by: John Paulin of Tailor Decks, Inc.
June 18, 2012 | I have been building decks in Atlanta for more than 20 years and have seen so many changes over the years. I can’t imagine starting my business today in this industry with all the changes and demands. It use to be so simple. No one was getting building permits, or even thought about it. Heck, I even remember selling projects and never having contracts. Could you imagine doing that today?!
Building permits and contracts are the most important part to any successful businesses nowadays. Pulling building permits and working with inspectors can be a pain at first, but once you push through it, it becomes habit and not so bad. I use to think contracts were insulting, and that two people should be able to work together with a hand shake. Well, that part may be true, but that is not what a contract is about.
A contract outlines the scope of work to be performed by the contractor and what the contractor expects from the purchaser. When I meet with the purchaser, there are so many different items discussed and so many different options, who could ever keep up with all of them? The more descriptive the contract is, the smoother the project runs. When a disagreement arises between the contractor and purchaser, the contract is there to fall back on.
My contract today is 8 pages long and is very descriptive. It outlines the scope of work, the payment schedule, the warranty, and discusses all unexpected items that may come up and cost involved. I have been working on my companies contract for over two years now and still adding an item here and there when something new comes up. I don’t know if it will ever be finished. For the first 17 years of Tailor Decks, my contract was only 1 page with an attachment which briefly described the work to be performed.
I was recently talking with some contractors that have been in the construction industry longer than I have, and they all felt the longer the contract is, the purchaser perceives the builder to be more professional. I think this has a lot of truth to it and I may be on the right path.
What do you think? Feel free to send comments or start discussions. I would love to hear from some fellow NADRA members.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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:
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”
Excerpt taken from the weekly NADRA Industry Brief
December 1, 2010 | The week of October 24th, I attended the International Code Council (ICC) Conference on NADRA’s behalf.
Special thanks to board member Mick Feduniec (Deckscapes, Inc.) and his family for putting me up (and putting up with me) at their beautiful home in Charlotte for the duration of my stay.
While at the Conference, I participated in a meeting of the ICC Evaluation Service Advisory Committee (ESAC). ESAC is charged with improving service to manufacturers seeking Evaluation Service Reports (ESR). Please see http://www.icc-es.org/Help/esac.shtml for a more in-depth discussion of the purpose of ESAC.
The committee is open to participation from members of industry and manufacturers. What struck me as most important was an earnest effort on the part of all participants to move toward resolution and improvement. I was able to meet several vice presidents of ICC-ES as well as manufacturer and industry representatives.
Continue reading “NADRA Codes & Standards Committee Update”
Article posted courtesy of www.deckmagazine.com.
November 30, 2010 | When I was a carpenter and a builder, I never joined an industry association. I didn’t see what was in it for me. That was taking the short view. I didn’t realize that associations lobby on industry-wide issues such as codes. In fact, I didn’t know how codes were written. If I had thought about it, I’d have guessed that some think tank of structural engineers sat around developing minimum standards based on a reasonable expectation of building performance.
Well, it turns out that’s not quite right. Code writing is a political process as much as a technical one. Code changes can be suggested by anyone, from individuals to corporations. My crazy Uncle Lou could suggest a code change. Properly submitted code proposals are vetted by a committee. The survivors are voted up or down at the International Code Council’s annual meetings. The only people who get to vote on whether changes make it into the IRC are governmental members of the ICC — mostly code officials.
The people most affected by the code — you — don’t get a vote. Anyone can comment on proposed changes before the final vote, but what deck builder has the time to keep abreast of proposed changes to the code and to write a letter or comment at the annual ICC meeting? I never did. Nor did I realize I could. Even so, considering the commenter could be Uncle Lou, the view of one individual probably shouldn’t carry a lot of weight. But associations? If I were a voting ICC member, I’d give more time and credence to associations than to the concerns of an individual.
Continue reading “Associations and the Code”