NADRA Code Update

February 2019

By Glenn Mathewson

Thanks to the support of NADRA members we have shared our knowledge with others in the campfire discussions regarding deck code proposals for the 2021 International Residential Code.  There were 9 proposals submitted with our assistance and approval. The Deck Code Coalition is an informal group of generous professionals from a variety of backgrounds. Led by the steadfast efforts of Mr. Charles Banjai, a now retired code official and long-time contributor to code development, NADRA was able to work with these professionals toward well-developed deck codes.   While some disagreement remains and some is yet to be decided, it appears the majority of these proposals have broad support. Here is a brief rundown of what was submitted.

  1. Decking spans for single-span and two-span conditions.
  2. Ledger, joist, and beam design tables up to 50, 60 & 70 psf snow loads.
  3. Beam cantilever wording corrected.  Mostly clerical.
  4. Relocation of footing depth and frost protection provisions.  Mostly clerical, so interpretation can be more consistent and understood.
  5. Separates guards and handrails on the load table so future, more appropriate, minimum design loads can be determined for each independently.
  6. Provisions requiring guard post attachment to be secured to adjacent members in the deck framing.  Sets minimum guard post at 4×4 and with no notches permitted.
  7. Clarifies that multi-ply beams must be fastened together.
  8. An adjustment factor to allow longer beam spans when the joists do not cantilever beyond the beam and for various distances of cantilever.  This will allow more flexible use of the beam span table.
  9. Add an appendix for guard post connection details and for future provisions regarding specific deck designs.

While this milestone in the code development process is exciting, it’s just the beginning.  Anyone can submit a proposal and there are plenty of people interested in decks. Here are the next steps:

  1. On March 4th ICC will publish all of the proposed changes.  Previous years leave expectations at well over a thousand pages of proposals to review for deck-related provisions.  
  2. Once identified, the membership will need to decide. What’s good, what needs work, what is dangerous?
  3. Research and communication with others follows.  
  4. Then reaching out to the proponents of topics of concern to share and discuss, in hopes that agreement and compromise for better code can be achieved before the hearing.  
  5. Before the Albuquerque hearings this May, testimony has to be prepared in hope as the winning words for the committee.
  6. After these preparations, the hearing will commence and it will end, and the committee results will be published.  
  7. Next, all the research and networking will happen again as public comments are prepared and submitted.
  8. This is only to be followed by all the public comments being published and the review of all the surprises will begin again.
  9. Finally, all will conclude at the final hearings in October 2019.

If you are in the decking industry, we need your help.  The ideas are being discussed and the rules are being made.  You shouldn’t stand on the sidelines any longer. We need you in the game. There are two ways you can help in a big way.

1. Offer your time: To volunteer time, please email Info@NADRA.org and we will work with you and the code committee to see how we can best utilize your skills – most likely, helping to review the proposals in March.

2. Offer your monetary support: To contribute to the fundraising initiative, follow this link here to see what our goal and how the funds are being used to keep this effort moving forward. 

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.