Inspections of balconies and “exterior elevated elements” on multifamily buildings are now required by California law.
The law, Senate Bill 721, applies to apartment buildings with three or more dwelling units.
Apartment owners needing assistance in complying with the new law’s requirements can call on Optimum Seismic’s decades of structural engineering design and construction experience to get the job done.
Investigation of a residential balcony collapse that killed six people in Berkeley showed the balcony’s wood framing was weakened by dry rot from rain leaking through the seal of the main building causing the critical load-bearing support to fail. The new law requires inspection of exterior elevated elements and associated waterproofing elements, including decks and balconies, porches, stairways and entry structures with walkways over six feet off the ground for buildings with three or more multifamily dwelling units.
Apartment Balcony Inspections, Repairs Reduce Liability
Professional evaluations and assessments must address the following elements at the time of the inspection:
Inspections are required to be done by licensed civil or structural engineer, architect, General Contractor holding A, B, or C-5 licenses or a certified building inspector not employed in the jurisdiction where the inspection is performed.
Direct visual evaluation of a least 15 percent of each type of exterior elevated element, and all load-bearing components and associated waterproofing is required.
Inspection reports need to be delivered to building owners and the local enforcement agency within 15 days if emergency repairs are needed. Non emergency repairs must be completed within 120 days.
There are significant fines if repairs are not done within 180 days. Inspectors are required to report the owner to the local enforcement jurisdiction and give notice to the owner this has occurred. If the repairs are not made within 30 days of this notice, the owner faces mandatory fines fixed by the local enforcement agency between $100 to $500 a day unless the owner gets an extension from the agency.
Deadline for first inspections and reports by property owners is 2025. Additional reports must be completed every six years after that to comply with the law. Since this is a new law, it’s best to begin the process well before the deadline to be sure your property is found in full compliance.
Property owners should check with their legal advisor about potential liability associated with balcony failures that occur prior to the required dates for first inspections, report submittals and corrective actions.
Most condominiums are excluded. However, condo conversions sold after January 1, 2019 must comply with the inspection requirements.