Common Balcony issues and how to notice them

By
Home Inspector with Elliott Home Inspection

I would like to illustrate some of the common issues I find when inspecting balconies so that you have an idea what you may be concerned with.

I love balconies here in town because we have so many high rise condos with absolutly wonderful views.

Beautiful balcony view

OK lets get started.

Balusters should have no more than a 4 inch gap the same as with a stairway and there should not be any type of pattern such as out of cast iron that would allow for chidrdren to climb up and fall over the guardrail.

 

Try not to leave anything climable near the guard rails either.They should be at least 36 inches tall by the way.

 

I do not recommend my clients try this but the guardrail should also support 200 lbs of pull.

 

Many balconies have glass panels and these should be made of tempered safety glass.

Look in lower corners for a sticker also known as a bug.

Glass panel on balcony

Check guardrail fastners and connections for any that might be missing or not secured properly and remember any openings in exterior wall covering can cause water intrusion issues.

missing fastener connection for balcony guardrail

The above includes possible openings left by light fixtures or electrical outlets which of course need to be GFCI protected so you are not harmed and shoud at the least have spring loaded covers on a weather proof box.

Many balconies are either cantilevered making them appear to float in air or have turnbuckles attached to the wall at each side above and may also have diaginal bracing from below.

If the decking is say concrete or any solid surface it is important that it be angled at least 1/4 inch per foot to the outside for rain runoff unless there is an internel drain.                                                                                                                                                                                

Standing water on balcony

 

 

 

 

 Stain from standing water on balcony above

 

 

 

 

 

 

While outside you may also wish to check the exterior wall and see if you observe any issues.

 

 

 

 

 

bad window gasket

 

Be sure to check the entrance door also for any obvious issues such as a bad door frame ,window seals gaskets,trip hazards,etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What really gets me is when some developers put in a balcony door with no door closer or door stop that prevent the handle from shatering a $1,000 peice of glass.I have found this at to many new downtown high rises in Chicago during my inspection process.

Balcony door handle

 

 

 

 

I will add some more later if I think of anything that might help a buyer on initial walkthrough.

 

 

 

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Topic:
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Location:
Illinois Cook County Chicago
Tags:
balcony
safety
inspection
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Rainmaker
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Tim Lorenz
TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team - Mission Viejo, CA
949 874-2247

Thanks for the safety tips and I will look for them before the inspection.

Mar 02, 2011 01:50 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

No problem Tim.

I will try and edit in some more when I have time but my webhost and report software guy named Dominic Maricic came in to town and gave a 8 hour lecture on SEO over this last weekend, so I need to go do some work on what he taught.

You know how the market is right now,so we all need as much help as we can get however Active Rain is and has been one of my favorite spots to blog.

Mar 02, 2011 02:15 AM #2
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Howdy and morning to you Bob

Bob, you sure have done a mighty fine job of covering the common balcony issues folks can run into. I have not gotten to do any inspections in high rises since moving up to this here area.

Have a good one
Dale in New Hampshire  

Mar 02, 2011 02:16 AM #3
Rainmaker
74,451
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Hey ,Howdy Dale you just caught me adding a few sentences but I need some shuteye for a Ranch style Bungalow in the morning.

I thank G-d to still be getting work this time of year.Always happy to see you.

Mar 02, 2011 02:21 AM #4
Rainmaker
588,876
Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips - Eureka, CA
Realtor and Broker/Owner

Hi Bob, thanks for your input on balcony inspections, they are a critical issue no matter if they are 10 feet off the ground or 300.

Mar 02, 2011 06:28 AM #5
Rainmaker
74,451
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Right you are Dan.

Sure it would be hard for even myself to really know how safe something like a designed cantilever balcony is since support is hidden from sight but there are items like what I have listed above that a buyer can notice on first look.

Mar 03, 2011 10:21 PM #6
Rainer
25,529
Jim Keilson
Maryland Home Inspection Services, Inc. - Gaithersburg, MD

Great post Bob.  I did an Inspection not to long ago and while I was there the buyers 5 year old was jumping through the balusters on the basement stairs.  The seller got mad at me for calling these out as he stated they were just rebuilt..haha  sad but true.http://www.marylandhomeinspectionservices.com/images/Hall-of-shame/100_1137.jpg

Mar 04, 2011 04:17 PM #7
Rainmaker
74,451
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Jim try and repost the image if you can as a link or directly.

I saw the image however and yes it is easy to see some kid sliding down and whacking his chin on those treads.

Mar 04, 2011 05:22 PM #8
Rainer
25,529
Jim Keilson
Maryland Home Inspection Services, Inc. - Gaithersburg, MD

OOPS..my bad,   Bad Bad Bad

 

Mar 04, 2011 09:26 PM #9
Rainer
639,033
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Bob: No hi-rise inspections for me in my area. For regular balcony inspections I always pay special attention to anything that has to do with an outside balcony; so many are poorly constructed.

Your first photo is great - what a view.

Mar 04, 2011 10:23 PM #10
Rainmaker
74,451
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

Hi Carl and hello to the lovely lady at your side in the picture.

Yes that is one of my favorites just because it has different styles and eras of construction in it and any excuse to share my hi rise shots is used with no aplogies.

That is Trump Tower in the back looking tall.

Mar 04, 2011 10:38 PM #11
Rainer
639,033
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Bob: When I worked for Swift & Co. years ago they were headquartered in Chicago; haven't been there since they sold to Con-Agra. I wondered what that tall tower was in the background. Beautiful views I bet from the top of theTrump Tower.

Ceil says thanks for the compliment coming up on the Big 50th Anniversary.

May 10, 2011 08:13 PM #12
Rainmaker
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Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection

I think that is Trump tower ,but my favorite and favorite of most Chicagoans is the John Hancock Building.

A very big congratulations to both of you as the most perfect couple on Active Rain.

May 10, 2011 08:41 PM #13
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Bob Elliott

Chicago Property Inspection
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