The 2015 IRC is Complete, Glenn Mathewson

NADRA attended the Public Comment Hearings on October 4th, 2013 to serve and protect the decking industry in the development of the 2015 IRC.  I’m happy to say that we did that job well, and have little to fear in the new provisions now decided.  Here’s a review of the topics we spoke on.

RB6: Approved at first hearing and turned to disapproved at final hearing. 

Approved in the first hearing, this proposal would have removed the maximum 200 square foot area for low-­‐level decks to not require a permit, as well as allow them to be attached to houses. With deck codes so rapidly changing, this is not the time to reduce verification and put an economic gap between decks built correctly by professionals and those built by others. More importantly, the larger the deck, the more probable hazards there can be and the more our industry will be tarnished with “horror story” projects. We spoke against this deregulation that was approved in the first hearings and a 2/3 majority overturned it. We started the hearings out showing that we aren’t just in it for ourselves, but for our industry.

Read full recap HERE.

By: Glenn Mathewson, MCP

NADRA Technical Advisor

Your Future; This Week

October 1st, 2013

Your Future; This Week

As this hits your inbox, I’m likely in route to Atlantic City, New Jersey to represent, support and defend the decking industry.  This week, your future will be decided in the 2015 International Residential Code.  On my last day to prepare before leaving Colorado, I’m nervous, but excited.  Most of all, I’m proud.  I’m proud because we’ve achieved one of the most important aspects of code development…recognition.  The code development process is complicated, cumbersome, and difficult just at published face value, but there is also a professional, dare I say social, aspect to it.  Recognition, respect and trust are vital to this work.  Here is where I feel NADRA has succeeded, and this will be the foundation for all code development work now and into the future.  Every year this process occurs for different codes, and every three years for the IRC.

There’s a lot at stake this year in code development.  Will you be installing hold-downs on every guard post, or will you be free from installing them on every ledger?  Will all decks be outright prohibited from within 5 feet of property lines?  Will there finally be joist, beam and post sizing provisions available to ease design validation?

What won’t be at stake this year is NADRA.  We have demonstrated our commitment to our vision and mission statement for code development, and we have been appreciated for it.

Vision: Safe decks with well-thought-out engineering and a common sense practical approach to code requirements.

Code Mission Statement: To advance and protect industry interests in the code development arena and to promote member involvement; to promote governmental and agency reliance on NADRA as a voice for the industry; to create and maintain relationships with key government agencies and code officials; to be a forum for the discussion, study, and investigation of proposed and existing model code development, federal and state legislation and programs, and to report such findings to the Board of Directors and the Membership.

We have contributed heavily to an informal discussion group regarding deck codes and during the committee hearings in May.  We have worked with other professionals and organizations on shared proposals, and we have provided assistance to proposals of others.  We have made it clear that we are here, ready and willing to be a part of any discussion, work, or progress regarding the standards of the decking and railing industry.  We expect to be a part of it.

While we may not exactly know the course the decking industry is sailing, we are in the pilot’s cabin.  However the votes go on Thursday and Friday of this week, we know that we we’re heard and respected.  We ARE the voice of the decking industry, and we have been and will continue to speak.  However, we are also the ears of the industry, as we cannot speak for it without first listening the to all segments.  With no cards up our sleeves and no hidden agendas, we have opened ourselves up to listen and respond honestly to all that are willing to share their opinions, ideas, concerns and experiences.  We have asked for compromise and mutual understanding.  We have encouraged learning from each other and finding common ground.  We have respected the segments of the industry, all of which deserve such, and regardless of our agreement or not.

This has been a good year for NADRA in code development, and I am proud to have been at the heart of it.  Thank you, NADRA members and the industry at large, for your support of my work, our work.  Thank you for trusting me with this job.

I’ll do my best to keep you informed on hearings live through my Facebook and Twitter accounts, but you can certainly expect a full recap after the hearings…after a long nap.

