License board alleges contractor violations contributed to Berkeley balcony collapse

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Enforcement staff at the Contractors State License Board, or CSLB, have determined that five contractors involved in the construction of a balcony that collapsed last June probably violated California law, potentially leading to the suspension or revocation of the contractors’ licenses.

CSLB alleged that Segue Construction, Etter and Sons Construction, R. Brothers Waterproofing, Northstate Plastering and the Energy Store of California wilfully departed from accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike construction. CSLB also alleged that Etter and Sons failed or refused to cooperate in a board-led investigation.

“Throughout this investigation, CSLB’s goal has been to determine if any of the contractors deviated from accepted trade standards, leading to latent defects that comprised the integrity of the balcony,” said Rick Lopes, CSLB public affairs chief, in an email.

Thirteen people fell when the balcony of a fourth-floor unit in the Library Gardens apartment complex collapsed in June. Six died, and seven were injured. In addition to victims and their families, three of the tenants of the unit have sued the builders, owners and managers of the apartment complex.

According to the suit filed by the tenants, Segue served as the general contractor for the Library Gardens construction project. The suit alleges that Segue and the subcontractors that were hired chose not to correct the balcony’s water-saturated wood components “because it would have been costly, difficult, embarrassing and inconvenient to repair.”

The state Attorney General’s Office is reviewing CSLB’s investigative report to determine whether the alleged violations are supported by evidence. The details included in the report are still confidential and will become public only if the attorney general files formal accusations to suspend or revoke licenses.

Contact Ishaan Srivastava at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @ishaansriv.