Legal Battle Over a Sagging Balcony

I wrote a post recently about how to prevent a balcony collapse. I had said how lots of times building owners will cut costs by not always fixing balconies when they should, or contractors who do the work will cut corners. This is all pretty crappy news for the poor dude who goes out on a balcony and it collapses underneath him.

A couple of you pointed out in the comments that cutting costs on repairing a damaged/old balcony is incredibly stupid because of the lawsuits that could come after the thing collapses — not to mention that people could die. I couldn’t agree more.

And now I’ve got a concrete example for you of how a balcony that needs repair doesn’t get fixed.

Sagging Balcony

Hard to tell in the picture, but this balcony is sagging, sinking, and shifting…only a matter of time before it collapses.

A guy owns a townhouse and has a second floor balcony. Below his balcony is the porch of a family with kids (owners of a different unit). In the yard beyond where you can see in the photo, is a little pond that someone put in. That pond is close enough to the townhouse that the pond water is making the soil loose. The loose soil has caused the footings from the balcony to shift and sink. They’re still sinking and shifting to this day.

The shifting and sinking footings is causing the balcony to sag and sink lower and lower (non-symmetrically, too). The family with kids underneath is concerned that the sagging balcony is going to collapse sometime — and they’re right.

But here’s the problem. The townhouses are all part of a homeowners association. So it has been legally decided that the balcony must be fixed (which is how our company is involved), but it’s still up in the air who will pay for it.

The guy thinks that the homeowner’s association should pay for it, and the homeowner’s association says that in the contract it states that he has to pay for it. In the meantime, we’re not allowed to touch it and fix it. So it can’t even be fixed and have the bill disputed, it just has to sit in sagging disrepair.

Meanwhile, a family with kids is below, using their porch and backyard. And that sagging balcony will fall if it’s not fixed.

No one wants to pay anything, but have no problem risking the lives of kids over a couple grand.


Kids really get the short end of the stick sometimes, don’t they?


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Legal Battle Over a Sagging Balcony — 24 Comments

  1. That’s disgusting that a legal dispute would extend the risk to the kids below that balcony. This is a case where the homeowner’s association should cover the costs for now and then try to recoup the costs afterwards. If it really is written into the contract that the guy should pay for it, he’s a real douche for fighting it.
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    • Couldn’t agree more — it’s ridiculous to me that we’re not doing the work yet! An outstanding bill is better to have sittting around than a collapsed balcony and dead children!! I don’t know what is actually in the contract so I’m not sure about the douche level of the guy, but this is something that I think should be settled immediately. Figure it out, people! Share the cost or get some random lawyer to look at it and make a judgement call outside of the courtroom…just do something, now!

    • I agree entirely, man. If people would just look at the bigger picture sometimes, we’d all be better off! I really hope they figure it out soon before that balcony gives…or if they don’t figure it out soon, I hope that balcony falls when everyone is at work/school.

    • I thought about that, too. Great minds think alike, lol. I’d lock that patio door and tell my kids that the square of concrete that makes up the patio is completely off limits. No one is allowed to put even a toe on it. If you want to play in the backyard, you got to go around through the front door!

  2. I had a similar problem when I lived in a Condo and the association paid for the fixes. Funny thing about that, if you were on the “board” you always had your issue fixed – if not, you were always waiting for the money to come “available”.

    I guess this is a sad part of life we always have to deal with… I hope nothing terrible happens for this family.
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  4. Honest to gawd, you have to wonder about people, don’t you?

    Ya know, it doesn’t matter who in the downstairs family that lash-up falls on, the kids are going to be harmed. If Dad or Mom gets brained or killed, the kids will lose a parent and a breadwinner.

    My daughter-in-sin, a registered nurse who was (once) earning quite a nice income to support her four children, fell through a decayed balcony that the landlord was ignoring. Walloped her head on a beam as she crashed through to the pavement below. Brain damage. She’s permanently disabled. This happened several years ago. She’s never been able to go back to work.

    The lawsuit is still going on. The landlord declared bankruptcy within days after the incident. Seems pretty unlikely that she’ll collect.
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  6. Regardless of who ends up paying for it, if I lived in either one of those units I’d be smart and not use that area until it was fixed. An accident is totally avoidable (though it may be inconvenient for the tenants, inconvenience is ALWAYS preferable to death or serious injury!).

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