Following a tragedy that occurred in 2015, California passed a legislation requiring periodic inspections of specific types of balconies. What you should know about the California State Balcony Inspection Law is provided below.
Background on the Tragedy:
In 2015, a balcony in Berkeley, California, collapsed during a birthday party, resulting in the deaths of six students and injuring several others. The balcony was found to have been poorly constructed and maintained, leading to its collapse.
In response to this tragedy, the California State Legislature passed a law requiring regular inspections of certain types of balconies.
The Balcony Inspection Law:
The California State Balcony Inspection Law requires that all balconies, decks, and other outdoor structures that are exposed to weather conditions and are part of buildings containing three or more multifamily dwelling units be inspected by a licensed architect, contractor, or engineer.
The inspection must be performed at least once every 5 years, and the inspector must assess the structure's overall condition, including the supporting elements, the decking, the waterproofing system, and any associated railings or guards.
The law also requires the inspector to report any deficiencies and recommend repairs, replacements, or maintenance measures to ensure the safety of the structure.
Owners of the affected properties must obtain the inspection report and make any necessary repairs within a reasonable time frame.
Exceptions to the Balcony Inspection Law:
The Balcony Inspection Law does not apply to structures that are not exposed to weather conditions or that are part of buildings containing fewer than three multifamily dwelling units.
Additionally, structures that have been inspected and certified within the past 5 years may be exempt from the requirement to obtain a new inspection report.
Consequences of Non-Compliance:
Failure to comply with the Balcony Inspection Law can result in fines and legal liability if a structure fails and results in injury or death.
Here are some additional considerations to keep in mind:
· Regular maintenance is key: Even if a balcony or deck has been inspected and certified as safe, regular maintenance is essential to ensure that it remains in good condition. Property owners should inspect their outdoor structures regularly and address any issues promptly.
· Choose the right materials: The materials used for decking and railing can affect their durability and maintenance needs. Choosing high-quality, weather-resistant materials can help ensure that outdoor structures last longer and require less maintenance.
· Consider the local climate: California's diverse climate can affect the durability of outdoor structures. For example, properties located in coastal areas may be more susceptible to corrosion from saltwater exposure. Property owners should choose materials and maintenance strategies that are appropriate for their local climate.
· Know your liability: Property owners may be held liable for injuries or damages resulting from unsafe balconies or decks. It's important to understand your legal responsibilities and take steps to ensure that your outdoor structures are safe for residents and visitors.
In conclusion, the California State Balcony Inspection Law is an important step toward improving safety in multifamily dwellings. By following this law and taking additional steps to ensure the safety of outdoor structures, property owners can help prevent tragedies and ensure the safety of their residents and visitors.
EEEAdvisor is striving to educate clients on these standards and the regulations established in SB721 and SB326 in order to assist clients in meeting the compliance deadline and ensure the security of their facilities. Omid Ghanadiof is a co-founder of the Southern California-based engineering inspections company EEEadvisor Engineering. EEEadvisor Engineers assists homeowners associations (HOAs) and owners of rental homes in adhering to state laws for balcony inspections, as per Senate Bills 721 and 326. For further information, get in touch with Mr. Ghanadiof at (805) 312-8513 or http://info@EEEadvisor.com.