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Your Guide to SB326 & SB721 Compliance

Frequently Asked Questions

All your questions answered by our engineering experts.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Do all dwellings need to be inspected?

Only buildings containing three or more multifamily dwelling units need to be inspected. All structures elevated more than 6’ above the ground and made from wood, or wood-based elements must be inspected, including:

  • Porches
  • Stairways
  • Walkways
  • Decks
  • Elevated entry structures
Why should I work on this now? The deadline is Jan 1,2025, I still have time.

Given the number of communities and Exterior Elevated Elements throughout the State it will become increasingly difficult and expensive to schedule the required inspections and contractors to make any necessary repairs resulting from those inspections. Also, getting the inspection report completed will give you a good idea of how much to budget for any repair work (if needed)

Who can perform an SB721 Inspection?
  • Licensed Architects
  • Licensed Civil or Structural Engineers
  • Licensed Contractor (A, B, or C-5) with at least 5 years’ experience constructing multistory wood frame buildings.
  • Certified Building Inspector*
What happens if the inspection uncovers needed repairs?

Repairs classified as “immediate action required” represent a real and present risk to life and safety. If a safety inspection reveals such issues, the inspector must notify the local building department and the building owner within 15 days of the inspection.

At that point, the building owner must inform tenants and prevent access to the area if needed.

The owner then has 120 days to obtain a building permit for the required repairs and an additional 120 days to complete the necessary repairs.

Do we have to inspect all the exterior elevated elements at our property?

The law requires inspection of at least 15 percent of each type of Exterior Elevated Element. This means not all elements will be inspected and the number of elements inspected will vary based on the total number of elements at each community. Elements are selected randomly using a validated random selection process. SB326 requires 95% of all exterior elevated elements to be inspected.

How often do we have to do these inspections?

Every 6 years from Jan 2025 for SB721 and every 9 years for SB326

Who selects which exterior elevated elements are inspected?

The inspector you hire will determine which exterior elevated elements will be inspected. 6 years later, different exterior elevated elements will need to be inspected.

What does the inspection report include and who receives the report?

Based upon the inspections, the inspector shall issue a written report containing the following information for each inspected element:

  1. The identification of the building components comprising the load-bearing components and associated waterproofing system.
  2. The current physical condition, including whether the condition presents an immediate threat to the health or safety of the occupants.
  3. The expected future performance and projected service life.
  4. Recommendations for any necessary repair or replacement of the load-bearing components and associated waterproofing system.

The written report must be presented to the Owner of the building within 45 days of completion of the inspection. If the inspector advises that the Exterior Elevated Element poses an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants, or that preventing occupant access or emergency repairs, including shoring, are necessary, then the report shall be provided by the inspector to the Owner of the building and to the local enforcement agency within 15 days of completion of the report.

What happens if I don’t address SB721 & SB326?

Under the new bill, penalties of $100-$500 per day will be assessed for non-compliant facilities. If a civil fine or penalty has been assessed, the local jurisdiction also reserves the right to enforce a safety lien against the facility. If a building owner refuses to pay the fines issued against them, the local jurisdiction can seek to satisfy the lien through foreclosure.

DRBALCONY FAQ

What is the payment process after signing a contract with your company?

We can proceed to schedule your service. We will then provide you with a specific date for an inspection. Following the completion of this inspection, an invoice will be dispatched to you.

When can I expect to receive the report after an inspection, and what conditions must be met?

The report will be dispatched within a maximum of 45 days following the date of inspection. However, it’s important to note that the dispatch of the report is contingent upon receipt of payment. In other words, the report will not be sent until the payment has been successfully processed.

Do you employ infrared or moisture meters during inspections, or do you solely rely on drilling holes for borescope assessments?

The inspector makes use of a moisture meter as part of the assessment process. The results from this tool will be thoroughly detailed in the final report that you will receive.

What is the relationship between EEEAdvisor and DrBalcony?

Yes, EEEAdvisor and DrBalcony are indeed part of the same organization. To clarify, ‘EEEAdvisor’ is our official legal name that we use for formal purposes. On the other hand, ‘DrBalcony’ is our Doing Business As (DBA) name, which we commonly use in our day-to-day operations and interactions with clients.

Could you provide a detailed explanation of how you determine the cost for each building inspection?

We use the EEE(Exterior Elevated Element)  information provided to our databases and our custom AI Algorithm to calculate the price.

CALIFORNIA SB721 FAQ

Can you explain what SB721 is and the reason for its introduction?

Senate Bill No. 721, also known as SB721, was passed in California to address safety concerns regarding exterior elevated elements in buildings with three or more multifamily dwelling units. The bill, approved on September 17, 2018, introduces requirements for inspections and maintenance to ensure the safety of balconies and decks.

This law significantly impacts how city inspectors conduct balcony inspections. Its primary purpose is to simplify the process for homeowners, landlords, and tenants to verify the safety of their balconies through regular inspections.

The motivation behind this legislation stems from a tragic incident at UC Berkeley, where a balcony collapse resulted in the unfortunate loss of six students’ lives.

