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Tuesday 14 August 2018

'Don't step on them' - Apartment owners in Dublin estate told balconies 'unsafe'

  • Management company sent email warning of 'deterioration'
  • Tenants told balconies unsafe until 'further notice'
  • One resident said his foot went through balcony
General view of decaying balconies in apartment block, cladding having been removed for inspection. Hunters Wood estate, Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
General view of decaying balconies in apartment block, cladding having been removed for inspection. Hunters Wood estate, Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Ryan Nugent and Conor Feehan

APARTMENT owners on a large Dublin estate have been warned not to go out on their balconies because they are “unsafe to use”, Independent.ie can reveal.

In an email sent on behalf of the management of the south Dublin development, the owners were told of a “deterioration” to some of the balconies.

The email was issued on behalf of Hunterswood Management for the Hunterswood estate in Ballycullen, Dublin 24.

The letter was sent yesterday “as a matter of urgency”, after an engineering company found that balconies were “unsafe until further notice”.

General view of decaying balconies in apartment block, cladding having been removed for inspection. Hunters Wood estate, Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
General view of decaying balconies in apartment block, cladding having been removed for inspection. Hunters Wood estate, Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Work began at the start of the year on the balconies of more than 20 apartments at the complex.

At some of the apartments, the decking boards appear to have rotted through.

A representative of Keenan Property Management (KPM) – writing on behalf of Hunterswood Management – said it was notified of the issue on Wednesday afternoon.

Owners who leased any of the properties were told to notify their tenants, particularly during the current heatwave.

The board at Hunterswood Management CLG is due to meet “imminently” to rectify the situation, the email said.

“I am writing to you on behalf of the board at Hunterswood as a matter of urgency. It was brought to our attention this afternoon by the engineering company 2HQ that your balcony is unsafe to use until further notice,” the email said.

General view of decaying wood on balcony in apartment block in Hunters Wood estate, Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
General view of decaying wood on balcony in apartment block in Hunters Wood estate, Ballycullen, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

“Having recently reassessed the balconies, the engineering company have recognised that your balcony has deteriorated faster than initially expected.

“The board are meeting imminently to put in place an immediate plan of works and you will be updated on this process.”

It is understood that TK Building Services began work on the balconies of 21 apartments in January.

The company is understood to be three-quarters of the way through fixing the balconies, with the wood-based structures being replaced by steel-framed ones.

One resident said he knew there was a problem with the balconies when he went out on his recently and his foot went through.

The man said residents had received a letter around two years ago saying inspections would be carried out on them, but everything happened slowly until they were sent a letter and an email this week telling them not to use their balconies.

“We got the first letter around two years ago. I’m not sure what prompted it, but it said inspections would be carried out,” he told the Herald.

“Then someone came and carried out some sort of rudimentary inspection and went away again.

“There was no word for another six months or so and then there was a letter outlining how there were three categories of wear or degrading, and mine was in as category C or 3, which was least affected.

“But then I got the letter and email the other day saying not to use the balcony.

“It didn’t surprise me because my foot went through it a while ago when I stepped out on it.”

Around Hunterswood, which was built in the early 2000s and is located in the foothills of the Dublin mountains with city views, the damage to the affected balconies is evident.

Many have had their cladding removed to expose the support timbers, which are water stained.

But above them the decking boards on some have rotted through.

On other buildings at the development the balconies have already been removed from the apartments, and the patio doors leading out onto them have been blocked with wooden planks to prevent residents from opening them.

In another part of the estate new metal balconies have been erected, while neighbouring properties have had their balconies supported by temporary metal poles until work is completed.

In a builder’s compound nearby old timber can be seen stacked waiting for disposal while new metal balcony frames are stacked beside it.

There are also decking planks made from a composite material which does not rot over time, which are likely to be placed onto the new metal frames.

Independent.ie made a number of requests for KPM to provide a response on behalf of Hunterswood Management, but none was forthcoming at the time of going to print.

Later this month marks the third anniversary of the Berkeley balcony disaster in which six Irish J1 students lost their lives in the Californian city.

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