Check The Deck Before The Party Archtects Warn On Balconies

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3rd December 2009, 09:27am - Views: 715

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Media Enquiries:

David Hallett, Victorian State Manager Archicentre (03) 9819 4577 

Mobile: 0439 439 115

Ron Smith Corporate Media Communications Archicentre Mobile: 0417 329 201 

Media Release

December 3rd  2009

Check the Deck Before the Party  

Check the deck before you have a party this holiday season is the message from Archicentre, the

building advisory service of the Australian Institute of Architects.  

The warning follows the collapse of a balcony last night in Lorne where a railing gave way with three

people falling and being injured . A number of incidents over the past twelve months where deck

and balcony collapses have been responsible for deaths and serious injuries.      

David Hallett, Victorian State Manager of Archicentre said during the festive season many decks are often

loaded with groups of people, which can result in serious injury or death if the deck collapses. 

“Often a deck is just used by one person for a leisurely daily cup of tea in the sunshine.  The decks

structural integrity has never been tested with any significant weight. But come the festive season when

family, extended relatives and friends visit, this same deck can become a deadly hazard under the extra 


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 ( 8000) are potentially fatal. 

At a recent Coroners’ Court case in Brisbane questions were asked as to who is at fault when a

balcony collapses? The builder, the building inspector, the pest inspector, the engineer, the former

owner, or the current owner? And importantly what is the tipping point for a collapse?

Archicentre stresses 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.”  

“As a safety measure, all homeowners should thoroughly check the timbers, fixings and structure that

support and attach the deck to the home, and check the bracing members and support beams of the deck,

timber posts and steel columns looking for soft, spongy sections of compressed timber and rusting steel. If

doubts still linger, it is best to arrange a professional inspection. 

“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.”  

“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.”    

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