Contractors speak out Professional Deck Builder recently spoke with Diana Hanson, who chairs the North American Deck and Railing Association's (NADRA) Codes and Standards Committee.

PDB: How do building codes such as the IRC get written?

Hanson: It's a cycle that results in a new model code publication every three years. The International Code Council (ICC) membership meets several times during this cycle to adopt changes to the IRC and IBC as well as to other model code books. Every three years, fully revised code books come out of this process.

There are subcommittees meeting all the time to develop changes. NADRA's code committee has been an active participant in the Climbable Guards Study Group of the ICC's Code Technology Committee for the past three years. The CTC meets several times a year to examine complicated or controversial issues in depth, and then makes recommendations to the ICC for consideration at public hearings.

PDB: What does it take to be a voting member of the ICC?

Hanson: Voting members are all government officials such as building inspectors or fire marshals.

PDB: Who gets to provide input to the subcommittees and the full body of the ICC?

Hanson: Anybody. Mostly though, it's people like professors and engineers, manufacturers, and industry organizations like NADRA.

PDB: What's the role of NADRA's code committee?

Hanson: We are part of the ever-evolving process that adapts codes to new construction methods, manufacturing processes, and goods that come to market. In addition to participating in the ICC public hearings and committee work, we have spent our time developing relationships with representatives of other trade associations, manufacturers, ICC officials, and so on.

The ICC will meet in September to consider changes to the 2009 IRC, and the public comment period for that just closed. Once those comments are published, we'll divide them up among our committee members to review for issues that matter to the deck, dock, and railing industry. The committee will make a recommendation to our board of directors, and go from there. I'll stand up at the ICC hearings and testify to NADRA's position on these proposals.

Additionally, we're acting as a watchdog. As issues of concern arise, we work to address them and get information out that is helpful to our members, the industry, and the consumer. Long term, we'd like to find a way to make the codes easier for deck builders to understand.

PDB: What's next after this year's ICC meeting?

Hanson: A new code cycle begins on the heels of the old one. So, NADRA's code committee will begin reviewing the '09 codes, looking for ways to improve them for deck builders and the industry.