CALIFORNIA'S BALCONY & DECK INSPECTION LAWS
Senate Bill No. 721
California Senate Bill No. 721 (SB-721), was approved on September 17, 2018. This law was in response
to the Berkeley balcony collapse in 2015. During the collapse thirteen people were severely injured or killed.
This law requires that all Apartments with buildings, containing three or more multi-family dwelling units, have
the Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs) inspected by a Licensed Architect, Civil or Structural Engineer
by January 1st, 2025 and then at least once every six years thereafter to determine whether the EEE's are
in a generally safe condition and performing in accordance with applicable standards.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What are Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs)?
What are the requirements of SB-721?
Prior to conducting the first visual inspection, the inspector is required to generate a random list of the locations of each type of exterior elevated element. The list shall include all exterior elevated elements for which the association has maintenance or repair responsibility. The list shall be provided to the association for future use.
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When do inspections need to be completed by?
Inspections must be completed by January 1st, 2025 and then every 6 years thereafter.
Buildings that are permitted after January 1, 2020 need to have their first inspection within 6 years after certificate of occupancy.
Who is required to complete the inspections?
The inspection shall be performed by a Licensed Architect; Licensed Civil or Structural Engineer; a Building Contractor holding any or all of the “A,” “B,” or “C-5” license classifications issued by the Contractors’ State License Board, with a minimum of five years’ experience, as a holder of the aforementioned classifications or licenses, in constructing multistory wood frame buildings; or an individual certified as a building inspector or building official from a recognized state, national, or international association, as determined by the local jurisdiction.
What needs to be inspected?
Components that extend beyond the exterior walls of the building to deliver structural loads to the building from decks, balconies, stairways, walkways, and their railings, that have a walking surface elevated more than six feet above ground level, that are designed for human occupancy or use, and that are supported in whole or in substantial part by wood or wood-based products.
Will Destructive Testing be necessary?
If during the visual inspection the inspector observes building conditions indicating that unintended water or water vapor has passed into the associated waterproofing system, thereby creating the potential for damage to the load-bearing components, then the inspector may conduct a further inspection. The inspector shall exercise their best professional judgment in determining the necessity, scope, and breadth of any further inspection.
Whats included in the report?
The written report shall include:
1) Current condition of the Exterior Elevated Elements,
2) Expectations of future performance and projected service life,
3) Recommendations of any further inspection necessary,
4) Photographs and test results (if any), and
5) Stamp/signature of the inspector.
What if the Inspector observes life-saftey concerns?
If the inspection reveals conditions that pose an immediate hazard to the safety of the occupants, the inspection report must be delivered to the owner of the building within 15 days and emergency repairs be undertaken, as specified, with notice given to the local enforcement agency.
The non-emergency repairs made under these provisions would be required to be completed within 120 days, unless an extension is granted by the local authorities.