My children are already older and I don’t have to worry about them fitting in between the balcony railings. However, every time I inspect a property with guardrails that a small child can simply walk through or climb up, I get goose bumps.
Remember to inspect balcony railing periodically – it’s an important house maintenance schedule item!
Many associations / management companies responsible for older multi-unit condominium buildings and townhouses with balconies on upper floors have never upgraded them to comply with the current balcony railing safety code / standards.
Money is probably one of the issues; ignorance must be the other … until the accident happens. You can try to fight the association, but depending on their budget and local building code (some jurisdictions grandfather old railings despite their safety compliance problems), and this might not get you anywhere.
Upgrading the balcony railing on your own is usually out of the question – simply because one of the rules in such communities is that you cannot change the exterior appearance of the structure.
So here are some options to improve your balcony railing safety:
Depending on your balcony railing type and design, you can secure it by drilling small holes in a Plexiglas sheet that correspond to the railing components and using plastic wire ties.
Elevated walkways, balcony and stairs with open sides railing / guardrail requirements (the most important ones / might slightly vary between jurisdiction):
Exception: For single-family and two-family dwellings, and within individual dwelling units in other Class A-2 occupancies which are primarily permanent in nature, guards whose top rail also serves as a handrail shall have a height of not less than 34 inches and not more than 38 inches
On top of the above items:
Get a measuring tape and if there is a problem – do something about it!
This article was written by Dariusz Rudnicki
I'm a retired Illinois home inspector, founder and editor of checkthishouse.com, a blog which attracts around 2 thousand readers daily and is dedicated to answering the many questions of home owners and home buyers. Connect with me on Google+ Find me on Google+ Local