Apartment Management Magazine Are You Ready for Required Inspections of Balconies and Exterior Elevated Elements?
California Senate Bill 721 (SB721) and Senate Bill 326 (SB326) Mandate Compliance with regulatory deadlines
By Omid Ghanadiof, EEEAdvisor Engineering
Be ready! January 1, 2025 is the deadline to comply with both Senate Bills 721 and 326 for multi-family rental properties and condominiums that contain three or more units. Residential property owners and applicable homeowners associations (HOAs) throughout California must have balconies and elevated exterior features on their properties inspected. Property owners and managers and HOAs should seek the help they need before the deadline and familiarize themselves with the inspection criteria to ensure they are in compliance with the so-called “California home ownership laws”. the inspection of the balconies”.
What should we inspect? Exterior Raised Units (EEE)
These two state laws are designed for buildings that contain three or more dwellings. Senate Bill 326 relates to condominiums and Senate Bill 721 relates to apartment buildings. The laws emerged following a balcony collapse in the city of Berkeley, which then established a local balcony inspection ordinance, and many of the provisions of the local ordinance were incorporated into the law of the State. Accordingly, the required inspections must be carried out on all elevated unit structures. Raised exterior elements are building elements that are constructed of wood, have a walking surface, have a portion that is 6 feet above the ground, and extend outside of the four walls of a structure. Raised exterior features include balconies, exterior decks, porches, exterior stairways, and exterior walkways that have a walking surface that is elevated more than six feet above ground level in accordance with these ordinances. The required inspection includes the supports and railings of the waterproofing system, as well as load-bearing components.
Under Senate Bill 721, load-bearing components are “components that extend beyond the exterior walls of the building to transmit structural loads from the raised exterior member (EEA) to the building.” Senate Bill 326 gives a more descriptive definition of “load-bearing components” as components that extend beyond the exterior walls of the building to provide structural loads to the building from decks, balconies, stairs , walkways and railings therefor, all designed for human occupancy or use, supported wholly or substantially by wood or wood-based products, and associated waterproofing systems, including flashings, membranes, coatings and sealants that protect load-bearing components of elevated exterior features from exposure to water.
Visual inspection compliance
Under Senate Bill 721, minimum inspection requirements include “the identification of every type of exterior raised item which, if found to be defective, rotted, or deteriorated to the point of not meeting load requirements, would, in the opinion of the inspector, pose a threat to the health or safety of the occupants. Senate Bill 326; However, defines visual inspection as “inspection by the least intrusive method necessary to inspect load-bearing components, including visual observation only or visual observation in conjunction with, for example, the use of moisture meters , endoscopes or infrared technology”. One of the biggest challenges with visual inspection compliance is understanding the terms, specifically visual inspection as it is required by law, and this is where the team at 3EAdvisor Engineering can help you.
Inspectors will provide a written report listing the components that have been checked and describing their condition, including estimates of the remaining functional life of the components, any necessary repairs, and a report of any immediate danger to occupants. The Senate report on Bill 326 will be incorporated into HOAs’ next reserve study, and HOAs will be required to retain the reports for at least two inspection cycles, i.e. up to 18 year.
If the inspector in the Senate Bill 326 or 721 report identifies issues that require repair, but the owner or HOA board member decides not to fix the issue, an inspector is then required to notify the local jurisdiction of the condition. Additionally, if an element of the building fails and someone is injured as a result, the liability of any owner or member of the HOA and HOA board of directors could be heavy.
The distinctions between the inspection cycles required under Senate Bill 721 and Senate Bill 326 are striking. The time frame provided by Senate Bill 326 is at least once every nine years, except for new buildings of common interest. But, under Senate Bill 721, subsequent inspections must be completed by Jan. 1.st every six years after the initial inspection. Further, Senate Bill 326 does not specify any fines; however, the inspection report is incorporated into the HOA’s reserve review and will likely be subject to the same penalties as breaches of the Davis-Stirling Act. Local law enforcement agencies have the ability to collect enforcement expenses, pursuant to each of Senate Bills 721 and 326.
Sample size of inspections
Described as “the biggest discrepancy between the law intended for apartments and the law intended for condominiums, the sample size for inspection under Senate Bill 721 is just 15% of each type of item elevated exterior to be inspected. Under Senate Bill 326; however, the sample size is somewhat more elaborate. Senate Bill 326 requires that any inspection include “a sufficient number of units inspected to provide 95% confidence that the results of the sample reflect the whole, with a margin of error not exceeding plus or minus five percent”.
Understanding the terms of each of these state laws and subsequently ensuring compliance can sometimes be a daunting task, especially for inexperienced engineers and contractors, not to mention property owners and managers or members of a building board. HOA administration. Therefore, it is imperative that you only hire experienced professionals to ensure safety and of course compliance with these very complicated laws. 3Eadvisor Engineering has the knowledge and experience you need to ensure your inspections are carried out in accordance with the law, as well as to keep your residents safe and reduce your risk of liability.
Omid Ghanadiof is co-founder of 3Eadvisor Engineering, asstructural inspection company specializing in engineering located in Southern California. 3Eadvisor Engineering helps rental property owners and homeowners associations (HOAs) comply with state-mandated balcony inspections pursuant to Senate Bills 721 and 326. 721 and 326. For more information, contact Mr. Ghanadiof at (805) 312-8513 or [email protected].