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. 

2015 Code Update, By Glenn Mathewson

Two weeks ago the code proposals for the creation of the 2015 IRC were posted for public review, and NADRA quickly made our industry aware.  There are a lot of them to review.  In building codes alone there were 1132 pages of proposals.

 

I have read and skimmed through all these pages and found the proposals related in some way to our industry.  These proposal numbers and a brief explanation can be read HERE

 

There’s some good stuff, some questionable stuff and some…other stuff proposed.  I will be at the hearings in Dallas at the end of April representing NADRA and our industry…so let NADRA know what you think.  Here are some highlights of what may be ready and waiting for you in the future.  I know 2015 is years away…but the decisions are being made now.

 

RB61 suggests adding various deflection limitations for guards.  This is a tough one.  Manufactured guard assemblies are already tested to these limits, so it’s generally business-as-usual.  It’s the custom built guards that take the hit.  How will the inspector verify these limits?  How will you know your standard cedar guardrail meets these limits?  Speaking of deflection, RB61 proposes to nail down a deflection limit of L/360 for decks.  Is that too much for a deck with no ceiling below?  Take a look and see what you think of the proposed deflection limits, but give a long read to RB268 as well.  Among many other requirements, take a look at how it could affect your guard design and construction.  Do these ideas work for you, or could they be refined?

 

The lateral load tension device provision that is neither required nor validated will get more involved if RB260, RB261, RB262 and RB263 are approved.  Should this flawed code provision get further complicated and accepted through new exceptions to what is not even a rule…  Should more lateral load methods, based on loads that are yet to be understood, be printed in the ever-growing IRC?  Research on lateral live loads has occurred and more sound and validated standards will be produced in the future.  Will it be a greater uphill struggle to this goal if this section is made more complicated now?

 

“Fire separation distance” is the IRC’s version of “setbacks”.  Decks have long been ignored in the IRC in regard to how close to property lines they can be built.  RB74 and RB75 would end this, and decks and stairs would simply be prohibited from being any closer than 5 feet from the lot line.  Should there be an exception for decks under a certain height?  RB66 also proposes new fire separation ideas for decks, but they’re less restrictive.  Should we interject our experiences and opinions on this topic?

 

The 2009 and 2012 IRC effectively killed built-in seating at guards with the requirement to measure the minimum 36-inch guard height from the seat.  RB145 proposes to eliminate that requirement and bring back some architectural freedom to guard design.  How does that one sound to you?  Should it get NADRA support?  What about eliminating blocking over cantilevers 2 feet or less, as described in RB247.  That might help in installing some deck drainage systems.

 

Well, there’s a start to understanding what’s on the table for the IRC, and I hope it’s caught your interest.  There are more than just those.  Proposals can be modified during the whole process, so proposals that may have flaws, can be built upon and corrected.  As the voice of the decking industry, we have a chance to help build on these proposals and take a hold of the future of our industry.

 

Please send your feedback to Info@NADRA.org