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About the SB 721 California Law

On September 17, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed SB 721, also known as the "Balcony Inspection Bill." The bill was enacted as a result of the tragic deaths of six university students in 2015 who died due to the collapse of a balcony at a downtown apartment complex. This law requires owners of multi-family apartment buildings with three or more units to conduct the first inspection by January 1, 2025. The Balcony Inspection Bill was enacted to enhance public safety and provide additional security to decks, balconies, and other elevated exterior structures in multi-family residential units. This will be achieved by conducting inspections every six years to check the structural integrity, waterproofing, and flashings of these elements. The first inspections must be completed by January 1, 2025. The elements that need to be inspected include walkways, balconies, decks, landings, stairways, and railings in multi-family residential buildings with three or more units and two or more stories in height. On larger complexes, a representative sample of up to 15% of the respective elements may be inspected. The inspections must be carried out by licensed architects, civil or structural engineers, or building contractors holding specific licenses as a B General Contractor or C5 Framing. The inspector is required to report any hazardous conditions that pose a life safety threat to the local building official. Building owners will have 15 to 120 days to address any necessary repairs, depending on the condition of the items that were inspected. The inspector will assess the condition, performance, and adequacy of various elements that make up the deck, balcony, landing, or stairway structure, focusing on structural integrity. They will check for signs of unintended water intrusion, dry rot, or structural damage. The metal edge, wall, and transition flashings of the deck will be evaluated for rust, corrosion, and adhesion of waterproofing materials. The inspector will also check the traffic coatings of the deck for cracks or other conditions that could compromise the waterproof integrity and performance of the coating system. The stair and deck railings will be inspected for stability and overall condition, and the wood framing (joists, beams, posts) will be checked for damage that could affect structural integrity. The inspector will provide a report of their findings, along with sufficient photos to document the conditions of the building elements for future inspections and to create a historical record. If a hazardous condition is deemed an immediate or nearly immediate life safety issue, the building official (city or county building department) must be notified, and the owner will have a specified period to obtain a building permit and make necessary repairs. Most inspections are likely to result in the identification of minor problems (or no problems at all), which the owner can address as a matter of routine maintenance and upkeep. This aspect of the inspection will benefit the owners by helping them budget and plan and by bringing attention to minor issues before they become larger problems. In addition to the above requirements, contractors cannot perform the repairs needed for the building, owners must apply for permits on non-emergency repairs within 120 days of receiving the report, and they must complete the repairs within 120 days of permit approval. If the owners do not comply with the repair requirements within 180 days, the inspector will notify local enforcement, and the owners may be assessed a civil penalty. Owners of properties that qualify for the inspection must have this completed by January 1, 2025.

EEEadvisor is a company with extensive expertise in construction and design, boasting of numerous successful projects in the multifamily property sector. We offer high-quality, cost-effective inspection services for exterior elevated elements such as balconies, decks, railings, walkways, and waterproofing systems in Southern California.


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