Although balcony calamities are rare, they usually end traumatically. Tuesday June 16, 2015, a birthday celebration quickly turned into a tragedy when a balcony collapsed in apartments near the University of California, Berkley. Thirteen students were thrown fifty feet from the air onto the pavement below. Six students lost their lives that night and seven are fighting to survive. Investigators believe that the collective weight of the thirteen victims overpowered the balcony. Others believe that there was a defect in the design of the balcony allowing rain to damage the supporting wood over the years. The firm that built the apartments has been sued before for similar mishaps in a different project. They are likely to be sued again.
It is not uncommon for construction companies to build hastily to minimize expenses or to meet deadlines. In this haste, some much needed details are overlooked. Additionally, poor site preparation, errors in design, and negligent construction can all result in construction defects. Due to this lack of care, many people are endangered and some lose their lives.
Construction defects include but are not limited to the following:
• Improper construction of decks, roofs, and balconies;
• Water seepage;
• Slab leaks or cracks;
• Termite infestation;
• Faulty electrical wiring;
• Improper fireproofing; and
• Improper window or door installation.
Property owners are responsible for ensuring that balconies and guard railings are regularly maintained. When people are harmed due to the improper upkeep of a structure, the property owner can be held financially liable for the injuries.