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New Regulations Discussed in California After Wood Balcony Collapse

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This past June, a crowded fifth-floor balcony broke off an apartment building in Berkeley, CA, during a birthday party, spilling 13 people 50 feet onto the pavement below. In addition to the six killed, seven were seriously hurt. Normally, any building material – wood, steel or concrete – that will be exposed to the elements requires weatherproofing of exposed elements such as balconies. However, "that wood was decayed or had some serious deterioration to the point was coming off in chunks in their hands," said Darrick Hom, president of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California after visiting the site of the collapse.

New regulations approved by Berkeley city legislators after the tragedy have placed stricter regulations on building materials (naturally water-resistant wood, or corrosion-resistant materials) as well as design and inspections (read more). At the same time, California lawmakers rejected a bill Tuesday (SB465) which would have required contractors to disclose to their regulator — the Contractors State License Board — any past felonies or lawsuits alleging defects, negligence or fraud.

NRMCA has been promoting the inherent qualities of concrete, including moisture resistance, strength and fire-resistance. In addition to its excellent structural properties, concrete's environmental friendly features throughout the building’s life cycle makes it the most preferred construction material. Unfortunately, for nearly decade, the softwood lumber industry has been eroding ready mixed concrete’s market share in mid-rise apartment buildings. With the growing interest from the design and code community and demand for housing, there will be more tall wood structures built at a rapid pace instead of concrete. It is necessary for the industry to position itself through education, marketing and direct design assistance to demonstrate concrete’s benefits.

For more information on how you can better understand NRMCA's promotion efforts in the buildings sector, contact Tien Peng at 206-913-8535 or

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Fritz-Pak Corporation
Putzmeister America, Inc.
Xypex Chemical Corp
McNeilus Truck & Manufacturing, Inc.
True Dispatch
Lehigh Hanson
Naylor Association Solutions
900 Spring Street
Silver Spring, MD, 20910
Phone: 301-587-1400 Toll Free: 888-84 NRMCA (846-7622)