Berkeley was the first warning with 7 dead and 6 seriously injured after a concrete topped wood frame balcony catastrophically failed, Surfside was the second warning, leaving 100+ people dead, now Horizon West Condominiums in Wisconsin is the third. All are poster children of management and BOD failures to inspect, maintain, repair & replace their buildings. Both Surfside and Horizon Wests associations knew for quite a while that there was deferred maintenance, refusal to pass special assessments to fix the deferred maintenance and then inevitable finger pointing when “it” hit the fan. On the positive side, at least Horizon didn’t collapse and no one died. On the negative side Horizon West HOA has to pull their building down as it has been condemned. That’s right the damage to steel reinforcing is so bad inside the building that it can’t be fixed.
“After inspections and the removal of unsafe balconies revealed rusted support beams, engineers sounded the alarm.” “They determined the six-story building had deteriorated to the point that it could collapse.”
There are plenty of buildings in California that have concrete balconies. Many have some type of waterproofing applied to them, with varying degrees of success. Many builders don’t feel that concrete needs to be waterproofed. The bad news is it does. Concrete is porous, it allows water to soak into the deck and when that water is in the concrete it is now attacking the metal reinforcing holding the balcony together.
While the “balcony bill” doesn’t require that balconies made of concrete have to be inspected, It is my opinion that excluding these balconies was a grave mistake. Concrete gets attacked everyday by the elements.
At William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC, we beseech our legislature to amend the balcony bill and include concrete balconies. While we are waiting for that to happen with bated breath, in the meantime we are encouraging condo boards and their management companies to get on board now with inspecting their concrete balconies.
Our structural engineer and our waterproofing experts at William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC will inspect your concrete balconies for signs of deterioration, spalling. cracking and rusting steel along with its waterproofing system to ensure that your balconies are safe. We think it’s extremely important to get ahead of the game rather than being behind. Trust me you don’t want to be that board of directors that has to announce to its membership that “due to past and present failure to inspect, maintain and repair, and prohibitive cost to fix it now, the building is condemned and everyone has to move out.”
Call me, Bill Leys, The Deck Expert, at 805-801-2380 for a fast response and quote on inspecting your concrete balconies and decks. While inspections aren’t cheap, they are certainly a lot less than paying to pull down a condemned building or defending a negligence lawsuit.