Glenn Mathewson, MCP

NADRA Technical Advisor

When There’s No Public Comment

September 18th, 2013

When There’s No Public Comment

NADRA Technical Advisor – Glenn Mathewson

 

If a proposal in the IRC code development process doesn’t receive a public comment, the vote from the first hearing is generally the final result.  With the recent publishing of the public comments, we can now see what the 2015 IRC is starting to look like.  It’s been a lot of work keeping up with the high-profile deck code proposals on the table this summer, like the monstrous 268 with a depth of un-agreed-upon prescriptive code provisions that would rock the industry or the one that already has…the lateral load anchor.  Those most certainly received public comment, but there were other less glamorous proposals regarding our industry that did not.

NADRA had a simple proposal, RB 58, suggesting to change all wording of “guardrail” to “guard”, to seek consistency with the IRC defined term “guard”.  The definition for guard allows any assembly that meets the performance and geometric requirements.  This proposal was approved by the committee and received no public comment to challenge it.  With this code modification, no safety to deck guards was compromised and the cost to construction did not increase.  However, a more clear description of the architectural playing field was provided.  A win for all, and “rails” for those that want them.

NADRA was asked to support proposal RB 145 from the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council, seeking to remove the requirement for measuring guard height from fixed seating.  We gave great testimony in support during the hearings, as did the Minnesota Building Officials Chapter.  All proponents agreed that deck safety and backyard freedom must be balanced on the scale, and this regulation was too far a reach for a building code.  The committee agreed, and no one challenged it.  Should the bulk vote go as it always does at the final hearing, built-in bench seats will no longer affect guard height.  Developing IRC provisions (minimum standards of construction) is different than developing best practices or appropriately accommodating your clients.  Take care to evaluate the needs of your client and help them find the level of safety that’s right for them.  If their kids are jumping on the couch while your designing their deck…maybe don’t suggest those benches.

Even if NADRA’s proposal for deck and joist span tables, RB 264, is not approved at the final hearing, the flexibility it provided for blocking at dropped beams will still be accommodated by the NAHB’s proposal RB 247.  With no public comment, the first approval will likely stand, and blocks between joists cantilevered no more than two feet will no longer be required.  This may be very helpful for deck drainage systems and for minimizing locations for trapped water and decay.  Keep in mind that without blocking, the material connected to the top and bottom of the joist is what resists the rotational force the joist is subjected to.  Be sure you’ve got good connections to the beam below, and be careful about using a concealed fastening system for the decking that only relies on friction.  The blocking served a purpose; the argument for the code modification is that in short cantilevers these connections can do the job.

The proposal RB 253, which would have prohibited supporting joists from the bottom half of another member, was turned down, and did not receive comment.  While perhaps a rare design necessity, this proposal would have restricted opportunity for some deck design, but without clear evidence of the benefit.  However, coming from the American Wood Council, there’s certainly an engineering basis for their proposal.  Though a short-spanning 2×6 likely won’t rip the bottom half of a 2×12 beam apart, I’m sure a creative designer could come up with a loading condition that could be questionable.

RB 260 proposed that the “permitted” hold down anchors for lateral loads must be installed at the outer 24 inches of the ledger.  This proposal was approved and received no direct public comment.  However, in light of the recent research from Washington State University, NADRA submitted a public comment modification to remove this anchor detail altogether.  If you haven’t seen the video, take a look.  It will be worth your 13.5 minutes.  Click HERE to view.  If not successful, at least the new location for the permitted anchors, at the ends of the ledger, would be at the highest point of load concentration per the WSU testing.  One small bit of real science to a detail not otherwise scientifically justified.

There is a lot to be learned in the code modification process.  While we may not all agree on every proposal, they usually all have a justification reasonable to someone or some group.  Don’t take that lightly.  Take what can be learned from ideas and experiences of professionals looking to increase the minimum standard…and use it to increase the knowledge behind your best standard.

Never forget the difference between minimum standard and best standard, and the freedom and the market that thrive on the distinction.

Deck Lateral Load – The Truth Revealed

Deck Lateral Load – The Truth Revealed

The lateral load anchor provisions that came into the 2009 IRC have had a dramatic affect on the decking industry.

