VERTEX has Experts that Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk.

Unlike others, VERTEX provides forensic consulting alongside traditional AEC services which allows for a 360 degree view of your project.

VERTEX Services


Need an expert for your case?

Our forensics experts work alongside AEC specialists which enhances our skills and bolsters the credibility of our expert consultants.

Find an Expert


VERTEX delivers innovative solutions on complex projects globally.

Since 1995, VERTEX has completed over 90,000 projects.

View Portfolio


VERTEX believes in a Lifetime of Learning philosophy.

Stay current with our industry experts as they share their insights and knowledge on the built environment.

View Insights

Grow Your Career

Join Our Team

VERTEX is looking for talented individuals to join a highly technical team of forensic consultants, design engineers, construction managers, and environmental scientists.

Learn More

Contact Us

Have a question or want to speak with a technical professional?

VERTEX is a multi-discipline firm with global coverage. Our international network of resources enables us to provide multi-national clients with the most qualified local professionals who understand the culture, language, and regulatory framework.

Call Us: 888.298.5162

Call Us

Call us at 888.298.5162.

California Balcony Regulations

The Danger of Wood-Framed Cantilevered Balconies: Part 1

February 7, 2017

A few of my recent construction defect cases have impressed me with just how dangerous wood-framed cantilevered balconies can be.

What makes these wood-frame balconies so dangerous? 

Quite simply, wood can fail without warning. By contrast, with concrete or steel structures, deflection is generally observable as the deck begins to fail, providing a warning that something is wrong and allowing time for corrective action. With wood, you often will not know anything is wrong until it’s too late. 

Here is what is happening: The mode of failure on wood-framed cantilevered balconies is usually a result of water intrusion at the deck-to-wall transition, which generally includes the door threshold. This area is clearly the most complicated intersection of materials on a typical deck construction. The water intrusion typically makes its way into the sheeting at breeches in the sheet metal flashing and deck waterproofing. Deck sheeting, usually consisting of plywood or Oriented Strand Board (OSB), holds moisture in contact with the top of the wood structural joists, with rot starting at the top of the joist and working its way down into the cross-section of the joist, adjacent to the outer wall of the structure. The mode of failure that I have outlined just happens to occur at the exact location where the most critical structural members (the joists) have the most structural load (the top cord).  

Failure of these joists usually occurs abruptly, and on cantilevered balconies, there is no secondary system to pick up the load when they do fail. Unfortunately, failure can be fatal when the cantilevered deck drops like a hinged trapdoor under the load of people standing on the deck.

How do we avoid these disasters in the future? 

In part two of this series, we will look at regulation changes coming and focus on simple yet effective solutions for avoiding catastrophe. 

To learn more about inspections of wood-framed cantilevered balconies and VERTEX’s other quality assurance and inspection services, visit our service pages.

To learn more about VERTEX’s Balcony Assurance service or to speak with a Construction Expert, call 888.298.5162 or submit an inquiry.

This article was originally published by Xpera Group which is now part of The Vertex Companies, LLC.

Balcony Assurance Expert

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Learn More

Back to Insights