Mandatory building inspections introduced in the Californian city of Berkeley following the tragic balcony collapse in June which claimed the lives of six students and injured seven others have found that 402 properties, 18% of the total reviewed, suffer from similar structural issues to those that caused the disaster.

However, almost one third of building owners did not respond to the city government’s request requests for a review of the structural integrity of their properties meaning that the final number of effected properties could still rise. In addition to the inspections, restrictions in building design and the codification of specific materials permitted for use in environments which are likely to see a high degree of exposure to moisture have been put in place by the Berkeley City Authority in an attempt to ensure there can be no repeat of the collapse.

The events of June were described as a “wake-up call” by mayor Tom Bates, who also added that he was “shocked” at the number of properties which require urgent corrective action in order to be made safe. As was speculated when images became available in the days after the incident, dry rot caused by water saturating the balcony’s inadequately protected wooden support beams led to the collapse.

The mandatory inspections are to be made a regular occurrence due to the high risk of earthquake damage occurring to structures as a result of California’s proximity to seismically active areas.

  • Seán O’Reilly, Editor
    This article originally appeared in Volume 29, Issue 8. Published February 16th 2016.