Historic Preservation

Balcony, Stair, Deck & Railing Inspections (form HR7020)

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation regulates the required inspection of balconies/stairs/decks and railings open to public use. An inspection must be performed every three years and Form HR7020 must be filed. A balcony is defined as any structure more than 17 feet above grade. Ground level or near ground level decks no more than three feet high are exempt from this inspection; however, this exemption does not relieve the owner from litigation in the event of a collapse. Any stairs and railings do require inspection.

The number one cause of physical injury in each of these building appurtenances is railing failure or collapse. The number two cause of injury is structural failure of the deck ledger board due to improper construction, fastening, wood rot or metal deterioration from rust. The third cause of injury is overloading the live load capacity of the structure (too many people).

Hotels, motels, eating and drinking establishments or any business which provides an aboveground deck to its patrons, should take this inspection requirement seriously. If you own or operate or are considering acquisition, please have us evaluate these critical components. In 2010, there were over 60 deaths attributed to deck/railing collapse in the US resulting in significant litigation.

We recommend annual inspections by a competent inspector for the protection of your occupants and your business. Currently, replacement of multi-story balconies are averaging $35,000 per unit and most full replacements require additional cosmetic work at additional expense. Proper maintenance and inspection procedures will save lives and money.