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What Is SB 326 Inspection?

For HOA board members in California, it is crucial to understand the requirements of California's balcony laws, particularly Senate Bill 326 (SB 326). EEEadvisor Inc. can help HOAs , property managers,  and real estate agencies stay compliant with these laws by conducting comprehensive SB 326 inspections and providing detailed reports. The purpose of SB 326, which was passed on August 30, 2019, is to prevent future balcony collapses, like the one in Berkeley, California, that resulted in the deaths of six students and injuries to seven others in 2015. The law is an amendment to Civil Code Section 5551 and is aimed at ensuring the structural stability of decks, balconies, and walkways in condominium complexes and HOAs with at least three attached units. EEEadvisor created a guide to help HOA board members understand the requirements of SB 326, so they can avoid costly building department fees, enforcement costs, and potential liens against their properties.

What Are The Requirements of SB326 ?

To comply with SB-326, HOAs must arrange for inspections of all exterior elevated elements (EEEs) that are 6 or more feet off the ground and supported wholly or substantially by wood or wood-based products. Inspections must be carried out by qualified professionals, such as licensed architects, structural engineers, and should include an assessment of the water-proofing systems for each EEE. Inspections are required to be conducted initially by January 1, 2025, and at least once every nine years thereafter. The inspectors must visually inspect a statistically significant sample of the building's EEEs, and the exact number of EEEs inspected will depend on the size of the building.

Once a visual inspection has been carried out, the inspector will determine if further testing is necessary. In the event of an imminent threat to the safety and wellbeing of residents, the inspector is required to report it to both the city’s building department and the HOA board. A detailed report must be compiled by the inspector and presented to the HOA board, outlining the necessary repairs. The HOA board will then need to allocate a budget for the repairs and ensure they are completed.

 

The report should include the identification of specific building elements that were inspected, the current physical condition of these elements, whether any elevated exterior elements pose a risk to residents, and the anticipated service life and performance of the elements. The report should also outline the necessary repairs, distinguishing between emergency and non-emergency repairs. Emergency repairs that could put residents' health and safety at risk will be promptly referred to the building department's code enforcement agency, while non-emergency repairs will be reported to the condominium association's board.

It is mandatory to include the inspection report in your reserve study and keep copies of it for at least two inspection cycles. The inspection of balconies every nine years must coincide with every third reserve study. It is important to ensure that your local government authority or governing body documents do not have stricter requirements than those mentioned.
 
Failure to comply with SB-326 may result in penalties imposed by the code enforcement department of your local building authority. The department can charge fees, recover enforcement expenses, and enforce liens against non-compliant properties. Furthermore, not completing the required SB-326 inspections and repairs could make you liable for any resulting damages. Non-compliance may cause condo owners to lose their liability protection provided by insurance companies for personal injury claims. This implies that if someone is harmed on the property due to an issue that should have been addressed during an SB-326 inspection, the insurance company may not cover the claim.


In the event of someone getting injured while using or occupying any of the association's exterior elevated elements, the association will most likely be responsible for any financial settlements and will not be covered by their association's insurance policies.

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SB 326 Balcony Inspection Procedure 

There are several methods used during SB-326 inspections. The visual inspection is the primary and most essential component. The inspector examines all the load-bearing elements' exposed surfaces, guardrails, and how the various components integrate. However, if the wood frame is covered by siding or stucco, a visual inspection may not suffice.
Endoscopic testing is a preferred method because it is less invasive than destructive testing, which is noisy, messy, and expensive. With endoscopic testing, small holes are drilled into the wood's underside, and a borescope is used to visually inspect the concealed wood's interior condition. After inspection, the holes are plugged and sealed with air and watertight plugs.


Moisture sensors are also used to check for moisture intrusion. This helps identify the potential for dry rot so that maintenance and repairs can be performed to prevent it. Infrared imagery can be helpful in inspecting exposed surfaces. However, it cannot be used to inspect concealed wood because the infrared technology uses wavelengths that are beyond human vision.

A site visit by a certified engineer to survey the existing loading bar and inspect Exterior Elevated Elements.

  1. installation of plastic plug, and removal or drilling of exterior covers as directed by the engineer. 

  2. Providing the report which will include findings analysis, identification of building components, their current physical condition, recommendations for necessary repairs or replacements, and photos of elements. The report will be delivered within 60 days of the client's approval of the contract.

 
If we identify any damage to the building's waterproofing or load-bearing elements that poses an immediate risk of danger to the public, we will report it to the city's code enforcement agency within 15 days of the report's submission.

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Who Can Perform An SB-326 Inspection?

It is advisable to seek professional help from licensed SE engineers or architects to ensure the inspection is done properly. 

Our team of experienced engineers and technicians is dedicated to providing high-quality services that meet the minimum requirements of the law. With more than 30 years of experience and over 1500 successful projects, we have the expertise and equipment necessary to perform the inspection process with minimum damage to your building. We understand the importance of this inspection and are committed to delivering a comprehensive report that includes recommendations for any necessary repairs or replacements. The inspection will be performed by a team of trained and specialized professionals and will meet the minimum requirements of the CALIFORNIA BALCONY ordinance. The report will be signed by a professional engineer, who has a Professional Engineer license from the Bureau of California Professional Engineers Board. 

 

To adhere to California's SB326 and SB721, homeowners should hire a balcony inspector to guarantee the safety of their balconies and exterior elevated elements for human use. EEE Advisor offers a free consultation for homeowners and property managers for California Balcony Laws SB326 and SB721 and ensure the safety of their tenants for balcony usage. Consider using our services to guarantee the safety of your outdoor structures.

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