Balconies provide the outdoor space and fresh air so desired in residences and offices alike. They can be deadly, though, if not properly built and maintained. Even if no one gets hurt, preventing safety hazards can cost less in the long run than repairing damages. California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills in September aimed at inspection, repair, and accountability in multifamily dwellings.
One very common problem found in balconies is water intrusion. Even though it’s well known that water can lead to dry rot and structural damage, most balconies don’t have adequate drainage or ability to repel moisture. Balconies should be sloped, and redundant drainage allows for repairs when one drain is not working properly. Waterproofing can also help.
Inspections usually don’t miss much in the interior of the building, but outside areas can frequently be overlooked. The architecture consulting firm Marx|Okubo suggests a flood test of balconies before the occupants move in. After the residents or tenants move in, property owners in California may be required to inspect their balconies every three to six years, and probably should more frequently. Landlords and property management companies should also respond to tenant concerns as quickly as possible.