CALIFORNIA STATE BALCONY INSPECTION LAW S SB 721 & 326 (Chapter 445, Stats. 2018) were signed by Governor Brown in response to the 2015 Berkeley balcony collapse. The balcony collapsed due to decayed wooden joist; six young adults on the balcony were killed and seven others were injured, mostly Irish citizens, visiting California as part of UC Berkeley's summer exchange program. While some local governments already impose a local inspection program, this California law requires inspection of specific balconies throughout California.
Building with 3 or more units that have:
Balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways and entry structures that extend beyond exterior walls of the building and rely on wood or wood-base products for structural support or stability. These areas are characterized by a walking surface that is elevated more than 6 feet above the ground level and any balconies designed for human occupancy or use.
Buildings that are proposed for conversion to condominiums to be sold to the public after January 1, 2019, must be inspected prior to the first close or escrow to see if they need balcony repairs.
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SB 326 applies to condos with two or more units. A condominium is classified as a commercial property where the developer owns and sells the units that may then be occupied, rented, or maintained by investors.
Buildings that fall under SB 326 must get an inspection every 9 years.
SB 721 applies to apartment buildings with three or more units. An apartment building is classified as a building where the developer directly rents out the units to tenants.
Buildings that fall under SB 721 must get an inspection every 6 years.
The deadline for SB 721 & 326 inspections is December 31st, 2024.
The inspection of a building for which a building permit application has been submitted on or after January 1, 2019, shall occur no later than 6 years following issuance of a certificate of occupancy from the local jurisdiction and shall otherwise comply with the provisions of this law.
If the property was inspected within 3 years prior to January 1, 2019, by an inspector as described in the law and a report was issued stating that the exterior elevated elements and associated waterproofing elements are in proper working condition and do not pose a threat to the health and safety of the public then no new inspection shall be required until January 1, 2025.
General Contractor holding any or all A, B, or C-5 License issued by the Contractors State License Board with a minimum of 5 years’ experience in constructing multistory wood frame buildings.
The report must, at a minimum, include: Identification of each exterior elevated element or associated waterproofing elements that, if found to be defective, decayed or deteriorated to the extent that it does not meet its load requirements. It must be determined if any damage would, in the opinion of the inspector, constitute a threat to the health or safety of the occupants.
“Associated waterproofing elements” are slashing, membranes, coating and sealants that protect the load-bearing components of exterior elevated elements from exposure to water and the elements.
Assessments of elevated elements using methods allowing for evaluated of their performance by direct visual examination or comparable means of evaluation. The evaluation and assessment shall address each of the following:
Due to the structural nature of these inspections, we recommend going with an engineer over an architect. This can greatly reduce the cost of the inspection and the repairs if they are needed. This also eases the process for building owners.
The process for these repairs is straightforward. We agree on the scope of the project and do it as quickly as possible so you or your tenants can get back to enjoying the outdoors in privacy.
Common issues compromising the structural integrity of balconies, decks, and patios are as follows; mold, rusted metal, cracks, or a damaged top coat.
Any issues with mold or rust require replacing the damaged material. Both mold and rust worsen over time and compromise support. They also cause additional danger to health due to their toxic nature.
Cracked concrete can actually be caused by rust. If that is the cause, then a cracked concrete repair ends up following the same course as a rusted metal repair. If the cracked concrete is only a surface issue then the solution is the same as a damaged topcoat. The damaged surfaces need to be replaced which prevents mold, rust, and cracked concrete by mitigating exposure to the elements.
Each structural compromise will call for a different repair. You can find the simplified breakdown below.
Cracked concrete: Resurface or replaced
Damaged topcoat: Resurface
Balcony inspections can be costly and time consuming. As a result, many building owners are staying away from them entirely. This is a sad reality in California with its perfect weather, beautiful nature, and high population density.
Balconies provide an escape for apartment dwellers to enjoy the outdoors with privacy. They can have barbecues or drink a glass of wine with their friends. These are incredible luxuries that allow owners to charge a greater rent. Ultimately, this only makes sense if inspections and repairs are priced adequately.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule an inspection so you can find an easy solution to these complex policy changes.
At Omega Structural Inc. Building Contractors, we offer a range of services to meet your building needs. From new construction to remodeling, we have the expertise and experience to make your project a success. Our team is committed to delivering exceptional workmanship and outstanding service.