Is Your Montreal Balcony Secure for Your Family?

Montreal is a city with a great many balconies, porches and back decks; and Montrealers make good use of them during the summers. Playwright David Fennario even referred to the city as “Balconville” in his play of the same name, alluding to the balcony’s central place in the city’s culture, where thousands of Montrealers retreat to escape the heat of their sun-baked homes – and often get to know their neighbours better at the same time.

But when homeowners make the mistake of taking these spaces for granted, it sometimes leads to tragedy. Sensational structural failures make the news roughly once a year somewhere across Canada. In fact, there were two balcony collapses in the Montreal area last year alone. Sometimes the cause is poor construction; sometimes age and neglect lead to rot and a loss of support strength. Other times, the banister gives way, leading to a nasty tumble.

The Snow Factor
In any case, Quebec winters are not typically kind to balconies, so homeowners should keep a few factors in mind. If mounds of winter snow are allowed to accumulate year after year, their weight can become a strain. And when the snow slowly melts each spring, it encourages rust and wood rot of the supports, usually worst towards their outer ends. This is particularly a problem when the space immediately underneath the balcony floor is not properly ventilated.

Most commonly found in Montreal are balconies that sit atop cantilevered supports that jut out from their anchors within the main structure. Other balconies are affixed to the side of the building, and often have support columns holding up the abutment from the ground below. These can be risky even when newly constructed if they aren’t secured very well to the building wall.

Is Your Balcony in Trouble?
Either way, the most telling sign of a compromised balcony is when the banister or railing is beginning to pull away from its moorings on the exterior wall. This is often visible well before any droop or sagging of the balcony is evident to the naked eye.

Another safety consideration is the railings. Some older constructions include railings as short as 30 inches from the balcony floor. The railing height should be about one metre, or 38 to 42 inches. Not unlike the design of baby cribs, the railing spindles need to be placed fairly close together to avoid a young child from being able to squeeze through.

Montreal balcony with horizontal railings.

Horizontal Railings

But one balcony railing comes to mind that was rather ill-considered in design (which did not stop them from building it, of course). The owners had a beautiful concept, created in the art deco style. However the railings were horizontal, and unfortunately spaced in such a way no rambunctious toddler could resist climbing them! With a potential drop of a few metres, this created a real safety hazard.

Until a home inspector pointed this out to them, they hadn’t a clue.

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Lay Chan Wee
Lay Chan Wee
01:19 31 Aug 21
I was impressed with the service provided by Rui Su. He was organized, explained in detail area that I am not familiar... with. He provided a good report. I will recommend him if you need home inspection.read more
Mary Jane Caro
Mary Jane Caro
14:25 27 Aug 21
I am always pleased to recommend Carol Mose from Mose Home Inspection Services to my clients who have had offers... accepted on residential real estate properties. She is knowledgeable, thorough, provides clear explanations, and delivers comprehensive reports.read more
Massimo Pannunzio
Massimo Pannunzio
22:05 25 Aug 21
Michael has got to be on of the best home inspectors in all of Quebec. It was amazing working with him and he had my... best interest at heart when making a life changing decision. He made sure I had all the answers and made it easy to work with him. I will be using Mose inspection for any moment that I need an inspection done that's for sure!read more
Amanda Lee
Amanda Lee
19:14 16 Jun 21
Amazing experience with Carol Mose who helped me with a pre-purchase inspection! She was very approachable and... observant, and informed me of all her first impressions on-site. This gave me greater understanding of any conditions as I was able to ask any quick questions on the spot. Her reports are the most thorough that I've seen and include diagrams to help explain what any physical signs mean and potential consequences. Could not have asked for a better inspector!read more
Maeghan Banks
Maeghan Banks
15:38 14 Jun 21
Carol was wonderful to work with for our pre-purchase inspection. She was professional, thorough and communicative,... taking the time to explain her findings as we went through the house. After the inspection, we felt we had clear knowledge of the condition of the house (both pros and cons), allowing us to move forward with the purchase with confidence. Highly recommend!read more
Ryan Chalupovitsch
Ryan Chalupovitsch
13:43 01 Jun 21
Carol Mose is the best home inspector in the business. Approachable and extremely knowledgeable. She did an... inspection for me and really took the time to explain her findings and help me understand the home I was looking to purchase. Cannot recommend her enough. Don’t hesitate.read more
Elisabeth Faure
Elisabeth Faure
21:16 29 Apr 21
This is the second time I have used MOSE, and they are always really amazing. Very nice, very professional. they came... to have a look at my roof and let me know if we were due for a repair - I was very satisfied with everything and would recommend them to anybody!read more
Hannah S
Hannah S
22:05 16 Apr 21
I had a great experience with Mose home inspection. My husband and I are first time homebuyers and so had a ton of... questions about the process. Everyone we talked with was really informative and helpful. Michael was our inspector and was phenomenal. The inspection was very thorough and he explained everything in detail with realistic next steps for us to take. We came out of the inspection feeling really informed. Plus, he is just an absolute delight! He had very contagious enthusiasm and made the inspection a really positive experience. Would highly recommend!read more
Gabriel Lukuc
Gabriel Lukuc
03:05 16 Apr 21
Michael was amazing. He took the time to explain to us what’s really important and the reasoning behind it. We’re not... very handy nor savvy when it comes to home construction so we really appreciate him taking the time to explain to us all aspects of the inspection. Also, Michael was friendly, professional and timely; he provided the report over a holiday and a weekend.read more
Stephanie Ballard
Stephanie Ballard
14:24 19 Mar 21
MOSE is the best in the business. Once again we were happy with their inspection services - they are professional,... friendly and knowledgeable. Would not hesitate to recommend to friends and family (and have)!read more
Rodrigo Morales
Rodrigo Morales
18:27 10 Sep 20
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