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Check the Deck for Christmas

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Check the Deck for Christmas

December 2006

Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects has issued a deadly warning on the state of Australia’s decks calling for homeowners and investors who rent out holiday homes to check the deck.

Archicentre says the traditional Christmas functions or New Year’s Eve party where people gather on the balcony or deck for a drink or a barbeque are high risk activities on ageing balconies or decks that have not been checked for safety.

Archicentre’s pre-purchase home inspection statistics show that approximately 6 per cent of Australian homes have a timber balcony or deck and that about 2 per cent of these are potentially fatal.

Mr David Hallett, State Manager Archicentre Victoria said that the figures indicated that potentially 8000 balconies or decks around Australia could be life threatening. He said that the balcony and timber deck has become a major part of Australia's domestic scene as people love to enjoy the outdoors and add the extra living space to their homes.

“However, many of the timber decks of the sixties and seventies were built illegally with inappropriate timber and were rotting and becoming unsafe, especially with extra weight being placed on them,” said Mr Hallet.

“Holidays are also the time when many home owners decide to build a deck or balcony themselves and we are urging them to do it properly and ensure that they obtain appropriate council building approval,” he said.

Archicentre has information on the website on how to look out for a Balcony Collapse at http://www.archicentre.com.au/Balconytips.pdf

The Top Five Danger Signs with Decks and Balconies

  1. Check the support beams and posts looking for soft, spongy sections of compressed timber. If doubts still linger, it is best to arrange a professional inspection.
  2. Check the timber, concrete and steel supports where the deck is elevated from the ground.
  3. Check for shaky hand rails and balustrades, especially anchor points.
  4. Look for signs of rusting bolts and brackets.
  5. Check for rust stains and cracking in concrete balconies.

Mr Hallett said that if people find faults they should take immediate action to repair them and if they are not sure to seek professional advice.

“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 or balcony which is proven to be in poor repair.”

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