Born from a fear of band joists being ripped from homes by the decks they support, a best guess to bypass the band joist altogether came into the code. Though only “permitted” it is often required.

New testing from Washington State University dismantles the fear and shows the strength of a lag-screw connected ledger…without the extra metal.

NADRA has been diligently representing and supporting the decking industry in the code development process. Now, in 2013, the 2015 IRC is being created, and NADRA took the opportunity to get these research results included in the discussion. NADRA’s work can be reviewed HERE

This video explains how the anchor provisions came to be, how they’ve affect the industry and the truth revealed in the recent research. Please click the image to watch the video:

 

 

BUILDING CODE OR PRODUCT CATALOG?

August 21, 2013 – Glenn Mathewson, NADRA Technical Advisor

How many hold-down anchors does it take to build a deck?

The development of the 2015 IRC is halfway through, and there’s likely going to be some new regulations for the construction industry to adjust to.  For the decking industry, there’s lobbying working to create new building codes around specific product lines.  We’ve already seen the costly results of including “permitted” details in the code depicting specific products.  The lateral load anchor detail, that was published this way in the 2009 IRC, is quickly read as “required” by many building departments.  Now, as new research is revealing that ledgers fair quite well without lateral anchors, there is a proposal seeking to “permit” the use of anchors on every guard post in the 2015 IRC.  Will history be repeated and this also be read as “required”?

Proposals like this risk turning a standards document into something that looks more like a product catalog.  More importantly, this lobbying, if successful, adds significant time and cost to deck installations in an increasingly competitive industry, while at the same time limiting design options and architectural freedom.

There’s a lot on the table this year in the development of the 2015 IRC.  NADRA has submitted a public comment modification that reveals new information about ledger connection performance and seeks to remove the 1500 lb. lateral-load anchor detail from the IRC.  At the same time, NADRA is fighting against proposal 268 that seeks to include new requirements for guard construction, complete with pictures of specific hardware.

LATERAL LOAD REQUIREMENTS-RB263

Proposal 263 seeks to include an exception to the lateral-load anchor for decks that are less than 30” above grade.  While sensible, an exception to something merely “permitted” does not make much sense, and implies that what is permitted is actually required.

 With new and exciting test results from Washington State University, NADRA’s public comment to RB263 attempts to remove the lateral-load anchor not only for low-level decks, but completely from the IRC.  It turns out…people can only generate so much lateral load, and lag screwed ledgers can resist a whole lot more…four times more, and the test was stopped before the ledger ever failed.  With a force four times greater than humans could generate, deflecting the deck 17 inches to the side, ripping the joists down the center…the ledger with nothing but lag screws held.  The rim joist in the house held.  The necessity of a 1500 lb. anchor clearly serves questionable value.

Does this detail belong as a minimum standard of deck construction now that the performance of a lag-screwed deck ledger is known to be quite sufficient?

Read Full Article HERE

See  RB 268 details HERE

GIVING VOICE TO NADRA MEMBERS

 If the issues of increased costs, inflexible design, and heavy-handed industry regulation with no material benefit matters to you, consider joining me at the code hearing in Atlantic City NJ on October 3 and 4th.  Your presence, your voice, your attention and your passion will make a difference…after all…it is YOUR industry.  Stand up and fight for it, but don’t do it alone.  If you want to know more or get more involved, please contact me at glennmathewson@nadra.org.  Together we can bring truth and insight to the development of the building codes.

Stay Ahead of The Change; 2015 Codes Underway Now

The time has come again for us to be a part of our future…for you to be a part of your future.  The International Code Council released the proposed changes to the 2012 International Residential Code (IRC) on March 11th.  The ideas contained in these proposals come from professionals and non-professionals from all corners of the construction industry and from all over the nation and result in the 2015 IRC.  Now is the time for the decking industry to review these ideas and see how they affect our industry, both positive and negative.

 

In only a handful of weeks, I will be in Dallas at the ICC Committee action hearings representing NADRA to speak in opposition or support for any proposals that affect our industry.  The hearings run from April 20th to 31st, where over 2,000 individual proposed changes will be discussed.

