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Re: Berkeley Balcony Collapse

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Is your project for supporting tile on an exposed (no roof) balcony? I have
heard good things about this company's products, and I want to say an
architect friend said they have great warranties if you use a certified
installer and/or have it inspected after their system is installed (don't
quote me on that). But I think they are very pricey, but like with many
things, worth every penny.

I try to tell owners and other lay people you either pay more up front in
waterproofing, and/or use concrete or similar structural components, or pay
for it later in repairs. This works with people who plan on owning a
building for 10+ years. The local university builds everything like a
fortress, and I asked one of their project manager engineers what gives,
and he said they are designed for 150 years.

My argument falls on deaf ears to your average builder or developer because
they may be selling it right away and just care about their cost to build.
The average lay person homeowner or apartment tentant just sees the granite
counter tops, high ceilings, and nice balcony with a view, they don't even
give structural systems a thought. I see tons of problems caused by no
gutters, less than 0.5% of the cost of most homes but nobody around here
does anything but the very, very basic. We bought a house recently that was
built in 2006, in a decent neighbhorhood, and the first thing I did was add
$800 in gutters. There were erosion and drainage problems all over the
property, not to mention the structural and water intrusion potential
problems. The building department could easily require gutters and yard
drains that hook into the storm water system directly with new houses and
it would have solved many problems at our property and with my neighbors
who have similar problems. Way cheaper to do it up front, and then I don't
have to dig a 100 ft trench through $*#&$*(@  plastic clay!!!

I just did a forensic investigation on a 15 year old house this week with
an exposed balcony (no roof) and tile on a thick-mud-bed over what appeared
to be #15 or similar building paper. Finally started leaking into the
kitchen ceiling, and of course there was rot damage to several beams and
the sheathing. I told the homeowner I am surprised it lasted that long
without leaking. There are other spots where the gyp board ceiling was
showing moisture damage. Luckily he was in the construction business and
already had done his homework and new if he was doing to do it , and do it
right, it was going to be expensive. We both agreed exposed balconies with
no roofs in Florida are just not a good idea, it is too hot and wet half
the year to use anyway, even if rot damage was not an issue.

At this point I would not sign and seal a detail with wood framed and
exposed balconies unless the waterproofing details were tremendous, and
even then I would try my best to talk them into adding a roof. I don't want
that on my conscious much less my liability...

Andrew Kester, PE

On Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 1:33 PM, Chuck Utzman <chuckutzman(--nospam--at)> wrote: 

> On a related note. I asked what you guys spec for exterior plywood decks
> and got 2 responses.
> APA:
> "This email is being sent to you in response to your inquiry regarding the 
> need for pressure preservative treated plywood in outdoor decking for
> pedestrian and vehicle parking structures. As noted in the attached
> documents if the plywood is protected from moisture preservatives are not
> required. However, should the moisture protection fail the use of pressure 
> preservative treated plywood will protect the structure from decay."
> Well Duh.
> and Andrew's suggestion of Marine Grade ply--better quality core but not
> decay resistant.
> Anybody else have something?
> Chuck Utzman, PE
> On 7/30/2015 9:51 AM, Andrew Kester wrote:
>> Shocking that a developer thinks hang steel is an unnecessary expense and 

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