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About SB 721 California Law & Deck Requirements

If you own or manage a multi-unit residential building in California that has a deck or balcony, it is important to be aware of Senate Bill 721 (SB 721) and its deck requirements. SB 721 was signed into law in 2018, following a tragic incident in Berkeley where a balcony collapsed, killing six people and injuring seven others. The law aims to prevent similar accidents from happening by mandating inspections of elevated exterior elements (EEE) in buildings with three or more multifamily units. Under SB 721, EEEs are defined as any load-bearing component or associated waterproofing system that extends beyond the exterior walls of a building, including balconies, decks, and walkways. The law requires that all EEEs in buildings with three or more multifamily units be inspected by a qualified professional at least once every six years. The inspection must include a visual assessment of all load-bearing components and their connections, as well as a review of the condition of the waterproofing system. The inspection report must be submitted to the building owner or manager, who is then required to provide a copy to each tenant occupying a unit served by the EEE within 15 days of receiving the report. If any unsafe conditions are identified during the inspection, they must be reported to the building owner or manager, who must then take appropriate action to correct the problem. It is worth noting that SB 721 only applies to buildings with three or more multifamily units that were issued a building permit on or before January 1, 2019. Buildings with fewer than three multifamily units are not subject to the law. In addition to the inspection requirements, SB 721 also mandates certain deck requirements. Specifically, the law requires that all EEEs in buildings subject to the law must have a walking surface that is constructed of materials that provide corrosion protection and are designed for the specific use of the EEE. This means that building owners and managers cannot use materials that are not designed for outdoor use or that are not resistant to moisture and corrosion. Furthermore, the law requires that all EEEs have a means of drainage that is designed to prevent the accumulation of water on the walking surface. This is important for preventing water damage and ensuring the safety of those using the deck or balcony.

In conclusion, SB 721 is an important law that aims to prevent tragic accidents by mandating inspections of elevated exterior elements in buildings with three or more multifamily units. Building owners and managers must comply with the inspection requirements and ensure that their EEEs meet the deck requirements outlined in the law. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in fines and other penalties, as well as potential legal liability in the event of an accident. EEEAdvisor works to educate clients on these standards and the regulations outlined in SB721 and SB326 in order to assist customers in meeting the compliance deadline and ensure the security of their facilities. Omid Ghanadiof is a co-founder of the engineering inspections company EEEadvisor Engineering, based in California. EEEadvisor Engineers assists homeowners associations (HOAs) and landlords in adhering to state regulations for balcony inspections, as per Senate Bills 721 and 326. For further information, get in touch with us at (805) 312-8513 or


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