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Learning More About Balcony Inspections for Multi-Family Units

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Table of Contents

Learning More About Balcony Inspections for Multi-Family Units

  • Balcony safety law enacted

What Defines An Exterior Elevated Element?

  • Learning what needs to be inspected

Who Conducts The Inspections?

  • Qualified inspectors mandated by law.

What Are The Penalties For Non-Compliance?

  • Penalties for non-compliance enforced

How To Schedule Your Inspection

  • Schedule your balcony inspection with DrBalcony

FAQ Section

  • Top Questions & Answers Around California Balcony Inspections Deadline

Following the tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley that claimed the lives of seven students in 2015, Governor Jerry Brown took action by approving Senate Bill No. 721 on September 17, 2018. This legislation, commonly known as the “Balcony Inspection Law”, officially took effect on January 1, 2019. One of its key provisions is establishing a crucial deadline: January 1, 2025, to complete initial inspections. 

The Balcony Inspection Law brought significant changes by amending Section 1954 of the Civil Code and introducing Article 2.2 (starting with Section 17973) to Chapter 5 of Part 1.5 of Division 13 of the Health and Safety Code, specifically addressing building standards.

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What Obligations Does The Balcony Inspection Law Impose

The balcony inspection notice stipulates a thorough examination of “exterior elevated elements” within multi-family residential buildings in California housing three or more dwelling units. These assessments must be completed by January 1, 2025, with subsequent inspections mandated every six years.

Owners are obliged to retain copies of all inspection reports for at least two inspection cycles or twelve years. Furthermore, these reports must be furnished to prospective buyers of the building and made accessible to jurisdictional officials upon request. While the Balcony Inspection Law outlines minimum inspection and repair standards at the state level, it’s worth noting that local jurisdictions may enforce more stringent requirements.

What Defines An Exterior Elevated Element?

An exterior elevated element refers to any structure or feature of a building that is raised six feet above the ground level and located on the exterior of the building. This can include:

  • Balconies

  • Decks

  • Porches

  • Stairways

  • Walkways

  • Entry structures

Even if wood components aren’t immediately visible, many of these elements, such as concrete slabs supported by wood floor joists, fall under this category. If uncertain about compliance, seek a professional experienced in structural integrity examination and deck inspection for an exterior structure evaluation.

Who Conducts The Inspections?

To adhere to the mandates of the Balcony Inspection Law, the building owner must enlist one of the following professionals for the inspection: a licensed architect; a licensed civil or structural engineer; a building contractor with an “A,” “B,” or “C-5” license classification issued by the Contractors’ State License Board.

Possessing at least five years of experience; or an individual certified as a building inspector or building official by a recognized state, national, or international association, as determined by the local jurisdiction. Notably, the inspector must not be affiliated with the local jurisdiction during the inspection process, ensuring impartiality and compliance with building code standards, railings examination, and flooring condition assessment.

What Happens If The Inspector Discovers Damage?

Upon detecting damage, the inspector assesses its potential threat to occupants’ safety. If an immediate risk is evident, owners must swiftly address it, which may involve measures like limiting access, shoring, or emergency repairs. In cases where safety isn’t compromised, owners have 120 days from receiving the inspection report to seek repair permits.

Once permits are granted, they’re allotted an additional 120 days for repairs, with extension requests requiring approval from the local building department. All repair work, compliant with the Balcony Inspection Law’s standards, must be handled by a qualified, licensed contractor. Notably, the inspecting contractor cannot undertake repairs on the identified damage, ensuring impartiality and adherence to material deterioration analysis and corrosion inspection protocols.

What Are The Penalties For Non-Compliance?

According to the California balcony safety regulations outlined in the Balcony Inspection Law, buildings failing to comply may face penalties ranging from $100 to $500 per day. In cases of non-compliance, local jurisdictions hold the authority to impose civil fines and enforce safety liens against the building. If fines remain unpaid, the jurisdiction can pursue foreclosure to settle the imposed lien, emphasizing the importance of building code compliance review.

Scheduling Your Inspection With Us

Keep your balcony and living space safe with DrBalcony – We’re a tech engineering firm specializing in California SB326 & SB721 balcony inspections. With over 300 completed projects across California, you can trust us with your safety.

Contact DrBalcony for a professional inspection!

Request A Free EstimateClick To Call

FAQ Section: Top Questions & Answers

Q1: What is the California Balcony Law for Apartments and Condos?

The California Balcony Law mandates regular inspections of balconies, decks, and other elevated exterior structures in apartment buildings and condominium complexes. It requires property owners to ensure structural integrity and safety, especially in areas prone to moisture and deterioration. The law stipulates that inspections must be conducted every six years by qualified professionals, with the findings reported to local authorities. 

Q2: Who is Responsible for Compliance with the California Balcony Law?

Compliance with the California Balcony Law falls primarily on property owners of apartment buildings and condominium complexes. They are responsible for ensuring that regular inspections of balconies, decks, and other elevated exterior structures are conducted as mandated by the law. Property owners must hire qualified professionals to carry out these inspections every six years and report their findings to local authorities.

Additionally, property owners are obligated to maintain the structural integrity and safety of balconies, taking necessary measures to address any issues identified during inspections. Ensuring compliance with this law ultimately rests on the shoulders of property owners to uphold the safety standards for residents in California’s multi-unit housing.

Q3: What Does the California Balcony Law Require?

The California Balcony Law, enacted in 2018, requires property owners of apartment buildings and condominium complexes to adhere to specific safety measures regarding balconies, decks, and other elevated exterior structures. It mandates regular inspections of these structures every six years by qualified professionals to ensure their structural integrity and safety. Property owners are obliged to report inspection findings to local authorities.

Additionally, the law necessitates property owners to maintain adequate insurance coverage to mitigate liability risks associated with balcony-related accidents. Overall, the law aims to prevent tragedies like the Berkeley balcony collapse by promoting proactive maintenance and safety standards for multi-unit housing in California.

Q4: How Often Should Inspections Be Conducted?

Under the California Balcony Law, inspections must occur regularly to ensure occupants’ safety in multi-family residential buildings. This entails initial inspections conducted shortly after the law’s enactment or significant building events, targeting safety hazards and structural issues. Subsequent inspections, mandated by law at set intervals, aim to catch any deterioration or new hazards, typically occurring every few years.

Additionally, building owners should factor in significant events like weather disturbances, and earthquakes, to schedule evaluations, ensuring continuous safety. Consulting qualified professionals such as architects or engineers is crucial to establish optimal inspection timing and frequency, ensuring compliance and upholding safety standards as mandated by the California Balcony Law.

Q5: How Can Building Owners Ensure Compliance with the California Balcony Law?

Building owners can ensure compliance with the California Balcony Law by proactively scheduling regular inspections with qualified professionals, such as licensed architects, civil engineers, or certified building inspectors. These inspections should encompass thorough assessments of balconies, decks, and other exterior elevated elements to detect any safety hazards or structural deficiencies. Upon identifying issues, prompt action should be taken to address them, whether through repairs, reinforcements, or other necessary measures to ensure the safety of occupants. 

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