What impact does this have on you as a property owner?

The new California Senate Bill 721 mandates regular inspections for multifamily buildings that house three or more units. As a property owner, you are required to complete the first inspection by January 1, 2025.

What are the requirements and procedures for SB-721 regarding the inspection and maintenance of balconies and other elevated elements?

The primary goal of SB-721 is to ensure the safe installation and upkeep of balconies, decks, and similar elevated structures, thereby minimizing the risk of structural failure and potential injuries. 

The inspection should be carried out by a qualified professional, such as an architect, civil or structural engineer, or a B/C5 General contractor. They will use approved visual and non-destructive testing methods during the inspection process.

The inspection involves a comprehensive visual examination of all components, testing the railing system, and checking for signs of corrosion. If any damage or corrosion is detected, it should be documented, and necessary repairs should be suggested.

Following the inspection, the results must be reported to the local jurisdiction, along with any proposed repairs or improvements. Depending on the severity of the issues found, owners will have between 15 to 120 days to address any recommended repairs, whether they are emergency or non-emergency.

It’s important to note that the contractors who perform the inspection cannot also carry out the repairs for the same building. Within 120 days of receiving the inspection report, building owners are required to apply for non-emergency repair permits. Once these permits are granted, the owner has another 120 days to complete the repairs.

Inspections are mandatory for any external building element that is six feet or higher from the ground. This includes walkways, balconies, decks, landings, stairways, and railings. Buildings that require this inspection are those containing three or more units and are at least two stories high.

Should I be concerned about the safety of my balcony?

Concerns may arise if the building owner fails to comply with repair requirements within a 180-day period. In such cases, the inspector is obligated to notify local enforcement. Non-compliance with SB-721 could lead to the owner facing liens, fines, and other penalties. 

However, it’s important to note that the inspection process is designed to be straightforward and thorough. Its main goal is to identify and address any potential risks, ensuring the safety and security of your balcony. Most inspections typically reveal minor issues (or sometimes none at all) that can be resolved through routine maintenance. 

If you have concerns about the condition of your balcony, scheduling an inspection with a qualified professional, such as DrBalcony, is the best course of action. This will provide peace of mind by confirming that your balcony is safe!

CALIFORNIA SB326 FAQ

Can you explain what SB 326 is and the reasons behind its introduction?

SB326, also known as the Balcony Bill, is an amendment to Civil Code Section 5551. It was introduced following a series of inspections across California and in response to incidents where tenants’ safety was compromised due to unsafe balconies. The primary aim of this bill is to enhance balcony safety regulations in California.

The bill mandates that all building owners adhere to current safety regulations. This includes conducting regular inspections of their balconies and reporting any deficiencies or unsafe conditions promptly. Furthermore, it stipulates that all balconies must be constructed according to the latest codes and standards. Penalties are set for those who fail to comply with these requirements. In essence, SB326 ensures improved safety for balcony users in California.

Can you explain the key requirements of SB-326?

SB-326 mandates that Homeowners Associations (HOAs) must conduct thorough inspections by January 1, 2025, and at least once every nine years following. These inspections should be performed by licensed professionals such as structural engineers, architects, general contractors, or certified building inspectors.

The focus of these inspections is on all exterior elevated elements (EEEs) that are 6 feet or more off the ground, including their waterproofing systems. The inspected sample should be “statistically significant” to ensure a comprehensive review.

If the inspection reveals any immediate threats to life and safety, these findings must be reported promptly to both the city building department and the HOA board.

Following the inspection, the inspector is required to prepare a detailed report, complete with repair recommendations. This report must be signed by the inspector and presented to the HOA board. The board is then responsible for budgeting for and completing any necessary repairs based on the report’s findings.

What might happen if I don't follow the rules set by the SB326 Balcony Bill?

Not adhering to the SB326 Balcony Bill can lead to serious consequences. This bill mandates that all balconies, decks, and stairs on homes or buildings of two or more stories must have sturdy railings that are at least 36 inches high from the surface of the balcony or deck.

If these safety standards aren’t met, a building owner or homeowner could face hefty fines or even criminal charges.

Moreover, if any injuries or fatalities occur on the property due to non-compliance, a landlord may be held responsible. Therefore, it’s crucial to abide by this law to ensure everyone’s safety.

Can you explain the procedures followed during an SB-326 inspection?

In an SB-326 inspection, a skilled inspector conducts a thorough examination to identify any possible risks and ensure that the balcony meets the bill’s stipulations.

They scrutinize the construction of the balcony, assess handrails for safety, confirm effective waterproofing, and inspect for signs of deterioration.

If they detect any problems, the inspector will furnish a comprehensive report to the homeowner or property manager, suggesting any required repairs.

Contact DrBalcony for a professional inspection!

Ensure the safety of your balcony and living space with DrBalcony - We're a Tech Engineering firm that specializes in California SB326 & SB721 balcony inspections.  Over 300+ completed projects in California.

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