 

The decisions made from now until this Fall will be those that determine what code will be published in 2015 and what you will be working under in 2016 and beyond.  NADRA needs your help reviewing these proposals to determine which ones matter to us and our opinion of them.  Please follow the link found HERE to ICC’s website and choose a PDF to download and begin reviewing.  Please keep us informed of your efforts and opinions in the next few weeks, as official NADRA positions on proposals need to be determined well before the hearings.  We need your opinions to know our position.  Now is the time, and there’s not much of it.

 

On behalf of the NADRA leadership and membership and most certainly on behalf of myself, I look forward to working together to create our future.

 

Thank you,

 

Glenn Mathewson

NADRA Technical Advisor

Update: ICC Action Committee Proposal

The ICC Building Code Action Committee is considering a very large proposal for deck construction provisions to be included in the 2015 IRC.  Anyone is invited to provide feedback, both opponent and proponent, on the proposal.  The committee wishes to work on the document with the industry, prior to the hearings next year.  Take a look at this proposal and see if you want these provisions to become code? Code, such that any other option is an “alternative” that has to be convinced to the building official over “just doing what the code says”.

You decide, NADRA.  What are your opinions about this?

There are some helpful provisions…and some…others.  It’s a long document…but it’s very, very serious. Code that comes out of an ICC Action Committee comes with some serious power.  Get involved and help NADRA represent our industry in the code development process.  We need you.

NADRA is positioned as the voice of the deck, dock and railing industry. Send your input toInfo@NADRA.org.

Read Proposal

 

 

NADRA October 2012 National Code Meeting

We were quite pleased by the turnout of professionals that attended the meeting at Deck Expo about the development of the 2015 IRC.  Members from all aspects of our industry sat together while we delivered a message about the upcoming code modification process, the goals, needs and the current status of NADRA in regard to this process.  This was followed by an open format for member to discuss their concerns and ideas and to ask questions.  This meet and greet was a great start to getting the association working together on important code issues that affect us all.

A few points of discussion:

1)   It was brought up by a member that the lateral load anchor detail in the IRC should be a priority of NADRA in the upcoming process.  This code provision has garnered the attention of the entire industry since it’s inclusion in the code.  Builders and code administrators alike are baffled with how to handle this detail in the application of the code.  However, it is not easily removed from the code, as was discovered in the process for the 2012 IRC, where it was proven that logical issues would alone not remove it.  The testing performed by Washington State regarding lateral live loads from deck occupants was discussed as a possible reference for deriving actual lateral loads that need resistance, as opposed to an arbitrary number, now provided in the IRC.  It was strongly agreed that this portion of the IRC needs modification, but equally recognized that research and testing will likely be necessary for the ICC membership to consider any modification proposal.

2)   The need for funding for the work of NADRA in the code change process was discussed, as well as ideas for fundraising.  Builders present were brainstorming ideas for a grass-roots type of support and fundraising that allows builder members to directly support and promote the NADRA code change efforts.  It was recognized that the financial burden couldn’t be put solely on the shoulders of our industry members.  At the same time, industry members still showed their support in the effort.  When industry pros like FastenMaster and Fiberon stand with builders for a common effort in code, you know you’ve got an industry working together.  The Professional Deck Builder, a trade journal, was also there, and offered to help publicize our efforts.

3)   The strategy for growing NADRA’s presence in the ICC modification process was discussed.  It was proposed that NADRA select some low-hanging fruit code modifications that will be an easy win.  This will allow NADRA and NADRA’s representative, Glenn Mathewson, to make a good and positive first impression on the ICC membership and committee during the 2013 process.  The primary efforts will be focused on reviewing, commenting and proposing modification to proposals submitted by others.  The ICC process provides many opportunities to building and modify the code throughout the process, including modification of others proposals.

If you are a NADRA member, or an industry professional, we invite you to join us in the discussion of the future of ICC code provisions that affect deck construction.  Send an email to NADRA Headquarters, at info@nadra.org, or to Glenn Mathewson, at glennmathewson@nadra.org