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How to Make Sure Your Building Complies with SB 721

Updated: Apr 10

In Southern California, it's vital to maintain the safety and upkeep of multi-unit housing structures like apartments and condos. Senate Bill 721 (SB 721) was put in place to ensure this, requiring inspections of exterior elevated elements to meet SB 721 standards.

However, it's important to know who can conduct these inspections and what standards they must meet. In this guide, we'll explore these key points to help property owners and managers achieve SB 721 compliance.

Understanding SB 721 Inspections

SB 721, also known as the "Balcony Inspection Bill," was introduced in California in 2018 to focus on the safety of multifamily housing and building structures. Similar to SB 326, SB 721 emphasizes balcony safety, including compliance with E3 standards for balconies, decks, and walkways. It applies to apartment buildings with three or more units, aiming to prevent accidents caused by structural failures and ensure residents' safety.

Requirements for Professional Inspectors

Professional SB 721 inspectors must meet specific requirements outlined by the law. Let's take a closer look at these requirements.

Structural Engineering Proficiency

Inspectors need a strong background in structural engineering to assess the integrity of exterior elevated elements accurately. Structural engineers can identify potential risks and areas needing maintenance or repairs.


Inspectors must have a valid professional license in California, typically in fields like structural engineering, civil engineering, or architecture. This license indicates that they've met educational and experience requirements for specialized inspections.

Experience & Background

SB 721 inspections require experienced professionals. Inspectors should have a history of similar inspections, demonstrating their ability to identify hazards, evaluate structural integrity, and recommend necessary repairs or improvements.

Insurance and Liability Coverage

Inspectors should carry professional liability insurance to protect themselves and their clients in case of errors. Property owners and managers should verify that inspectors have adequate insurance coverage before hiring them for inspections.

Familiarity with SB 721 Regulations

Inspectors must have a deep understanding of the requirements and regulations outlined in SB 721. This includes knowing inspection timelines, reporting obligations, and necessary documentation for legal compliance. Staying updated on legislative changes is crucial for accurate evaluations.


Maintaining impartiality is essential for the integrity of the inspection process. Inspectors must avoid conflicts of interest that could affect their ability to provide unbiased assessments. Property owners should choose inspectors dedicated solely to ensuring residents' safety, without any hidden agendas.

Final Thoughts

SB 721 inspections are vital for maintaining the safety and structural integrity of multi-unit housing in California. Property owners and managers should select inspectors who meet all qualifications and requirements. By choosing inspectors with the right expertise, experience, licenses, insurance, and understanding of regulations, property owners can trust in the safety of their buildings and comply with the law. Ultimately, it's about preventing accidents and ensuring residents have a secure place to call home, which is the goal of SB 721.

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9 hours ago
Rated 1 out of 5 stars.

Of the engineers and architects that I have worked with over the years on residential and some commercial buildings is that they have the numbers and concepts pretty well in place. Try working with them on a project, OMG ! I’ve never seen someone cut corners just as soon as things start getting difficult. Anyway a General Contractor that wears his bags during the day is the guy that I’m going to trust. If you’ve got 25/30 yrs in the trades and you’ve been through the code classes for the other trades , plumbing and Electrical primarily you get an overall view of the work. Anyway not a word about the GCs that put it all together, know what it’s…

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