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SB 721 Balcony Inspection Requirements: Your Property Safety Checklist

Alright, California property owners, let's get down to brass tacks on SB 721. This balcony inspection law isn't just a formality—it's about ensuring the safety and longevity of your exterior elevated elements (EEEs). Don't worry, we'll break down the inspection requirements in plain English, so you can feel confident in your property's compliance.

What Exactly Does SB 721 Require?

Think of SB 721 as a health checkup for your balconies and other EEEs. Here's what gets scrutinized during a balcony inspection in California:

  • Load-Bearing Components: Think of these as your balcony's bones and muscles. Inspectors check beams, joists, fasteners, and anything that holds up the structure to make sure they're in good shape and can handle the weight they're meant to carry.

  • Waterproofing Elements: California's rain and sun can wreak havoc on your balconies over time. Inspectors assess flashing, membranes, and sealants to ensure water isn't seeping in and causing damage like rot or corrosion.

  • Guardrails and Railings: These aren't just for looks! They're essential safety features. Inspectors check for secure connections, proper height, and any signs of deterioration that could compromise their integrity.

  • Walking Surfaces: Whether it's wood, concrete, or another material, your balcony's surface needs to be in good condition. Inspectors look for cracks, splits, unevenness, or other hazards that could cause slips, trips, or falls.

  • Stairs and Walkways: These are also considered EEEs and need to be assessed for structural soundness and safety. Inspectors will check for loose railings, damaged treads, and uneven surfaces.

Who Can Conduct SB 721 Balcony Inspections?

This is where it gets a bit tricky. Not just anyone can perform these inspections. The California Balcony Law requires a licensed professional, specifically:

  • Licensed Architect

  • Licensed Structural Engineer

  • Licensed General Contractor with specific experience in multi-family, wood-frame construction

  • Certified Building Inspector or Building Official

So, while your friendly maintenance person might be handy, they're not qualified to perform the official inspection required by SB 721.

What to Expect from a Thorough Inspection?

  • Detailed Reports: A professional inspection will provide a comprehensive written report, detailing any issues found, their severity, and recommendations for repairs. This report is crucial for maintaining compliance and demonstrating your commitment to safety.

  • Expert Analysis: An experienced inspector knows what to look for beyond the obvious. They can identify subtle signs of hidden damage and potential risks that a less experienced eye might miss.

  • Prioritized Repairs: The inspection report should outline a clear timeline for addressing any necessary repairs. This helps you prioritize safety concerns and ensure your balconies remain compliant with the law.

  • Peace of Mind: Knowing your balconies have been thoroughly inspected and any issues addressed gives you, your residents, and your insurance company peace of mind.

EEEAdvisor: Your Partner in SB 721 Compliance

Navigating the complexities of SB 721 can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. At EEEAdvisor, we specialize in balcony inspections for multi-family properties in California. Our experienced team understands the nuances of the law and is committed to providing you with the highest level of expertise and service.

Let us help you ensure your balconies are safe, compliant, and worry-free. Contact us today for a free consultation and quote.


  1. Which specific balconies or decks on my property need to be inspected under SB 721?

  • All exterior elevated elements (EEEs) that are part of the load-bearing components of your building need inspection. This typically includes balconies, decks, stairs, and any associated railings and guardrails.

  1. How often do I need to have my balconies inspected under SB 721?

  • The frequency depends on the building's construction type:

  • Wood-framed buildings: Inspections are required every six years after the initial inspection.

  • Other construction types: Inspections are required every nine years after the initial inspection.

  1. What happens if my balcony fails the inspection?

  • If the inspector finds any safety issues, they'll outline them in the report with recommended repairs and timelines. You'll need to address these issues promptly to avoid fines or potential legal liability.

  1. Can I use a general contractor for the inspection, or do I need a specialist?

  • SB 721 is strict about who can perform these inspections.  They must be done by licensed architects, structural engineers, licensed general contractors with specific experience in multi-family, wood-frame construction, or certified building inspectors/officials.

  1. What can I do to prepare for the inspection?

  • Gather any relevant documentation about your building's construction and past inspections. Clear away any clutter or obstructions from balconies and other EEEs to allow easy access for the inspector.

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