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Insider's Guide to California Balcony Inspection Law

Balconies are not just picturesque additions to buildings; they are crucial elements that must meet safety standards to protect residents and visitors. In California, the Balcony Inspection Law sets forth specific requirements for multi-family residential buildings, aiming to ensure the structural integrity and safety of these elevated spaces. This insider's guide delves into the intricacies of California's Balcony Inspection Law, shedding light on its requirements and implications for property owners.

Understanding California Inspection Law

After the devastating balcony collapse in Berkeley that claimed the lives of seven students in 2015, Governor Jerry Brown sanctioned Senate Bill No. 721 on September 17, 2018. Dubbed the "Balcony Inspection Law," it became enforceable starting January 1, 2019, with the first round of inspections mandated to be completed by January 1, 2025, this is according to natlawreview.com.

The Balcony Inspection Law encompasses "exterior elevated elements" within multi-family residential structures comprising three or more dwelling units. These inspections are pivotal for identifying potential hazards and ensuring the safety of occupants and visitors alike.

 

Property owners must conduct initial balcony inspections by January 1, 2025, with subsequent inspections mandated every six years thereafter. These timelines are designed to maintain ongoing safety standards and prevent structural deterioration.

What Are the Requirements For California Balcony Inspection Law

The Balcony Inspection Law, governed by Senate Bill No. 721 (SB-721) in California, sets forth specific requirements for the inspection of exterior elevated elements (EEEs) in multi-family residential buildings. Here are the key requirements outlined by the law:

  1. Scope of Inspection: The law mandates the inspection of exterior elevated elements, which include but are not limited to, balconies, decks, stairways, landings, and other similar structures that are exposed to the outdoors and situated at an elevation greater than adjacent surfaces.

  2. Frequency of Inspections: Initial inspections of these exterior elevated elements must be conducted no later than January 1, 2025, for all qualifying multi-family residential buildings. Subsequent inspections are then required every six years thereafter.

  3. Retention of Inspection Reports: Building owners are obligated to retain copies of all inspection reports for a minimum of two inspection cycles, equivalent to twelve years. These reports serve as crucial documentation of the condition and safety compliance of the EEEs within the building.

  4. Disclosure to Buyers: Inspection reports must be made available to any prospective buyers of the building. This disclosure ensures that buyers are informed about the condition of exterior elevated elements before purchasing the property.

  5. Accessibility to Authorities: Building owners must also make these inspection reports accessible to jurisdictional officials upon request. This provision ensures regulatory compliance and transparency regarding the safety status of the building's EEEs.

By adhering to these Balcony Inspection Law requirements, property owners contribute to enhancing the safety and structural integrity of multi-family residential buildings, thereby mitigating potential risks associated with exterior elevated elements.

What Are Exterior Elevated Elements

Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs) are building components that are exposed to outdoor conditions and are positioned at an elevation higher than adjacent surfaces. They encompass various features such as stairways, balconies, decks, outdoor walkways, ramps, and landings. These elements must undergo assessments in compliance with the guidelines established by SB-721/SB-326 to uphold safety standards.


According to sanjoseca.gov, the law is for apartment buildings with three or more units, as shown below.

Photo source www.sanjoseca.gov

Why It Matters for Everyone 

Safety is crucial for everyone involved in a building. For investors, it means protecting their money and ensuring the building is a secure investment. This also ensures the safety of everyone who uses the building, from tenants to visitors. For tenants, living in a safe place is a basic right.

Owners should keep tenants informed about safety checks and promptly address any issues discovered during inspections. This creates a safer and more comfortable living environment for everyone.

Conclusion

Following the California Balcony Inspection Law is important for everyone's safety. It's about keeping buildings safe and in good shape. If you need more help or info, reach out. Let's keep our buildings safe and enjoyable for everyone!

Need help navigating these requirements? My team and I have connections to trusted vendors like contractors, structural engineers, and architects. Let's ensure your compliance together. Call us now at (415) 875-0177 or send Hanna an email at [email protected] to get started.

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During his past experiences, Hanna John has gained particularly strong knowledge and hands-on experience in maneuvering complex multi-faceted value-add investments.
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