SB721 Inspection Needs: Your Property Safety Checklist

SB721 Inspection Needs Your Property Safety Checklist

If you are living in California, ensuring the safety and compliance of your property’s exterior elevated elements (EEEs), such as balconies, decks, and stairways, is more than just a regulatory requirement—it’s a crucial component of responsible property management. In California, SB721 inspection mandates rigorous inspections to safeguard these structures against potential hazards that could compromise their strength. 

As a property owner or manager, staying informed about and compliant with these regulations is important to maintaining the security of your residents and the longevity of your property. In this blog, we provide you with essential information about the complexities of SB721 inspection and also tell you about how your property safety checklist will benefit you. So, let’s discuss in detail!

What Exactly Does SB721 Require?

Senate Bill 721, often called SB721, acts as a mandatory checkup for your building’s exterior elevated elements (EEEs), including balconies, decks, and walkways, especially those constructed of wood or wood-based products. SB721 inspection law was introduced to ensure the safety and longevity of such structures in residential buildings with three or more multi-family units, aiming to prevent accidents and maintain structural strength over time. 

This law stipulates that all such inspections must be completed by January 1, 2025, ensuring that these structures are assessed for safety and compliance with regulatory standards. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what SB721 requires from start to finish during a balcony inspection in California:

Initial Overview and Assessment

Before discussing specific elements, inspectors begin with a complete overview of the balcony or EEE (Exterior Elevated Elements). This initial assessment sets the stage for a detailed inspection, identifying any apparent issues that need closer examination. They will collect information about the exact location of the building, the city jurisdiction under which the property falls, the name of the owner or the managing entity, the units affected or including EEEs, the orientation of the building, and more.

Inspection of Load-Bearing Components

Load-bearing components are the critical support structures of your balcony. Inspectors examine beams, joists, fasteners, and other structural supports to ensure they do not compromise wear, environmental conditions, or material fatigue. The focus is to verify that these components can sustain the designated loads without risk of failure in the future. Also, check the type and condition of waterproofing materials used.

Inspection of Waterproofing Elements

During the inspection, professionals scrutinize all waterproofing components, including flashing, membranes, and sealants. The goal is to ensure that these elements effectively prevent water intrusion, which can lead to rot, mold, or structural corrosion, ultimately compromising the balcony’s safety. They will also verify the correct placement of materials, proper working of drainage systems, waterproof coating inspection, and identify any signs that suggest water leakage.

Inspection of Guardrails and Railings

Guardrails and railings are crucial for residents’ safety. Inspectors evaluate these components for sturdiness and stability, ensuring they are securely attached and meet height and strength requirements. Any signs of wear, rust, or deterioration that could impair their structural integrity are noted for repair or replacement. They will also verify guardrail heights according to the IRC for residential homes and the IBC for commercial properties. 

Inspection of Walking Surfaces & Stairs

The walking surface of a balcony must be secure and stable. Inspectors look for any signs of distress or damage, such as cracks, splits, or unevenness, that could pose risks of slips or falls. Materials are assessed for weather-related damage or wear that could affect their functionality.

As part of the EEEs, stairs, and associated walkways are scrutinized for safety and structural soundness. This includes checking for consistent step heights, secure railings, and the absence of any loose or damaged components that could lead to accidents.

Review and Reporting

After a thorough inspection, inspectors compile a detailed report outlining any deficiencies or recommendations for maintenance or repair. This report is crucial for property owners to understand the essential steps to ensure compliance with SB721 inspection and maintain the safety and strength of their balconies and other EEEs. Additionally, under SB721, inspectors must present property owners with their findings within 45 days. If repairs are deemed immediately necessary, the inspector must report this to the property owner within 15 days and also provide a copy to local law enforcement. Property owners must retain any inspection reports for at least two inspection cycles. 

[Note: To protect your property from natural disasters like wildfires and comply with SB721 inspection, you can install balcony inspection vents.]

Why is It Essential to Use a Balcony Inspection Checklist? 

The Balcony Inspection Checklist provides numerous advantages that contribute to building safety, compliance, and overall maintenance management:

Enhanced Safety Assurance 

The primary benefit of utilizing a balcony inspection checklist is safety assurance. Regular inspections ensure that balconies remain structurally sound and devoid of hazards. This systematic examination helps identify potential risks such as unstable railings, cracked flooring, and water leaks, which, if unchecked, could lead to accidents or injuries. By proactively addressing these issues, the checklist is crucial in preventing hazardous conditions.

Ensured Compliance with Regulations 

Adhering to a detailed inspection checklist aids in compliance with local building codes, various industry standards, and safety regulations related to balcony construction and maintenance. This not only ensures the safety and well-being of the occupants but also significantly reduces the risk of legal liabilities that can arise from non-compliance with mandated norms.

Facilitated Maintenance Planning 

The checklist is an invaluable tool for identifying maintenance needs and determining repair priorities. Property managers can plan and execute necessary repairs by pinpointing specific issues like loose railings, drainage problems, or damaged surfaces during inspections. This proactive maintenance not only extends the balcony’s lifespan but also prevents costly repairs or complete replacements in the future.

Increased Resident Satisfaction 

Regular inspections and timely maintenance of balconies enhance the overall condition and safety of these spaces, leading to increased satisfaction among residents. A well-maintained balcony offers a safe and comfortable outdoor area, contributing positively to the residents’ living experience and satisfaction with their living environment.

Preservation of Property Value

Consistent balcony inspections and maintenance also play a critical role in preserving and potentially enhancing the property’s value. A balcony that is both structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing boosts the curb appeal of residential and commercial buildings alike, contributing to higher market values and attracting potential buyers or renters.


In California, SB721 inspection requires property owners to conduct detailed safety inspections of balconies, decks, and other high areas to prevent accidents and ensure they’re safe to use. These inspections are vital for spotting any potential problems like weak structures or water damage. Property owners need to keep these inspection reports for a couple of inspection cycles as part of their responsibility to maintain their properties safely.

Adding balcony inspection vents from Vulcan Vents can be an excellent step for property owners looking to boost safety. These vents protect buildings from wildfires by blocking embers and flames from entering through vents. This can be especially useful for areas like balconies that are exposed to the outside. By using our vents, owners not only follow safety regulations but also protect their buildings against fire hazards, making their properties safer and more durable against natural threats. Contact Us Today!

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