We’ve seen a lot of hype over balcony inspection vents here in California. This new product is the result of the SB 326 & SB 721 Balcony Inspection bills that were passed after the deaths of 7 young adults and severe injuries to 6 who survived the collapse of a balcony in Berkeley in 2015.
Essentially balcony inspection vents are designed to be installed in a retrofit or on new construction across the bays on a deck, most are set up with a piano hinge that allows the vent to be opened and the joists and substrate can be observed. Several other less expensive types require the vent to be pulled down after removing several screws.
I’ve had this Q & A page at JLC online on my to do list for a while now to post up here for you all…while the discussion is about drainage problems on low slope roofs, the photo they use is a deck over living space with tile on it and ponding water. And of course, decks over living space with tile or pedestrian traffic coatings on them are roofs as well, just that we walk on them too.
Frank discusses how a roof deck can pond water even when it’s “built to code” from loads placed on the deck. Recommended reading for designers, architects, builders, waterproofers and anyone interested in increasing their knowledge and skills.
Q. Can deflection of a low-slope roof cause ponding? How can this be avoided?
A. Frank Woeste, P.E., professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, responds: Historically, structural designers and builders have assumed that a design slope of 1/4 inch per foot (1:48) is sufficient to prevent ponding action, thinking that the installed roofing system will maintain at least a 1:48 slope in-service as required by some roof covering systems. However, in many cases and for different reasons, ponding on limited areas of low-slope roofs is common. That’s due to roof deflection, which over time can cause water to collect in some areas of a roof where the design slope for drainage is not adequate, and in fact changes from a “positive” drainage slope to a “negative” slope (see photo below).
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In a search today for something entirely unrelated to decks, I stumbled upon the news that a Homeowners Association in Diamond Bar CA had been red-tagged and the residents ordered to leave their homes because of deferred maintenance leading to structural concerns. The order to leave has been rescinded after the first engineers report declared the property and immediate hazard and recommended evacuating units was found to be lets say “over cautious”. There are 155 condos at the property on the first and second floors. The second floor units have balconies while first floor units have a patio.
Several structural engineers reports on the conditions found at The Village at Diamond Bar came to the conclusion that “while there are substantial deferred maintenance issues that should be addressed throughout the complex property, the condition does not create a widespread and immediate danger to the life or safety of all occupants of the individual units as previously recommended via a report by Khatri International, a structural engineer hired by the Diamond Bar Village Homeowner’s Association.“
I stumbled on this article by Rachel Miller Esq and Sarah Brown with Reserve Specialist Dennis Eckert RS PRA on CAI’s website. Here Ms. Miller and Ms. Brown discuss the balcony bill in detail and raise a very good point-that Condo’s less than 10 years old may have additional rights under SB-800. Hidden damage exposed during destructive testing may qualify as a latent defect under SB 800 and therefore repairs might be paid for by the builder.
QUESTION. Does Civil Code §5551 apply to co-ops? -Maury J.
RESPONSE: Good question. A stock cooperative is a common interest development governed by the Davis-Stirling Act. Section 5551(l) of the Civil Code states that inspections of elevated wooden structures apply to multi-family structures with three or more units. If a co-op’s buildings are multi-family structures with three or more units, it would seem to apply…