May kick-starts the summer season, with more people getting outdoors and using their decks. May is also Deck Safety Month® so make time to review your knowledge of deck safety to ensure that you’re providing a comprehensive inspection and the most critical information to your clients.
Use NADRA Resources
ASHI partners with the North American Deck and Rail Association (NADRA), whose goals include reducing injuries related to decks, increasing awareness of potentially unsafe structures and offering solutions to resolve and prevent unsafe situations. NADRA provides continuing education and certification for inspectors.
NADRA Executive Vice President Michael Beaudry said, “Our goal is to have at least 1,000 ASHI members certified as deck inspectors by the end of 2017. With great turnout and fantastic responses to our classes held at ASHI events since January 2015, we are well on our way. Home inspectors are very open to learning more about decks, and they understand that certification can add to their professionalism. Deck inspections can present new business and income, especially in states that require annual deck inspections.”
NADRA recommends that all homeowners have an annual deck inspection. By becoming certified by NADRA, you can enhance the quality of your inspections of decks, stairs and railings. Your extra efforts will show your commitment to addressing deck safety challenges and reducing injury statistics. Beaudry encourages ASHI members to review these online resources and features:
- Deck Safety Month® resources (http://www.nadra.org/consumers/deck_safety_month.html), including a video encouraging homeowners to have a deck inspection.
- General consumer information about deck inspections (http://www.nadra.org/consumers/deck_inspections.html).
- A detailed Deck Evaluation Form (http://www.nadra.org/Deck_Evaluation_Form.pdf) for inspectors, also available as an app. NADRA plans to analyze and apply data collected from users to improve awareness and injury-prevention efforts.
- NADRA membership information for inspectors (http://www.nadra.org/About_NADRA/inspectorfaq.html). Membership includes a personalized online profile that generates leads within your community. Over time, you can tally the number of inspections your NADRA profile page has sent your way.
- Training and certification (http://www.nadrablog.com/?p=2155%20or%20nadra.org/Education/Education_Home.html).
Link Clients with the Check Your Deck®
NADRA created a checklist for consumers (http://www.nadra.org/NADRA_DSM_Checklist.pdf) that offers details about critical issues including split or decaying wood; flashing; loose or corroded fasteners; stairs, railings and banisters; cleaning and maintenance; grills, fire pits, chimneys, heaters and candles; and lighting and electrical. It cautions that checking your own deck does not ensure that your deck complies with codes and recommends hiring a professional inspector for a complete evaluation. NADRA makes it easy for members to share this information with clients by sending out a fill-in-the-blank “Check Your Deck” press release.
Offer Clients a Free Deck Inspection
Consider promoting (or perhaps even suggest that your ASHI chapter coordinate) a drawing for a free deck inspection. For example, you could post a link highlighting Deck Safety Month on your website or social media feed or send an e-mail blast or letter to your former and potential clients, with a request to “like” or reply to the post or message. Explain that you’ll enter respondents into a random drawing and give the “reveal” date for finding out the name of the winner.
This idea came from an ASHI program implemented in 2011 in partnership with Simpson Strong-Tie. The two organizations teamed up to turn attention to the importance of deck checkups by offering free deck inspections to homeowners in Seattle, Atlanta and Chicago. More than 40 ASHI members participated, and the program served its purpose to encourage deck safety, with the bonus of earning accolades for local inspectors and for ASHI. Read more about this successful program here: http://www.ashireporter.org/HomeInspection/Articles/Deck-Safety-Week/2157.
Share Your Knowledge with the Media
Contact the media about the importance of deck safety and offer to be interviewed about the topic. In 2008, ASHI Executive Director Frank Lesh promoted deck safety by sharing tips during a segment on NBC’s Today Show (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QkzQdNq7K8). More recently, he was interviewed for an online article on This Old House (http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,20933543,00.html).
You don’t have to contact the national media, of course, but you could send that Deck Safety Month DIY press release available from NADRA to your local media. If you do, consider adding some specifics that you’d look for in a deck safety inspection. For example, Frank Lesh mentioned rusted fasteners and connectors, damage from bugs, cracks, rotted wood, loose railings and mold and mildew in his interviews. Most importantly, emphasize the importance of getting an inspector’s opinion and hiring a professional to make needed repairs.
Get on Deck!
Whatever you do—even if it means simply rechecking your own deck—be sure to pay special attention to deck safety in May. One final note: Beaudry encourages you to submit your most shocking deck inspection photos and captions to email@example.com. NADRA posts these online, much like the Reporter runs “Postcards from the Field,” so your name and business will be in the spotlight along with your photo.