industry is going through some growing pains.  The electric code, energy and green codes, and fire sprinkler mandate, for example, have created some worry amongst professionals.  The IRC for residential keeps growing larger, while the IBC for commercial is referring more to other costly standards…

But I’m already boring you…  Decks are your business, not codes.

I would agree it’s not your worry, if we were back in 2006, or if you’re working under the 06 IRC.  That was before decks and codes really collided.  The code industry is way ahead of you though and decks are plenty included.  In nine month…NINE MONTHS…the deadlines for the 2015 IRC are due…alas…here I go again on a code rant…

It means I am here to stay ahead of the codes for you, or at least in front.  It means I can be your representative in the code industry.  I can listen to your current experiences and concerns about the industry.  It also means I can help connect the membership in an informed and sensible compromise of ideals such that the industry can flourish together…ahhh…

To do this we need to connect.  Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter, find my messages in the weekly newsletter, visit the blog page, or send me an email.  Help me work on your behalf and not my guess of it.  I can’t advise or represent the association in the code industry if I’m not connected to the membership.

Hey! I only said “code” eleven times.  Not bad.

-Glenn

 

Lateral Load Language Lesson: 2012 IRC

April 23, 2012 | A subtle change in the 2012 IRC makes the application of the lateral load anchor connection figure more understandable.  Under the 2009 IRC, Section R502.2.2.3 confused some readers by its statement that the lateral load figure, “shall be permitted”, only to later state that “devices shall be installed in not less than two locations”.  The first statement is clear that the connection is merely allowed by code, but not permitted.  However the latter seems to require the use of two or more.

In the 2012 IRC the original intent of the language was clarified, with clear direction. It is only when the connection detail is voluntarily chosen that there must be at least two devices installed.  It is merely a design option.

Overall, this is a good win for the industry.  Success is had when the language of the code can be made clearer.  The more consistently the code is interpreted, the more of a “standard” it can be.

-Glenn

Keeping Your Deck in Check

March 12, 2012 | Decks are a great “value add” for residents, but property managers face plenty of risks—including having a deck collapse—if their deck isn’t regularly inspected and maintained. It’s happening more frequently than many property managers and homeowners realize. Between 2003 and 2007, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 224,740 injuries caused by outdoor decks and porches. “What’s happening across this country is an epidemic at this point,” says Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), adding that “in most cases if a deck fails, it’s a matter of neglect.”

The Ledger Connection

Common deck failures include a stair collapsing or a railing giving way. Of all the parts of a deck, “the most notoriously overlooked has been the ledger connection,” says Glenn Mathewson, a former deck builder and technical advisor to NADRA and International Code Council-certified Master Code Professional. The ledger connection is the board that connects the deck to a home or property, which can rot away, causing the deck to completely collapse. But, adds Mathewson, “poor construction and a lack of standards for construction is a large contributor to the problem.”

Not maintaining and regularly inspecting the deck, especially the ledger, puts your deck at risk for a collapse—and puts your occupants at risk for injury. “The lack of maintenance and the lack of knowledge of poor condition of the materials would be a due-diligence risk,” Mathewson says. “It would be like allowing the paint to peel off a house, but with much more drastic results.”

Continue reading “Keeping Your Deck in Check”

Ask NADRA: Tilting Support Posts

February 3, 2012 |

My deck is supported by wood posts that rest on concrete piles set into the ground. The concrete piles seem to be moving causing a tilt to the wooden post (inward, toward the house). Do you have a guideline on how much post tilt is acceptable?

Glenn Mathewson, NADRA’s Technical Advisor, responds:

I can understand your concern and I’m glad you contacted NADRA for assistance. From what you have described, it does not reflect an appropriate foundation system. All foundations, including those for decks, must be placed a minimum of 12 inches below undisturbed soil. That refers to soil that has not been backfilled, rototilled, installed with sod, or any other disturbance. In a common yard the pier would be at least 18” below the top of the final grade. This depth provides lateral resistance to overturning… what your piers are likely doing. I presume insufficient depth of the piers is the source of this problem.

As for the posts, I can’t really recommend any acceptable tilt other than the tolerances in the bubble on a 4-foot level. I would presume that if the posts moved from vertical to tilted, then they’re likely to keep moving. That is a more significant issue than just a little angle on the post.

For the sake of discussion, a deck “could” be designed with a tremendous angle in the posts. For the sake of your deck, I would look at shoring it up and replacing the piers. If your posts are in good shape, you could even pour your piers a few inches higher than before; level the deck out nicely and then cut the posts back in at just the right height.

