Balconies are an important feature of many properties in California, offering a space for relaxation and outdoor enjoyment. However, they also come with the responsibility of balcony inspections for property managers & building owners. But why is it necessary to inspect balconies? Well, regular inspections are essential for several reasons.
Firstly, these inspections help identify potential safety hazards, ensuring the well-being of residents and visitors. Additionally, examination of balconies helps detect wear and tear, preventing costly repairs down the line. In this guide, we will explain the importance of balcony inspection for property managers and building owners in the Golden State.
Why Is Balcony Inspection Compulsory for Property Managers & Building Owners?
In response to the tragic balcony collapse incident resulting in the unfortunate loss of seven students in Berkeley in 2015, Governor Jerry Brown endorsed Senate Bill No. 721 on September 17, 2018. Commonly known as the “Balcony Inspection Law,” the law officially took effect on January 1, 2019, signifying a significant step towards enhanced building safety and tenant protection.
The reasons behind the compulsion for balcony safety inspection are multifold:
Preventing Tragedies: The Berkeley balcony collapse served as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of neglecting balcony safety. These examinations are essential to identify and address structural issues or deterioration before they escalate into life-threatening situations.
Protecting Tenants: Property managers and building owners have a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe living environment for their tenants. Regular balcony inspections California help ensure tenant safety, reduce liability, and maintain a positive reputation in the real estate market.
Extending Building Lifespan: Timely maintenance can extend the lifespan of balconies and the overall structural integrity of the building. This, in turn, protects the investment value of the property.
Insurance Requirements: Many insurance companies now require proof of balcony inspections as a prerequisite for coverage. Failure to meet these requirements can result in higher insurance premiums or even denial of coverage.
What Are the Requirements Imposed by the Balcony Inspection Law?
This law mandates the inspection of “exterior elevated elements” within multi-family residential buildings in California that consist of three or more dwelling units. Initial assessments must be completed by no later than January 1, 2025, and subsequent inspections should be carried out at intervals of six years.
Building owners must retain copies of all inspection reports for at least two cycles, equivalent to twelve years. These reports must be made available to prospective buyers of the building and, upon request, to jurisdictional authorities. While the Balcony Inspection Law outlines minimum repair requirements at the state level, it is essential to note that local jurisdictions may impose more stringent inspection criteria.
What Constitutes a Balcony Inspection Checklist?
A balcony safety inspection checklist is an exhaustive inventory of elements that property managers or building proprietors must scrutinize while assessing the balconies of their structure. This checklist thoroughly evaluates critical balcony attributes, encompassing structural integrity, material composition, connections, and overall safety considerations.
Complete Balcony Inspection Checklist
- Review prior inspection reports and maintenance records.
- Verify compliance with current building codes and regulations.
- Gather data regarding balcony construction materials.
- It’s essential to recognize that many Exterior Elevated Elements (EEE’s) are constructed with concrete slabs supported by wood floor joists, even if the wood components are not immediately visible.
- If there is uncertainty regarding whether a building falls within the scope of the Law, it is advisable to consult a qualified professional capable of conducting inspections.
Who Is Qualified to Conduct These Inspections?
To comply with the balcony inspections California Law’s requirements, building owners are obligated to engage one of the following professionals to perform the inspection:
- A licensed architect.
- 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 of experience.
- A licensed civil or structural engineer.
- An individual certified as a building inspector or building official from a recognized state, national, or international association, as determined by the local jurisdiction.
Consequences of Non-Adherence to California’s Balcony Regulations
California has enshrined the stipulations of Senate Bills SB-721 and SB-326, which delineate the obligations for balcony inspection and upkeep in multi-family residential structures. Neglecting compliance with these directives can lead to the following repercussions:
- Imposition of fines and fees due to non-compliance.
- The potential suspension or revocation of permits held by the building owner.
- Exposure to potential legal liabilities in cases of accidents or injuries linked to balcony safety.
- It is of utmost importance for property managers and building owners to acquaint themselves with these legislations and ensure that their properties adhere to all mandated standards.
What Happens If Damage Is Identified During the Inspection?
The inspector will assess whether the damage poses an immediate safety threat to the occupants. In cases of imminent safety risks, building owners must promptly mitigate these risks, which may involve preventing access to affected areas, shoring, and executing emergency repairs. If the damage does not present a safety risk, building owners have 120 days from receiving the inspection report to apply for a permit to perform the necessary repairs.
After permit approval, they are granted an additional 120 days to complete the required repairs. Extensions for repair timelines are subject to approval by local building departments. A qualified and licensed contractor must carry out all repair and replacement work in compliance with the Balcony Law, which cannot be performed by the contractor who conducted the inspection.
The meticulous adherence to a balcony inspection checklist is paramount for property managers and building owners to ensure the integrity and safety of their structures. Regular inspections that encompass crucial aspects such as structural robustness, material quality, and overall safety can identify potential issues early, preventing accidents and mitigating the need for costly repairs. It is worth noting that selecting high-quality components for a building, including vents, is essential in maintaining its overall functionality and safety.
As a noteworthy addition, Vulcan Vents, a reputable vent manufacturer in California, can play a crucial role in providing reliable ventilation solutions that contribute to the longevity and safety of building structures. Our commitment to excellence in balcony inspection vents design and manufacturing adds a valuable layer of assurance to the overall integrity of the building, aligning with the proactive approach advocated by regular inspections.