We’ve all heard the news stories about older decks on buildings collapsing and people getting hurt. Obviously, this is a situation that every building wants to avoid for a variety of reasons, from the well-being of its residents, to potential litigation issues that can destroy a building’s finances.

Here are 3 best practices for promoting deck and balcony safety:

  1. Ongoing inspections. The best way to prevent a deck or balcony accident is frequent inspections that assess the condition of these parts of the building. With a brand new building, inspections can happen more infrequently, but as the building gets older, these parts of the building should be inspected for problems on a yearly basis, at minimum.
  2. Proper maintenance. As with most other parts of building maintenance, early intervention and proactive maintenance can usually address any developing problems and keep the current decks and balconies in good condition for longer before a more extensive repair is required. Owners might bristle at a small special assessment to repair deck damage, but not nearly as much as they would at a special assessment to replace the decks entirely.
  3. Well-educated residents. In addition to having infrastructure in good working order, building residents should be encouraged to be proactive about building safety, from reporting to the property manager anything that may look like a potential problem, to not exceeding the maximum number of people per deck or balcony as outlined in their association rulebook.

The City of Chicago has some extra information on deck and balcony safety, including

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