Up to 12,000 decks across Australia are at risk of collapse, according to a recent estimate from Archicentre, a subsidiary of the Australian Institute of Architects (www.abcnews.com.au ). This report follows the death of a baby boy this March in Niagara Park, NSW, when a sheet iron balustrade gave way, causing the mother and baby to fall 6 metres onto the concrete below. In 2010, a seven-week-old baby girl died in Queensland, when a father’s foot went through a rotten veranda causing him to lose hold of her. More recently, five people were injured in Lancelin on the bank holiday weekend, when a balcony collapsed and they fell 3 meters to the ground.
Archicentre Queensland are calling for tighter regulations on balconies, verandas and decks; including regular inspections similiar to regulations surrounding swimming pools. Cr Aspinall, Shire of Gingin, believes that it is the property owners' responsibility to ensure a balcony is structurally sound, and enforcing regular inspections would only put added pressure on councils. Professor Kimble, Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, suggested a maximum load rating on all balconies, similiar to that present in national parks etc.
Balconies at risk of collapse are either caused by shoddy workmanship or old structures that haven’t been properly maintained. Choosing a reputable contractor for both the balcony and the balustrade is, therefore, very important, as there are stringent Australian Standards and BCA codes that need to be met. Even if a balcony/balustrade complies with the BCA codes at time of construction, some materials such as timber, deteriorate and weaken over time and with varying climate conditions. These materials require regular maintenance and checking to ensure safety. If you think your balustrade is structurally unsafe and needs replacing contact us for a free on-site consultation and quote.