The onset of warmer weather means increased use of balconies and other outdoor spaces such as timber framed deck, and Archicentre Australia says it is important that regular checks be made regarding the structural integrity of external areas that are above the ground.

There are simple checks that can be made by residents but the national architect’s advisory service says if there are any concerns a structural engineer or specially trained architect should be engaged before the structure is used.

Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev says for timber balconies it is important that the correct timber has been used.

Oregon is not appropriate for external structures in this day and age – but has been widely used – even into the 1980’s and 1990’s. It is distinguishable by a broad softwood grain pattern and a pinkish colour when fresh surfaces are exposed, like during a split, for instance.

“See if there is any compression or deformation of the structural members and test the timber by probing with a sharp object like a screwdriver. Decayed timber may feel soft and spongy.

“Gain access underneath using a ladder. Check connection points at the beams with a screwdriver for deterioration as timber generally rots when two pieces join together.

“Also, examine all brackets and bolts to make sure that are not rusted.”

Peter Georgiev says residents can also make sure the balcony is properly fixed to the house, including checking that the members run into the house.

“The base of timber posts should be checked for rot while posts need to be securely anchored into the ground and not just bolted into the paving.

“Handrails and vertical balustrades should be checked to make sure they are not rotted and unstable.”

With concrete balconies, Peter Georgiev says residents should look for signs of deflection. “If the balcony leans there is a problem.

“Examine the underside of the concrete balcony. Rust stains on exposed steel reinforcing are signs of a serious problem.

“Check handrails and balustrades to make sure they are not rotted, loose or unstable.

“The presence of spalling, where chunks of concrete are flaking off, may be a serious problem and needs to be assessed by an expert.”

He says if there is anything suspicious about a balcony’s stability, the structure should be avoided until an architect is able to determine the full scale of the problem.


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This media release has been written and distributed by:

Archicentre Australia

Peter Georgiev, Director

Level 1, 9 Strathalbyn Street,

Kew East, VICTORIA, 3102

Phone: 1300 13 45 13 | 03 9859 9950