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Question DetailsAsked on 10/8/2014

Can a roof be added to a 5x11 balcony without adding extra supports?

The balcony is attached to the brick house on one side and supported by a wood pillar going down the a lower deck on a third side, with a triangle piece attached to the house on the fourth side. It used to have an awning screwed into the brick mortar but that came lose and fell down. With new awnings being so expensive I got a quote to add a roof to the balcony, but some people are telling me while contractors will build it, the balcony wasn't designed to support a roof and will have problems later.

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In most areas, putting a roof over a balcony (or anything else) will stamped require plans from an architect or structural engineer to be able to get a building permit - and the first step by that designer will be to evaluate loads from the new roof (and any snow/wind load) and then figure if the balcony need additional support to carry it. In all probability it will, because by code both the balcony and the roof will have to have snow load figured for them (though depending on configuration the balcony snow load will go down somewhat because of the roof over it intercepting some of the snow), so if you are in an area that requires a design snowload it will probably need some more support. IF you haveno design snowload, then existing supports might handle it - but requires design expertise to evaluate that.


Since you say the balcony is supported along the wall on one side, a single post on one side (probably the free corner ?), and a "triangle piece" attached to house on third side (a bolted-in metal support plate in lieu of a post ?), in all probability additional support will be needed for the roof, because those connectors were undoubtedly designed only for the balcony load, not additional roof load.


Easy but not only solution - attach the roof to the house on one side (presumably same side as the balcony is attached to) and then support it on columns running down through or next to the lower deck - for an 11 foot width (assuming that is the width, not the depth of the balcony) 2 or 3 columns should be able to handle it easily - could be from 4x4 on up to maybe 6x8 in dimension (or equivalent strength in architectural decorative columns or steel) depending on design load and if using 2 or 3 (or mnore) columns, and easy to build. Concrete piers in the ground typically 3-5 feet deep with column brackets embedded in the concrete to anchor the bottom of the posts, properly sized moment-connection brackets where the posts meet a beam (or beam with sway bracing) across the top to carry the rafters, and you are ready to go.


Pay some attention to the number and of columns issue - there are many decorative ways to handle columns which can enhance the appearance of the house significantly - goole this search phrase for ideas and examples - images for deck columns


Cost depends an awful lot on your exact snow loads and roof type and how you will have to interface with the deck below as well as ifyou go decorative with the columns and such, but I would think basic wood columns to carry the leading edge of the rafters would run a additional (when done along with new roof framing) $800-1500 in the normal case for a 2nd story balcony - likely quite a bit more if this is a third story balcony.


Engineer/architect should be able to help you with cost comparison of complete roof with column supports cost versus awning. Personally, I would be surprised if an awning were not cheaper - just a matter of correctly anchoring it to the wall this time, because that size awning should not have just been "screwed into the wall" - it should have had lag bolted anchor plates or an anchoring ledger board (bolted-in support board like ones that support the house edge of decks) that the awning would then be fastened to. Sounds like in your case they tried to use just expansion anchors in the brick rather than tying into the full structural strength of the wall. If your wall is solid brick rather than brick veneer over studs, then commonly you would need a triangular support system for the awning - instead of cantilevering it out from the wall (which puts a lot of outward force on the wall at the back edges of the awning) - commonly you use a triangular frame supporting the awning so the pullout force at the wall is reduced and is distributed over a larger area of wall and more fasteners.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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