Homeowner Safety Check - Balconies

Colac Otway Shire Council are asking homeowners to regularly check and maintain any balconies at their properties.

Balconies can be a serious safety risk if not properly built and looked after.

Owners are asked to look for signs of wear and tear, there are many things that can affect the structural integrity of a balcony, deck or balustrade, such as overloading, termites, wet rot and corrosion.

A correctly designed and maintained balcony should take these risk factors into account, but Council are asking owners and tenants to carry out visual inspections yearly to protect themselves and their guests.

Simple things such as the re-tensioning of wire balustrades, and treating signs of corrosion, can greatly improve the long term safety of balustrades.

Groups of people and heavy items such as large pot plants or barbecues can provide additional loads for a balcony to support – which the balcony may not have been designed to accommodate. Overloading and poor maintenance could result in collapse and tragedy.

Homeowners should consult the original loading specifications if they have access to them or have a structural engineer or registered building practitioner conduct an assessment.

Warning signs to check for include:

- puddles of water at the base of posts

- puddles of water on the deck or balcony surface

- rotting or loose balustrades and loose or rusted brackets and bolts

- cracked concrete or signs of leaning

- cracked or weak mortar in brick structures

- dislodged brickwork/masonry.

Most well-maintained timber balconies should last for around 20 years, and a well-maintained concrete balcony should last for 40 to 50 years.