CROSS Safety Report
Loading on balconies
This report is over 2 years old
A reporter wrote on behalf of a professional committee to draw attention to a concern about part of a conversion project that had come to their attention.
Key Learning Outcomes
For clients and the construction team:
Cantilever balconies deserve particular attention during design and construction
If there is a significant change in use, then the current building regulations may apply to the whole building
It is good practice to discuss the changes with the client and local authority building control at an early stage
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The development is the conversion of a 19th century industrial building into a series of dwellings and includes some new external balconies. Apparently there has been some disagreement between the parties responsible for the design and construction of the development regarding the safety of the balconies.
As a result, a loading limit has been imposed upon them. It is not clear to the committee what action, if any, is being taken to determine whether the balconies fully comply with the building regulations, or if they do not, what remedial action is being either planned or implemented.
This situation seems to the committee to be far from satisfactory. However, due to the privileged nature of the information that has come into its possession the committee is not able to directly address the matter itself and is therefore reporting the matter to CROSS.
Expert Panel Comments
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Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.
Balconies always have to be treated with caution as there have been many cases around the world where there have been collapses resulting in fatalities and injuries. Often these have been because of over-loading at an event such as a party.
Another reason is that timber balconies decay over time and as they are usually cantilever structures with no redundancy, collapse can be sudden and without warning.
It is prudent to design balconies for the full imposed load that they could carry under current building regulations and discussions should be held with clients to advise them of the possible risks in not doing so. Periodic inspection of balconies and their supports during the lifetime of a building is desirable.
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