If your feeling up to it, grab a buddy or two, a weekend or two, and the right tools for the job, otherwise, take a look at our member directory and find a NADRA builder nearby. Either way… we wish you the best for you and your deck.

Thank you for contacting NADRA.

Glenn Mathewson
NADRA Technical Advisor

Ask NADRA: Deck Ventilation Requirements

April 30, 2011 | Ken from Orangeburg, SC asks:

“I am wondering is there a minimum height requirement for a
deck to allow for adequate ventilation under the deck. Is this
measured to the top or bottom of the decking timber?”

Glenn Mathewson, NADRA’s Technical Advisor, responds:

Hello Mr. Panitt.

Thank you for turning to NADRA with your questions about the Decking and Railing Industry. We are certainly happy to provide you guidance. The International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) do not specifically regulate the ventilation of areas underneath exterior decks. IRC Section R408.1 describes the ventilation requirements for under floor spaces, including the minimum net free area, but it is in reference to areas under buildings that are enclosed by foundation walls. While it would certainly be good practice to maintain moisture control under decks that are very low to the ground, its not part of the minimum standard set forth by the IRC. However, in the case of manufactured decking or other products, the installation requirements of the manufacturer are essentially part of the code. This may be from a direct reference to, such as section R317.4.1 in the 09 IRC for wood/plastic composites or through approval as an “alternative”.
I know at least two prominent tongue-and-groove composite decking products that require a minimum height above grade to make up for the lack of air flow between the boards. In both cases the distance was 12 inches of vertical space beneath the bottom of the framing, though the percentage of perimeter where it was required varied. You must always adhere to manufacturer’s installation instructions, not only for good practice, but also for code compliance.
For spaced deck boards, the gaps would likely suffice for ventilation. They may be narrow, but they’re evenly dispersed. One thing to consider, however, is the size of the gaps and the material used. If swelling of wood, expansion of thermoplastics, proximity to heavy autumn leaf fall, long snow coverage or poor maintenance/cleaning is likely, the gaps may close. In that case, additional ventilation openings or greater clearance to grade would be a good plan.

I hope this information is of assistance to you and the visitors of the NADRA blog.

Sincerely,

Glenn Mathewson, MCP

NADRA Launches First-Ever Industry Event!

Quakertown, PA – March 30, 2011 | Understanding the Existing Structure was launched on March 24th, 2011 at The Biltmore in Providence, Rhode Island. This course is one of a four-part series designed to help contractors prepare for their NADRA MDB* Certification exams. (Master Deck Builder)

Over 75 Industry professionals gathered the evening before the big day of education for a networking dinner on the 17th floor of the historic Biltmore hotel. About 40 of those attendees were from NADRA’s very own New England Chapter. Fred Aldrich, NE Chapter President states “It is truly an exciting time in our industry and the NADRA events in Providence are a great example of that excitement.”

With sponsors like Fiberon & TimberTech who are willing to support the Association on these ground level programs, NADRA has been able to bring first-ever events to the industry, such as the annual meeting and cocktail reception, industry deck awards, and now the first-ever industry Certification for Deck Builders along with the new Factory Trained programs that others are sure to follow! Tony Groh, Northeast Regional Sales Manager, TimberTech states, “I was very impressed with the NADRA event in Providence. The quality of the NADRA member contractors is very evident. It is refreshing to participate in presentations where the audience is so engaged and the questions so insightful. It was obvious that those present are on a continuous quest to improve their craft. We look forward to the next NADRA event.”
Continue reading “NADRA Launches First-Ever Industry Event!”

Ask NADRA: Deck Stair Lighting Codes

March 21, 2011 | Lainie Sleppin of Mid-State Lumber asks:

“I am getting a number of calls regarding the code on deck stair
lighting, no pun but can you shed any light on this code so I can
advise correctly. We are talking about guys in the NJ market.

Thanks for your help and have a great weekend.”

Glenn Mathewson, NADRA’s Technical Advisor, responds:

Hello Lainie,

Thanks for your confidence in NADRA, the voice of the decking industry, to be your “go to” when you need quality information on the decking and railing industry. I understand your contractor customers in the New York and New Jersey area have been asking questions lately about lighting at deck stairways. I am happy to provide you assistance in better understanding the requirements of the 2009 IRC in this regard. Many people I discuss this with are surprised that when you read Section R303.6 there are two requirements…one for the location of a lighting fixture, and one for the illumination of the stairway. They are not one in the same.

I have copied below the discussion from ICC’s deck code book, Deck Construction based on the 2009 IRC. Continue reading “Ask NADRA: Deck Stair Lighting Codes”