Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects has issued a deadly warning on the state of Australia’s balconies and decks following another collapse injuring twelve people at Hurstbridge in the north of Melbourne on Saturday night.
General Manager of Archicentre David Hallett said that as a safety measure, all homeowners should carefully check the support beams and posts looking for soft, spongy sections of compressed timber.
“Apart from the possible injury or death to family members or friends, home owners would be foolish to ignore the legal liability and damages claims which could arise from a collapsing deck which is proven to be in poor repair.” Archicentre’s pre-purchase home inspection statistics show that approximately 6% of Australian homes have a timber balcony or deck and that about 2% of these are potentially fatal. Mr Hallett said, “These figures indicate around 8,000 balconies in Australia could be life threatening and there is a need for people to inspect their decks and balconies for rotting timbers and rusty corroding steel fittings which could lead to life threatening balcony collapses.
“In the last few years, balcony collapses in several states have resulted in a number of injuries and deaths with coastal properties in the high risk categories because of the harsh environment and salt damage to metal fittings.” Mr Hallett said that the balcony and timber deck has become a major part of Australia’s domestic scene as people love to enjoy the outdoors and add extra living space to their homes with a view. “However, many of the timber decks of the sixties and seventies were built illegally with inappropriate timber and were rotting and becoming unsafe, especially with extra weight being placed on them. The dinner or party where people gather on the balcony for a drink or a barbeque are high risk activities.” Mr. Hallett said we urge everyone with a balcony or raised deck, whether it’s timber, concrete or features steel supports, to check it out carefully for safety, including an inspection for rotting timbers, shaky hand rails and balustrades, rusting bolts and brackets, rust stains and cracking in concrete balconies. “If people find faults they should take immediate action to repair them and if they are not sure to seek professional advice. “Many home owners often decide to build a balcony themselves and we are urging them to ensure that they obtain council building approval.”
How to look out for a Balcony Collapse
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David Hallett, General Manager Archicentre (03) 9819 4577 Mobile: 0439 439 115
Ron Smith Corporate Media Communications (03) 9818 5700 Mobile: 0417 329 201
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