Jul 31, 2022
EEE Balcony Inspection for California statewide HOAs
In late August of 2019 Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 326 into law, one that could have far reaching consequences for HOAs in the state of California. Now part of the California Civil Code as Civil Code § 5551, this piece of legislation adds new requirements to The Davis-Stirling Act, already considered one of largest body of laws regulating associations by many attorneys.
Beginning January 1, 2020 communities meeting specific criteria will be required to have load bearing structures that are supported substantially by wood inspected. This first inspection must be done by January 2025, though it is recommended that this initial inspection be completed in the same year as the triannual study that is also required. Civil Code § 5551 does not supersede more stringent local laws, and will also need to be observed by the relevant HOAs.
While not changing who is responsible for maintenance and repairs, the statute does impose specific obligations on the relevant HOAs in regard to the structures they already have responsibility for.
The new law requires that inspections be conducted by a licensed structural engineer or architect, and like many regulatory ordinances there is an added expense because of this requirement. A licensed inspector must visually review what the law refers to as a statistically significant portion of an association’s relevant structures, making sure that these structures are both safe and in compliance. This requirement is considered unique and could come with a bill ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 depending on the number of relevant structures within a community.
Under this costly approach, only a portion of the applicable structures will have to be inspected, but the inspectors must have a 95% confidence level that those structures are safe, up to code, and are representative of structures across the entire association. Some board members across various HOAs have expressed distress over what has been deemed as an onerous expense, but for the time being this change to Davis-Stirling is here to stay.
Omid Ghanadiof Omid is co-founder of EEE advisor engineering firm that Specialized Engineering Structural Inspection Firm active in southern California to help owners and HOAs to comply with Balcony inspection ordinance SB-721 and SB-326