Faithorn Farrell Timms LLP

Condition Survey of Balcony Railings for Dartford Borough Council

the project

Faithorn Farrell Timms were commissioned by Dartford Borough Council to undertake a condition survey of the balcony railings across a selection of their residential housing blocks. This was due to our clients concerns that some of the balustrades appeared to be in poor condition.  Our clients objective was to ensure the health and safety of the residents and visitors to the housing blocks. 

FFT undertook the survey and also engaged structural engineering input as it was determined during the inspection that a number of the railings and stanchions, both in communal areas and the private balconies, were in poor condition.  

It was also decided that we should improve the aesthetics of the blocks, therefore, we set out a range of options for our clients consideration, culminating in a contemporary powder coated steel panel, which served as an effective balcony barrier and also modernized the elevations of the blocks.

Our Role

FFT provided Contract Administration, Building Surveying and structural engineering services to determine the strength of the existing railings through pull tests.

We acted as Quantity Surveyors, ensuring the budget, tendered values, interim applications and cash flow forecast were accurate and represented value for money. 

We provided a measured survey service, preparing the existing and proposed elevations and also managed the Planning Application, which was successfully approved.

Working with balconies posed health and safety risks, therefore we also provided Principal Designer services under the CDM 2015 Regulations, ensuring that we had a robust pre-construction health and safety plan.  We compliance checked the contractors health and safety plan and ensured that all risks were mitigated. 

the challenges

  • The residents had over-extended their chattels to their private balconies.  This caused challenges in effectively accessing these areas.
  • The condition of the existing balcony structure was poor and, in some instances, likely to be dangerous in the near future. The corrosion at the foot of some of the stanchions gave cause for concern. 
  • The choice of materials was also a challenge as we needed to identify a material that can withstand impact, could not be climbed by young children, hard wearing, economical and weather-proof.

the solution

We liaised closely with both our client and the residents prior to the works starting to explain the process of the works and the reason for the selection of material.

The residents were consulted on design and we demonstrated how the changes would improve the look of the block. We also discussed access and the necessity to have a clear route to the private balconies.

Our structural engineer took a pragmatic approach with the remedial works to the balcony screen frame and proposed re-welding where there was corrosion.

added value

The selection of the correct panels involved a considerable degree of research and material inspection. We went beyond our client's brief by introducing a pilot phase and having samples manufactured to ensure that we were choosing the correct material and design.