13 Apr 2016

Balconies to be tested after Dunedin collapse

6:18 pm on 13 April 2016

A government investigation into the collapse of a Dunedin balcony at a student concert has recommended finding out if similar balconies are at risk.

The balcony injured six people when it collapsed.

The scene of the balcony collapse off Castle Street in Dunedin on Friday 4 March 2016. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Eighteen people were injured, two seriously, when the balcony snapped and fell during the impromptu gig five weeks ago.

After the collapse, Building Minister Nick Smith immediately ordered the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to check the building code was up to scratch for balconies.

The ministry's report has just been released and confirms there was no problem with the balcony's construction, saying it collapsed because it was not designed to hold the 18 people on it.

The ministry says there may be a problem with the design of thousands of similar balconies, but that needs more testing.

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Nick Smith says balconies are not meant as grandstands. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The balcony was supported by a row of cantilevered timber beams, that had been cut down with notches to accommodate the decking.

The report said the notch at the point at which the beams travelled into the two-storey building might weaken the beams, but it could not confirm that without further stress-testing.

The ministry said if there was a problem with the design, it might need to advise homeowners with similarly constructed balconies to seek professional design advice and guidance on remedial actions.

Dr Smith said his message to the public was that balconies were not meant as grandstands, but that they were safe as long as they had no more than two people per square metre.

The testing in the report was commissioned from the University of Auckland by MBIE.