Why Regular Balcony Inspections Are Crucial For Older Buildings

When it comes to keeping your old building in top shape, regular balcony inspections are something you can’t afford to ignore. 

You see, a balcony inspection is absolutely essential to protect the integrity of decks and balconies and ensure the overall safety of residents. Think of it as a commercial property inspection designed specifically for your balcony. 

Moreover, the DBPR HR 7020 Florida balcony inspection requirements even mandate these inspections for Public Lodging Establishments. 

Now, as a balcony inspection specialist, I’ve assessed balconies in numerous old buildings. And I can say one thing for sure, whether or not your building qualifies as a Public Lodging Establishment, it’s wise to get your balcony inspected. 

Wondering why? 

Read on, as I’ve explained why balcony inspections are non-negotiable for old structures. 

Why do old buildings need balcony inspections on a regular basis? 

While regular commercial building inspections are a given for older buildings, you might well be curious why balcony inspections are also essential. 

Well, if the estimates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission are any suggestion,  balcony failures and collapses led to over 2900 injuries across the country between 2016 and 2019. 

This shows the level of risks involved if you don’t prioritize balcony inspections and repairs, especially if your building is old. 

In fact, being a balcony inspector, I’ve seen my fair share of old buildings with balconies in dire need of maintenance and upkeep. And I can say one thing with certainty, years of exposure and deferred maintenance can wreak havoc on the sturdiest of balconies. 

So, if you’re a property owner or manager, it’s worth remembering that your balcony isn’t built to last forever. 

Now, as you might already be aware, a balcony inspection involves a thorough assessment of all balcony components including railings, fasteners, decks, attachments, and more. 

As such, it’s the perfect opportunity to hire commercial real estate inspectors and get a clear picture of all deficiencies. Also, you’ll get expert tips on how to restore and maintain your old balcony once the inspection is over. 

What are the common balcony issues found in older buildings? 

Now that you’ve seen why balcony inspections are so important for older buildings, you might ask what are the common problems encountered in such balconies. 

A short answer is, it depends on the balcony itself. That’s because from loose railings to missing fasters to a deteriorating balcony structure, there are countless issues that old balconies could be riddled with. 

Nevertheless, there are some issues that are common across aging balconies, which include the following: 

#1. Decaying and deteriorating balcony surface 

Deterioration and decay are among the most common problems with old balcony surfaces. This results from local weather conditions, moisture or water intrusion, lack of waterproofing, and shoddy construction materials or methods. 

What’s worse? 

A decaying balcony surface is a clear sign of compromised structural integrity. Meaning the balcony could collapse at any time, thus endangering lives. 

And this is exactly why I look for potential deterioration as the first order of business while conducting balcony inspections. 

#2. Corroding steel reinforcements 

Yet another problem that I often encounter while inspecting old balconies is rusting and corroding steel reinforcements. 

You see, steel starts to oxidize and expand over time, causing the concrete to crack and split. And this poses a significant safety hazard for occupants.  

For instance, I’ve come across buildings with balcony decking hanging on by a thread. 

The worst part: This deterioration happens completely out of view Meaning, you’ll have no clue unless you get a balcony inspection. 

Read also: What Do Building Inspectors Look For In Commercial Properties?

#3. Dry rot in wooden surfaces 

Balconies with wooden surfaces are not uncommon, especially in old buildings. However, wooden surfaces have their own challenges, not the least of which presents in the form of dry rot. 

A dry rot can be caused by anything from splitting as a result of moisture exposure to insect damage. And it can turn a solid-looking balcony structure into a major safety hazard in no time. 

This makes periodic inspections all the more essential since inspectors like myself look for wood damage that can make a balcony unsafe to use.

#4. Failure of balcony attachment 

A balcony attachment is simply the connection between your balcony and the main building. However, from a safety point of view, it is very crucial since it holds the balcony together and prevents it from falling apart.  

Now, the problem is balcony attachments can become prone to failure over the decades as the construction gets older and seasonal expansions and contractions show their effects. And if not fixed right in time, this can easily cause collapses. 

Curious about what building inspectors look for during a balcony inspection? 

You can read my blog on Balcony Inspection Checklist and know about everything that’s covered in an inspection. 

How can balcony inspections ensure continued safety?

As you can see, most of the problems with old balconies have to do with aging construction and lack of upkeep.  

But on the bright side, these problems can be caught early on through regular balcony inspections. Even better, a timely detection will also ensure you can fix these common issues, thus avoiding the need for expensive repairs. 

And this is exactly why I always suggest a yearly balcony and deck inspection to the owners of older buildings. After all, it’s better to spend a few hundred dollars on preventive assessment than to risk potential injuries and loss of lives. 

You might also want to read – A Commercial Building Inspection Checklist For 2024

To sum up 

Just like periodic property condition assessment reports, balcony inspections and post-inspection reports are also essential for older buildings. That’s because aging balconies can become a huge safety risk if not properly inspected and repaired on a routine basis. 

So, I cannot stress enough how essential it is to get thorough balcony inspections, at least once every year. 

Looking to get your old building’s balcony inspected? 

You can get in touch with us and receive a free balcony inspection cost estimate!

At FCBI, we are seasoned balcony inspection professionals with experience spanning over two decades. We locate the smallest of problems in balcony components and suggest optimum solutions for safety and upkeep. 

Simply put, we’ve got optimum solutions for all your balcony inspection requirements. 

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