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Balcony collapse sheds light on construction issues

Building codes are in place to help keep structures safe and secure by helping to ensure that they are properly built. A recent story out of Berkeley shows that building codes can't necessarily be universal from one place to another. Instead, these codes have to take environmental concerns into account.

The Berkeley City Council is considering amendments to the building code that would take the marine environment of the area into account. This comes on the heels of an accident that occurred on June 16. Seven people were injured and six people died when the rotten fifth-floor balcony gave way.

Some of the amendments being considered would require five-year compulsory inspections, strict standards for balconies and outdoor staircases and mandatory ventilation openings. Another proposal would require that building owners notify the tenants of a building if the balconies aren't supported by steel reinforcements.

Two companies that had done work on the balcony that collapsed in Berkeley have been sued in relation to another eerily similar complaint. The owners of a condominium complex in Millbrae claim that rot and mold destroyed their balconies in only three years.

One of the companies that was sued was the waterproofing company, and the other was the construction company. The construction company has paid out $26.5 million for construction settlements in the past. The Contractors State License Board had no knowledge of those settlements.

Construction companies must have high standards in order to ensure that structures are safe. When construction defects occur, seeking compensation for the defect is possible. In some cases, seeking compensation for personal injuries might also be something to explore.

Source: SF Gate, "Berkeley balcony collapse may lead to city building code changes," Rachel Swan, July 13, 2015

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