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Re: Berkeley balcony collapse leaves 6 students dead

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I've also done a fair bit of forensic work on similar problems also. 8 or 9 years is plenty of time to rot out encapsulated joists. The stucco siding can make things far worse. For years now, I have grumbled to our local Building Dept. that we should be looking at waterproofing (even if we spent less time reviewing, observing, and certifying the structural work on residential construction). The building codes & local building departments have chosen to turn a blind eye to waterproofing issues. I would wager that water damage from poor detailing, construction, inspection, and maintenance outweighs structural failure costs in California by an order of magnitude (Billions vs. Millions). The situations is a disgrace to the industry & the problem starts with inadequate Codes.
Chuck Utzman, PE

On 6/16/2015 1:44 PM, Andrew Kester wrote:
Very sad and preventable. But they said the building was fairly new and it looked like it was newer architecture and just judging by the finishes, which makes it a bit more surprising.

I would bet this is water intrusion and decay damage more than overloading (but I reserve the right to be wrong) , even though it had what sounded
like a significant occupancy at the time .

I do a lot of forensic engineering, and have seen a lot of balconies, decks and roofs with similar water intrusion problems at the framing member to wall junction. This is especially an issue down here in Florida due to our frequent thunderstorms, wind blowing rain onto the balconies, and then the heat and humidity are a perfect environment for fungi to thrive. I know San Fran can be pretty wet also, just not as hot. But envelope and
waterproofing design there would be fairly critical in wood framed

The insidious thing about wood-framed balcony/deck deterioration, if it
occurs at the wall-balcony joint, the occupants/owners/maintenance
personnel may never know until there is a really bad problem or a failure,

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