SB 721 is the California State Balcony Inspection Law
SB 721 (Chapter 445, Stats. 2018) was signed by Governor Brown in response to the 2015 Berkeley balcony collapse. While some local governments already impose a local inspection program, this California law requires inspection of specific balconies throughout the State of California. Here’s what you need to know:
What Buildings Must be Inspected?
Buildings with 3 or more units that have:
- Balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways, and entry structures that extend beyond exterior walls of the building and that rely in whole or in substantial part on wood or wood-based products for structural support or stability; and
- A walking surface that is elevated more than 6 feet above the ground level; and
- Balconies designed for human occupancy or use.
Buildings that are proposed for conversion to condominiums to be sold to the public after January 1, 2019, must be inspected prior to the first close of escrow.
When Must the Buildings be Inspected?
Inspections of the balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways, and entries as described above must be inspected by January 1, 2025, with certain exceptions, and requires subsequent inspections every 6 years. The inspection of buildings for which a building permit application has been submitted on or after January 1, 2019, shall occur no later than 6 years following issuance of a certificate of occupancy from the local jurisdiction and shall otherwise comply with the provisions of this law.
If the property was inspected within 3 years prior to January 1, 2019, by an inspector as described in the law and a report of that inspector was issued stating that the exterior elevated elements and associated waterproofing elements are in proper working condition and do not pose a threat to the health and safety of the public, no new inspection shall be required until January 1, 2025.
Who Can Perform the Inspections?
- Licensed civil or structural engineer,
- General Contractor holding any or all A, B, or C-5 Licenses issued by the Contractors State License Board;
- Individuals certified as a building inspector or building official, as specified; (these individuals cannot be employed by the local jurisdiction while performing these inspections).
What Must the Inspection Cover?
The inspection required by this law must, at a minimum, include:
- Identification of each exterior elevated element or associated waterproofing elements that, if found to be defective, decayed, or deteriorated to the extent that it does not meet its load requirements, would, in the opinion of the inspector, constitute a threat to the health or safety of the occupants.
- “Associated waterproofing elements” are defined to mean flashings, membranes, coatings, and sealants that protect the load-bearing components of exterior elevated elements from exposure to water and the elements.
- Assessments of elevated elements using methods allowing for evaluation of their performance by direct visual examination or comparable means of evaluating their performance. For purposes of this section, a sample of at least 15 percent of each type of exterior elevated element shall be inspected.
- The evaluation and assessment shall address each of the following as of the date of the evaluation:
- The current condition of the exterior elevated elements.
- Expectations of future performance and projected service life.
- Recommendations for any further inspection necessary.
- Recommendations of any necessary repair or replacement.