With the weather warming up and summer just beginning, I looked out at my balcony and wondered if I could put a small pool out on it for my daughter to splash around in.
We live in a fairly new apartment building that was just built 2 years ago. The balcony is made of a hard concrete-like material and feels very sturdy. However, we had some concerns.
Putting an inflatable pool on a balcony may exceed the amount of weight that the balcony is intended to hold. A typical size kid pool that holds approximately 198 gallons of water would weigh over 1,600 pounds. This may surpass what the balcony is able to hold per square foot.
The amount of weight that a balcony can hold depends on a number of factors.
What Factors Determine How Much a Balcony Can Hold?
The amount of weight a balcony can bear depends a lot on how it was constructed, what the environment is like, and how well it’s been maintained.
Here are some of the factors that influence a balcony’s integrity:
- How strong the materials are that were used to build it
- How much safety was taken into consideration while building it
- What level of quality was used in the construction
- What size fasteners were used
- How old the materials used to build it were
- What type of environment is the balcony exposed to
- What kind of wear and tear is it frequently exposed to
These are just some of the elements that determine how much weight a balcony is able to hold. Even if it is physically able to support the weight of a small pool, there are other limitations to take into consideration.
Check With Your Leasing Company
Putting furniture or any large items out on your balcony may not be allowed on your lease. If you’re not sure, you can check over your housing contract or contact your leasing company.
Sometimes the contract may have specifications for what is or isn’t permitted on the balcony for rental places. These specifications are for not only safety reasons, but also take into consideration any inconvenience that may be caused to other tenants.
If your leasing company says that a small pool isn’t allowed, then you might want to look into some alternatives such as creating a play area. Kids can still have fun on a balcony even without water!
If you’re lucky and get permission to set one up, it’s probably still a good idea to contact an expert before diving right in.
Ask a Structural Engineer to Examine the Balcony
The condition of a balcony can deteriorate very quickly over time. Even if a building is relatively new, there’s still a chance that the state of the balcony itself is not that pristine. To get a more accurate idea of what it’s like, it’s best to call in a structural engineer.
A structural engineer can examine the balcony and determine what kind of repairs are needed (if any) and also how sturdy it is. They will also be able to tell you what kind of materials the balcony was constructed from and approximately how much it can hold.
As mentioned before, water is extremely heavy—even in something as small as a kiddie pool. Although the total weight of the pool might be less than the balcony can bear, it might be more than it can hold per square foot.
This is something a structural engineer would be able to look into.
Consider What’s Below the Balcony
In my previous apartments I always lived above the first floor and my neighbor’s apartments were directly below mine. Although I couldn’t see onto theirs and they couldn’t see onto mine, I was always aware that they were there.
Whenever placing something onto a balcony it’s important to think about how it will affect the people living below you. For example, when I started gardening, I noticed that quite a bit of soil washed down onto my neighbor’s balcony when I watered my plants or when it rained.
Imagine where the water from a pool would go when someone splashes in it or it needs to be drained. Would it be possible to not get the space below wet? Would the other tenants mind if it did?
Assuming the leasing company and structural engineer said it’s okay, it’s a good idea to check with your neighbors next to see what they think.
Not only will the water be an issue, but also the sound of kids playing in it. Let’s face it, kids are noisy when they’re having fun—and the noisier they are, the more fun they’re likely having!
Keep in mind though, if the door to your neighbor’s balcony is open, all of the squeals and laughter could come flooding right into their home. It’s important to take all of these possibly nuisances into consideration.
Consider If Having a Pool on Your Balcony Is Worth It
Jot down a list of the reasons you’re thinking about setting up a pool and weigh the pros and cons of it. If you just want something fun for your kid to do while stuck at home during the summer, there are many great alternatives.
Instead of a pool you could opt for water balloons or a hose to spray each other and cool down. Or, you could set up a small tent that will give kids a shaded place to hide in while reading a book or playing a game.
You could also look into nearby community pools and swimming lessons. Kids are more likely to enjoy playing in a larger pool with other kids than a small one alone at home.
Balconies aren’t really intended for swimming. Even if your balcony could hold a pool, it’s likely to cause structural damage over time. Kids will have just as much fun if you sprayed them down with a water hose instead.