Category Archives: Deck Safety Month

NADRA’s Free Deck Consumer Checklist for Homeowners; Helps You Determine if You Should Have a Professional Inspection

We’re jumping the gun on Deck Safety Month, NADRA’s annual month long deck safety awareness campaign, which officially starts on May 1st.

Download NADRA’s consumer checklist, designed to help owners of wood/composite decks to determine if they need a deck contractor or specialized inspection to determine if repairs or replacement of your deck is necessary. Don’t become the next victim and a become a statistic on a ever growing grim listing of deaths and injuries from deck collapses.  Click the link below to open and download the  NADRA_Homeowner Checklist

Need a deck inspector? Find one on our deck inspection page here. (4/18/17) Link/page coming soon

CA Senator Jerry Hill Introduces SB-721 Contractors: decks and balconies: inspection Supports Requiring Deck Inspections

Bill Duplicates Berkeley Bill Langauge in Who Can Perform Inspections

Should structural pest control operators, general contractors, architects or engineers inspect deck inspections as the state of CA is proposing?

They will be if the consulting and inspection industry doesn’t act quickly and object. Senator Hill has just introduced a bill that uses much the same language Berkeley’s city ordinance does.

“The inspection shall be performed by a licensed general contractor, structural pest control licensee, licensed architect, licensed engineer, or other licensee as approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The purpose of the inspection is to verify that all of the balconies and other elevated walking surfaces covered by this section are in generally safe condition, adequate working order, and free from hazardous dry rot, fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper alteration to the extent that the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants is not endangered.”

My thoughts-

Structural Pest Control Licensee-pest control licensee’s inspect buildings for termites/wood destroying organisms. They do not test roofs (or balconies) for water tightness, nor are they qualified to do so. Roof contractors can do so, but generally exclude themselves from inspecting decks. Pest control licensee’s do not know about waterproof coated decks, how they are installed, what problems to look for when doing an inspection and even if they do see a problem, don’t understand what caused it, what degree of a problems it is or how to repair it.

General Contractors-Most GC’s I know don’t know much about waterproofed coated decks and even less about the problems they may have. Indeed, I give seminars on Best Building Practices Building & Waterproofing Decks where the room is filled with GC’s. Ask a GC about flashings and door pans and coating application procedures and their eyes will usually glaze over; they just don’t know. Think of a General Contractor as a Doctor practicing general medicine-they know enough to get by and enough to refer you to a specialist. You wouldn’t go see your general practitioner for a heart problem and you wouldn’t call a General Contractor to come fix your waterproof deck. You would call a specialist who practices waterproofing every day just like you’d call a heart specialist for an operation.

Architects- in my review of the plans for Berkeley, I found multiple design issues with the deck plans. I called a friend of mine who graduated from the Cal-Poly SLO school of architecture and asked him how many classes or lectures he had on waterproofing in general and deck waterproofing specifically. None was his answer. I checked various architecture schools websites for classes on waterproofing. I am still searching, there’s got to be one.  I’ve been on jobs arguing with the architect about his design and how I’m supposed to waterproof it in…they are asking me what I think. Listen you are the one with the degree you just threw in my face; you design the waterproofing system, I’m only the waterproofing contractor.  Either I walk off the job because they’re an egotist asshole or they admit they need my help and I help them. What makes anyone think they know what’s wrong with a waterproof deck?

Engineers- Unless the intent is to push business to the large waterproofing consulting firms, who charge fees that many can’t afford, few engineers are or want to be qualified to inspect waterproofing projects.

So Who Should Be Inspecting Waterproof Decks?

Answer-Qualified Deck Inspectors. What makes a “qualified” deck inspector? People who have been in the trade. People who actually have experience installing waterproof decks.

Members of NADRA, the North American Deck & Railing Association, has a deck inspection course and qualified deck inspectors many of whom are also home inspectors.

I believe a course on how to inspect waterproof decks, with a checklist of items to use during the inspection, should be developed. As with home inspectors, no license is required. This should be the case here as well. There are many qualified individuals who could perform deck inspections but would be removed from doing so if the bill passes with it’s current language. recommends changes to the bill in regards to who can perform the deck inspections. What do you think?

Waterproofing Classifications CSLB-Maybe a license classification for waterproofing contractors should be reinstated by CSLB, currently several classes of contractors can waterproof decks, inc roofers, painters and synthetic products contractors. This creates confusion and disparity in the industry as roofers even of they are exempt from workers comp because they have no employees, must still have a workers comp policy in place. A painter is exempt from being required to have workers comp as is the synthetic products contractor.


The full text of the bill is below. Please register and comment on the bill to add your thoughts.

An act to add Section 7071.20 to the Business and Professions Code, relating to contractors.



SB 721, as introduced, Hill. Contractors: decks and balconies: inspection.
Existing law provides authority for an enforcement agency to enter and inspect any buildings or premises whenever necessary to secure compliance with or prevent a violation of the building standards published in the California Building Standards Code and other rules and regulations that the enforcement agency has the power to enforce.
This bill would require the inspection of decks, balconies, and elevated walkways more than 6 feet above ground level in a building containing 3 or more multifamily units by a person licensed to perform these inspections by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The bill would require the inspections and any necessary repairs to be completed by January 1, 2021, and would require subsequent inspections every 5 years, except as specified. The bill would require a copy of the inspection report to be filed with the county recorder and made available, as specified. The repairs made under these provisions would be required to comply with the latest edition of the California Building Standards Code and all local jurisdictional requirements. The bill would authorize local enforcing agencies to recover enforcement costs associated with these requirements.
Because this bill would impose new duties upon local enforcement authorities, it would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.



