Everything You Need to Know About SB721

California Deck & Balcony Inspection Requirements

What brought about SB721? 

In 2015 there was a tragic balcony collapse in Berkeley, CA which resulted in the deaths of six people and injuries to several others. It was found the cause of the collapse was wood decay of the structural wood framing supporting the balcony.  

What are exterior elevated elements (EEE)? 

According to SB721, Exterior elevated elements are defined as the following types of structures, including their supports and railings: balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways and entry structures that extend beyond exterior walls of the building and which have a walking surface that is elevated more than six feet above ground level, are designed for human occupancy or use, and rely in whole or in substantial part on wood or wood-based products for structural support stability of the exterior elevated element. 

When does the first inspection have to be completed? 

The deadline to complete the first inspection is January 1, 2025 and every six years thereafter. 

Why schedule the inspection now? 

With SB721 applying to apartment buildings statewide, the number of buildings that will require this inspection is significant and as we get closer to the deadline, it will become increasingly difficult and expensive to schedule an inspection with a qualified inspector.   

How many EEEs need to be inspected? 

The law requires that at least 15% of each type of EEE is inspected at the property.

If my building has only two units does it need to be inspected? 

No, per SB721, only buildings with three or more dwelling units need to be inspected. 

What type of inspection will you do?  

We will perform a non-invasive visual inspection of the EEEs of the building. 

What can you determine with a visual inspection?  

There are many things we can determine with a visual inspection such as stains indicating moisture intrusion; if the decking has the proper sloping to allow water to run off; if the decking has proper drainage; condition of the decking surface, if the railing is structurally sound, if the railings are tall enough by modern standards, if the stairs are properly attached and properly sealed, etc.  

What happens if damage is found during the inspection? 

This will depend on the type of damage found and whether the damage poses an immediate safety risk to the occupants. If there is an immediate safety risk found, the inspector must provide the report to the owner and local enforcement agency within 15 days and the owner of the building must perform required preventative measures immediately. If the damage found does not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants, the owner will need to apply for a permit within 120 days of receiving the report and once the permit is approved, has 120 days to make the repairs.** 

Can you do the repair work? 

We do not perform the repair work, however we can assist you with finding a reputable company that can assist you with this work.  

Who receives a copy of the inspection report? 

The written report must be sent to the owner of the building within 45 days of completing the inspection. If the inspector finds that an Exterior Elevated Element poses an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants then the report must 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. 

** Some cities and counties may have stricter or different time frames on how quickly the repairs will need to be made.  

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This one-of-a-kind report stands for “Reliable Inspection for Systems Knowledge.” It is a five year breakdown which sequences the costs for the buyer. This report establishes the useful life and replacement costs of the five major systems in any commercial property. These systems include structure, roof, plumbing, electrical, heating & air. These reports specify the current conditions of your building and details the costs to expect in the next five years.

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