Updated: Feb 27
As a property owner/Manager in Los Angeles, it is essential to be aware of California Senate Bills 326 and sb721, also known as the "Balcony Inspection Laws." These laws require mandatory safety inspections and repair of any damaged exterior elevated elements, including balconies, decks, stairs, and catwalks after Berkley balcony collapse. Our company has taken the initiative to educate our clients and the public about the difference between inspection sb721 vs 326 and repair requirements of these new laws through.
Check for any signs of rotting, splitting, or decay in the wood.
Ensure all nails, screws, and anchors are secure and in place where the structure is attached to the building.
Verify that support beams and planking are present, intact, and securely attached.
Inspect handrails and guardrails for stability and check for any loose or missing components.
Look for signs of movement or shifting in the structure.
Ensure that the structure is properly anchored to the building.
Check for any corrosion or rust on metal components.
Verify that all hardware, such as bolts and brackets, are tightened and secure.
Look for any signs of water damage or staining on the structure and building.
Check for any cracking or other signs of structural failure in concrete or masonry components.
When inspecting a deck or balcony, look for proper and secure connections. Check for loose or missing nails, screws, or anchors where the structure is attached to the building. Check local building codes for proper connectors and fasteners. Loose railings, stairs, and ledgers that appear to be pulling away from the adjacent structure are cause for concern. Use screws rather than nails, as screws have more pullout resistance. Use thru-bolts with nuts and washers for added strength. Ensure all connections meet building code requirements
Water Damage and Rotting Water damage is a common issue with balconies and decks. It can be caused by improper waterproofing, leaks in the roof or walls, or splashing from pools, sprinklers, or other sources. Water can seep into the wood and cause it to rot, which weakens the structure and creates conditions that can lead to collapse. Signs of water damage include black or brown discoloration, warping, cracking, or decay. Regular maintenance and inspection are necessary to help prevent water damage and address any issues that arise. In addition to inspecting the structure, also inspect the joists and beams that support the deck or balcony. Look for signs of rot and replace any damaged pieces. Check the Drainage System Balconies and decks are susceptible to water damage because they are elevated off the ground. A proper drainage system should be in place to ensure water does not collect on the surface. Poorly installed or clogged drains can lead to water pooling, which can weaken the structure and promote rot. Check the drains and ensure they are functioning properly. Clean out any debris that may be blocking them. Consider installing additional drains if water tends to pool in certain areas. Regular Maintenance and Inspection Regular maintenance and inspection are essential to ensuring the safety of balconies and decks. Homeowners should check the structure periodically for signs of damage and take action to address any issues that arise. This can include repairing or replacing damaged boards, tightening loose screws or bolts, and performing regular waterproofing to help prevent water damage. Consider hiring a professional inspector if you are not confident in your ability to perform the inspection or repair work.
Regular maintenance, including waterproofing and painting or staining, can extend the life of a deck or balcony and reduce the likelihood of wood rot. When considering wood for a new deck or balcony, it is important to select a type of wood that is naturally resistant to rot, such as cedar or redwood, or treated wood that has been pressure-treated with a wood preservative. If a deck or balcony is being used frequently, or is in a high moisture environment like Santa Monica or Malibu, it may need to be checked more frequently for signs of rot. In addition, it is important to check for other factors that can contribute to wood rot, such as poor drainage, lack of ventilation, or water buildup.
Excessive cracking in wood can reduce its structural integrity and make it more vulnerable to failure. Regular inspection of wood components is important to identify and address any potential issues in a timely manner. Proper ventilation can help prevent excessive cracking and decay by allowing moisture to escape from underneath the deck. Ventilation openings should be protected from rain and snow to prevent moisture from entering the structure. Proper blocking and bridging should be installed to ensure that air circulation is not hindered.
Flashing should be installed properly and securely to prevent water from penetrating behind the deck and balcony structure. If the flashing is damaged, the deck and balcony should be inspected immediately and the flashing should be repaired or replaced. The flashing should also be inspected for proper slope to ensure water drains properly away from the structure. Poorly installed or poorly maintained flashing can result in water damage and potential safety hazards.
To summarize, railings on balconies and decks should adhere to local building codes for safety. Height and maximum opening between balusters are regulated and a qualified inspector should verify proper installation of railing attachments. It's important to review local building codes for best practices and to keep up with changes to building codes as new materials and products are introduced.
It is imperative to hire the best hands to ensure safety and of course, compliance.