With Spring Racing Carnival celebrations and the festive party season fast approaching, a deck or balcony can be the perfect place for relaxing or entertaining, but it also has the potential to be one of the most dangerous.
Deck safety is a crucial, though often overlooked aspect of home ownership. An estimated 12,000 homes have dangerous structures in risk of collapse. Severe injuries and even death are not uncommon when a balcony or deck collapses, and these structural failures happen more often than many property owners realise.
Make Deck Safety a Priority
Structural damage to decks and balconies can result in tragic consequences, so it’s vital for homeowners to be vigilant about deck maintenance and repair. If you’re purchasing a new property which features a deck, are considering the addition of a deck to your property or simply have concerns about the structural integrity of an existing deck or balcony, it’s wise to consult a professional to have those concerns addressed. A qualified Building Inspector can help you uncover areas of potential concern, making your deck a safe and secure place to entertain or relax at the end of a long day.
How to Spot Problem Balconies
Some signs of compromised structural integrity are easy for even the untrained eye to spot. Visible signs of wet rot, corrosion, rust and damaged supports can be easily seen and quickly remedied. The problem is, not all factors which contribute to balconies’ collapsing are easily visible.
Protecting Yourself and Your Property from Risk of Collapse
One of the things that often make it difficult for property owners to prevent balconies from collapsing is the sheer number of factors which can lead to a collapse. Dry or wet rot, moisture and pest damage to timbers, corroding concrete and metal fixings, coastal air conditions and overloading can all contribute to or independently cause balconies to weaken and eventually collapse.
In order to protect yourself, your visitors, tenants and your real estate investment from damage, injury and tragedy, it’s absolutely vital to keep decks and balconies in good repair. This means getting structures checked by using a reputable building inspection company, and then actively working: to prevent timber pest activity; keeping an eye out for any warning signs of potential damage to the structure; and ensuring proper drainage to avoid rot.
These service providers do not offer repair services and have no financial stake in the findings of a report, so there’s no chance for conflict of interest. A qualified building inspector will look for signs of an increased risk of collapse, thus equipping you with the information you need to keep your balconies and decks safe, secure and structurally sound and ensuring they comply with building regulations. For example, timber handrails and balusters can rot or may not comply with new safety standards. Now, they must 1metre high and balusters no wider than 125mm apart (so a child can’t squeeze their head through). An inspector can advise on whether your structures need work in order to meet improved safety requirements, and reduce your risk as an owner.
So, don’t allow yourself to be responsible for injury to visitors on your property, or be held liable for damages as a result of a balcony collapse. Make sure your balconies and decking are inspected by a professional and given a clean bill of health before allowing people on it, and keep loads manageable. Remember, even balconies or decks in good repair can collapse if they’re overloaded by too many people and too much weight.