As we are at the cusp of traditional “deck building season” for much of our country, we at the North American Deck & Railing Association (NADRA), have been talking to builders nationwide who are seeing the culmination of seasonal business growth mixing with the overall stronger economy, for a busier spring building season for many of them. Our conversations with retailers, distributors, and manufacturers also appears to support these “on the ground” sentiments. This is exciting news for all of us—as increased consumer confidence and residential remodeling spending not only is the lifeblood of our industry, but on a more human level suggests that families are finally pursuing their dream of that perfect backyard, or replacing that deck they’ve been worried about with a structure that is safe and secure.
NADRA has partnered with the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) over the last few years to develop inspector-specific training to help their members perform proper residential deck inspections. Deck inspections are forecasted to be a growing need, as there are millions of aging decks throughout the U.S. that should be examined to ensure occupant safety. This relationship has been a success for both organizations. We’ve received positive feedback not only on the educational content, but also increased business opportunities for their inspectors, and referral relationships with our builders as well. Many of the trained inspectors going on to become NADRA members.
In this same avenue, NADRA is working with several other national and international nonprofits to develop similar programs. Each strategic relationship is developed with the expressed intent of expanding access to industry-specific training, and impacting those connected marketplaces to promote better materials, better communication, and better building practices.
In January, several NADRA directors visited with many of our manufacturer members presenting at the International Builders’ Show in Florida. This gave us the opportunity to have in-depth conversations about upcoming product releases with our manufacturers, as well as give them an opportunity to interact and provide program and membership feedback. This was followed by an ASHI event also in Florida, and regional events with members in New Jersey in February, and Georgia in March. This fall we look forward to the DeckExpo/Remodeling Show as it returns again to Baltimore for October 9-11.
Perhaps the biggest news is the official introduction of the NADRA Consumer Product Awareness Campaign (CPAC) program. This is an initiative we were tasked with several years back; to develop a set of industry standards for reviewing materials, starting with the decking surfaces. Programs like this have done well in other related building material industries, and generally allow for the membership of that industry to have some say in policing themselves, and have a say in how to properly measure performance for the materials in their industry.
This also allows each manufacturer to better promote the benefits of each specific product line to the general public, reducing the likelihood of improper purchases with misplaced expectations. We believe this will translate into lower up-front purchase hesitation and increased sales, with higher consumer satisfaction and lower warranty and litigation concerns over time—all while establishing quality standards for any new or imported (i.e., untested) products which could otherwise jeopardize the industry.
With May officially designated as Deck Safety Month™, all of us here at NADRA encourage you and your customers to Check Your Deck™. To learn more, visit NADRA.org (nadra.org/NADRA_DSM_Checklist.pdf to download the Deck Safety Checklist) or visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/NADRARocks/ for more tips. Additionally, many municipalities have updated their code reference documents and may have moved to following a newer version of the IRC/IBC.
Now is a great time to leverage Deck Safety Month to reach out to your local municipal inspectors and independent agencies, and to ensure clear lines of communication and proactive agreement on specific deck solutions, connections, and best practices. As always, we welcome your feedback, so reach out if we can ever be of assistance.
In addition to serving as President of NADRA, Matthew serves as President of Breyer Construction & Landscape, LLC, in Reading, Pa., which designs and builds custom composite decks and patios using 3D design software.