Section 7071.20 is added to the Business and Professions Code, to read:


(a) All buildings containing three or more multifamily dwelling units, any existing balcony or other elevated walking surface exposed to water, including, but not limited to, rain, snow, or irrigation, with structural framing that is protected by an impervious moisture barrier shall be inspected. For purposes of this section, balconies or other elevated walking surfaces less than six feet above grade are not included. The inspection shall be performed by a licensed general contractor, structural pest control licensee, licensed architect, licensed engineer, or other licensee as approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The purpose of the inspection is to verify that all of the balconies and other elevated walking surfaces covered by this section are in generally safe condition, adequate working order, and free from hazardous dry rot, fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper alteration to the extent that the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants is not endangered.

Building elements, including the walking surface, structural frame and connector hardware, weatherproofing, landings, stairway systems, guardrails, handrails, and any other elements critical to the safety of the balcony or elevated walking surface, found to be in need of repair or replacement, hazardous, structurally deficient, or noncompliant shall, upon determination by the licensed professional, be immediately corrected by the property owner or individual responsible for management or operation of the building. All necessary permits for repair or replacement of exterior balconies and elevated walking surfaces shall be obtained from the local jurisdiction. All repair and replacement work, including installation and inspection of impervious moisture barrier systems, must be performed in compliance with manufacturer’s instructions, the latest edition of the California Building Standards Code, and all local jurisdictional requirements.
(b) The inspection and repairs shall be completed by January 1, 2021, and every five years thereafter. The licensed professional conducting the inspection shall produce an initial report that states the condition of the building features and recommendations for repair, conditioning, or replacement and a final report indicating that all of the required repairs have been completed. A copy of the final report shall be submitted to the county recorder for recordation. Local enforcing agencies may determine the information to be provided in the report and require a copy of the initial or final reports, or both, to be submitted to the local jurisdiction in lieu of recordation.
(c) Multifamily buildings of three units or more for which a building permit application has been submitted on or after February 1, 2017, are exempt from the inspection certification requirements for a period of five years following issuance of a certificate of occupancy from the local jurisdiction.
(d) The continued and ongoing maintenance of balconies and elevated walking surfaces and parts thereof, in a safe and sanitary condition, shall be the responsibility of the owner or the owner’s designated agent. To determine ongoing compliance with this subdivision, the enforcing agency shall have the authority to require reinspection of those structures.
(e) Local enforcing agencies shall have the ability to recover enforcement costs associated with the requirements of this section.

SEC. 2.

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.

Play the Safety Game Safely With Fine Homebuilding’s Online Interactive Game

How much do you know about decks and safely building them? See how knowledgeable you are with this new game…
From Fine Homebuilding-
The Inspector game challenges you to spot code and safety violations, missing structural elements, and anything else we decided to delete or add to a real photo or diagram from Fine Homebuilding magazine. Ace the quiz by getting all five answers correct.

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Deck Collapses-July 4th partiers fall 3 stories in Ala.; 1 dead


A wooden deck crumpled under a group of Fourth of July partiers in Alabama, killing one person and injuring six others.

Seven partygoers plummeted three stories when the deck at an apartment complex in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover collapsed Sunday night. Two uninhabited decks below were crushed by the falling debris.

Hoover Fire Department spokesman Rusty Lowe said one person was pronounced dead at the hospital, another is in critical and three are hospitalized with serious injuries. Two were treated for minor injuries and released.

Read more:

Oops! May is (was) National Deck Safety Month

Direct from NADRA, North American Deck & Railing Association’s web page on deck safety…this applies to wood and waterproof decks-check ’em for safety and life issues!

The number of deck failures and resulting injuries has been increasing at an alarming rate. Between 2000 and 2006, there have been at least 30 deaths reported as a direct result of deck collapses and more than 75 percent of people on a deck when it collapses are injured or killed, illuminating just how important it is for homeowners to check their deck. There are 40 million decks in the U.S. that are over 20 years old. At a conservative 1 percent, that means 40,000 decks are currently in need of repair or replacement. Taking that estimate to 10 percent brings the total number of unsafe decks to 4 million.

Its time to Check Your Deck! Homeowners should visit NADRA�s website at for the Check Your Deck – 10-Point safety checklist. �May is a great time to make your deck-check,� Beaudry says. �In parts of the country where there�s a lot of snow and ice, your deck could have developed a trouble spot over the winter.� Beaudry adds, �If you�ve never had your deck professionally inspected, make that appointment. A professional inspection will examine every inch of your deck, educate you on your deck�s capacity limits, identify any problem areas, and give you a map of what to keep your eye on in the future. If your deck is older, this might include a regular deck inspection schedule.�

If you find your deck is not safe to enjoy, NADRA advises taking immediate action to have it repaired or rebuilt as necessary and recommends the following tips to choose a deck builder.

* Ask friends and family members for referrals and contact state and local licensing authorities and trade associations such as NADRA.
* Meet with and carefully evaluate all potential deck builders. Ask to see a portfolio and some samples of the decking and railing materials they prefer to use. Good builders take pride in their work and will be enthusiastic about the possibility of creating a relationship.
* Pay attention to the deck builder�s experience, licensing, insurance coverage and professional references.

A key element of enjoying your deck for years to come is making sure it is safe and code compliant. When hiring a deck builder, there is more to consider than just price. In addition to the tips above, NADRA recommends homeowners contact their city or county building department to speak with an inspector with knowledge in deck construction.

For more information on Deck Safety Month, the Check Your Deck program and finding a reputable deck builder, visit