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California Balcony Inspections: What Happens if You Fail?

Updated: May 3

California takes the safety of its residents very seriously, especially when it comes to balconies and decks. That's why they have rules like SB-326 and SB-721 in place – nobody wants to see another preventable accident. If you own or manage a property in California, it's your responsibility to know these rules inside and out. 

So the inspector checked out your balcony and it didn't get a gold star. What now? Well, a few things could happen:

  • Needs Some Work (NERR): The balcony isn't about to collapse (thankfully!), but it definitely needs fixing. You'll get a deadline to make the repairs and have it inspected again to show it's up to code.

  • Emergency Required Repairs (ERR): This is where things get serious. The balcony might need to be blocked off, propped up. You'll need to get those repairs done super fast and have another inspection pronto.

  • Penalties and Fines: Miss your repair deadlines? The city or county might start charging you fines – and those can add up fast, ranging from $100 to $500 per day of non-compliance.

  • Lawsuits...The Worst-Case Scenario: The absolute last thing anyone wants is for someone to get hurt because of a faulty balcony. If that happens, you could be looking at major legal trouble and a hefty lawsuit.

The Importance of Proactive Compliance in California Balcony Inspections

The smartest thing you can do is just follow the balcony inspection rules from the get-go. It'll save you a ton of headaches in the long run. Here's the game plan:

  • Be On Top of Those Deadlines: Figure out when your building is due for its first inspection based on its size and type. Don't wait until the last minute to book an inspector!

  • Plan for the Unexpected: Even if your balconies are in good shape now, things can change. Having some money set aside specifically for repairs takes the stress out of the situation if something does come up .

  • Hire the Right People: Balcony repairs aren't really something to DIY unless you're a pro. Find licensed contractors who know exactly what they're doing when it comes to these kinds of structures.

Failing a balcony inspection in California is about more than a fine or fixing the problem right away. There are ripple effects:

  • Tougher to Sell: Think about buyers – are they going to be excited about a building with known problems? Maintenance issues can make your property a lot less attractive, and that could lower its value.

  • Your Name Matters: Word gets around. If you're known for not keeping your building up to code, it doesn't look good. That kind of reputation can cause problems with tenants, inspectors, and the whole community.

  • Insurance Headaches: Insurance companies aren't keen on taking risks. If they find out you've been cutting corners, your premiums could jump, or they might flat out refuse to cover you. That's a major financial gamble.

Protect Yourself and Your Residents

By understanding the consequences of failing SB721 balcony inspections and SB326 balcony inspections, you can take the necessary steps to ensure your California property is safe and compliant, avoiding financial and legal risks.


1. What's the difference between "Non-Emergency" and "Emergency" repairs?

  • Non-Emergency: Repairs are needed, but there's no immediate danger of collapse. You have a set deadline for addressing the issues.

  • Emergency: The balcony is unsafe. You might need to block it off, install temporary supports, and fix the problem urgently.

2. How big are the fines for not meeting repair deadlines?

Fines can be serious! They can range from $100 to $500 per day, and those costs add up quickly.

3. Could I get sued if someone gets hurt on my balcony?

Unfortunately, yes. If a balcony fails due to negligence (like not fixing known issues), you could face major lawsuits and be held liable for injuries or fatalities.

4. What if I'm renting? Isn't my landlord responsible for balcony repairs?

Yes! Your landlord should handle inspections and repairs. If they don't, contact your local building authority or tenant rights organization for guidance.

5. Can I just fix the balcony myself?

Unless you're a licensed contractor with specific balcony experience, it's strongly recommended that you don't. Balcony repairs often involve complex structural issues best handled by professionals.

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