Condo balcony collapse prompts 150+ decks deemed 'unsafe'

A condominium balcony at the Falls at Hayden Run collapsed, injuring two and prompting 156 other decks to be designated at 'unsafe.' (WSYX/WTTE)

A condominium balcony broke free, fell and slammed into a car, injuring two people and it has prompted more than 150 other balconies to be considered unsafe.

Some condominium owners at the Falls at Hayden Run, a Lifestyle Community near Dublin, received a notice from the City of Columbus that explained it was unsafe to use the deck pending a structural evaluation.

Last week, the Columbus Division of Fire received an emergency call after a deck collapsed on a car along Mesa Falls Street. Neighbors said a man was visiting his daughter and they were on the deck when it failed. They were both rushed to the hospital with injuries.

City records show the condominiums were built in 2005 and 2006. The Columbus Building Department launched an investigation following the incident.

Karin Cash works as a construction professor at Columbus State Community College. She suspects it was a combination of a bad design and inadequate products that caused the collapse.

“What we have here is a failure of the ledger board to stay affixed to the building,” Cash said. “I’m used to seeing lag bolts, not nails, holding that ledger board.”

Based on the tag of the treated wood, Cash said it contains copper, which was first introduced just before the condominiums were built. Over time, builders learned the chemical doesn’t react well with iron nails or fasteners.

“The chemical could very well be eating the fasteners,” Cash said. “Look at the corrosion on this nail. I would be very concerned.”

The nails were the only thing securing the collapsed deck to the main structure. The metal fasteners and wooden posts were tasked with holding the rest of the weight.

“That’s a little nerve racking,” condo owner Joseph King said. “I just went out and noticed some nails were separating on mine.”

The City of Columbus determined 156 balconies in the condo community had a similar design, including those with lag bolts, and deemed them all unsafe.

It’s not clear if any of the decks meet code or were built to specification because the city claims it no longer has the blueprints.

Despite repeat calls and requests to speak with someone from Lifestyle Communities, ABC 6/FOX 28 Investigates has yet to get a response about the incident, design, or plan for prevention.

The city said the company has hired a structural engineer to inspect and assess the balconies to prevent another collapse.

So far, the city building department has not expanded the scope of its investigation to other condo communities with the same builder or similar designs.

Anyone living with a balcony with a similar design is advised to stay off until it can be professional inspected by an engineer.

ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates will keep pushing for more information and follow up with what will happen with these balconies in the near future.

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