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Are you in need of a balcony repair or other structural support in your building to be in accordance with SB 721 or SB 326?

On September 17, 2018, “The Balcony Bill” formerly known as California Senate Bill 721 was signed into law requiring inspection and possible repairs on all balconies, decks, and stairs that rely in whole or in substantial part on wood structural support in multi-family residential buildings with three or more dwelling units. Condominium conversions sold after January 1, 2019, must also comply with these new requirements. This new law applies to the entire State of California.

The new legislation was set forth following the tragic deaths of six people at an apartment complex in Berkeley when a balcony collapsed. The cause of the June 2015 incident was determined to be the decaying of the structural wood framing that supported the balcony.

“The Balcony Bill” SB 721

The new law describes an exterior elevated element to mean, “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.”

The new law sets minimum inspections and repair requirements for, “exterior elevated elements” (“EEE” as called in the statute), that may need more stringent inspections depending on your local building departments. The result of a wood-based structure may be due to a sagging balcony or having the middle of it bending down because of water damage or wear and tear.

“Common Interest Developments” SB 326

Passed in the summer of August 2019, the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act further clarifies The Balcony Bill regarding responsibility in the case of common interest developments, such as condos or association-owned multi-family dwellings. The law states that the association must hire a licensed structural engineer or architect to inspect the exterior elevated elements before 2025 and every nine years after that.

If the inspection turns up anything that might pose a health or safety risk, the inspector must report it to code enforcement, and the association must “take preventive measures immediately upon receiving the report, including preventing occupant access to the exterior elevated element until repairs have been inspected and approved by the local enforcement agency.”

Do I need an inspection?

Here are four questions to ask yourself whether your building will need an inspection:

  1. Does your building have three or more dwelling units?
  2. Does the element rely substantially on wood or wood-based products for structural support or stability?
  3. Do you have exterior balconies, decks, porches, stairways, walkways, entry structures, or other exterior elements with walking surfaces?
  4. Are the walking surfaces more than six feet above ground level?

If all of your answers are “yes,” your building falls within the scope of the new law requiring you to have an “exterior elevated elements” inspection.

Making Structural Repairs

Our experienced Los Angeles Balcony Repair team at Alpha Structural can help you take care of all your improvement needs and ensure all of the structural repairs like balconies are done up to the required standards as demanded by the bill.

We do not perform the inspection and/or file the paperwork. You will need to hire a licensed architect, civil or structural engineer, or a building contractor holding a specific license as a “B” general contractor or C5 framing, or a properly licensed home inspector.

What we can do is provide you with a bid for any needed structural repairs on your exterior elevated elements. We can perform both the engineering and structural repairs of these elements.

You have 120 days from the day you receive the inspection report to get a permit and an additional 120 days to complete the repairs. You must complete your first inspection by January 1, 2025, with additional ones every six years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if the exterior elevated elements on my building may need structural repairs?

If you have any of the following you may need structural work:

  • The balcony or walkway is sagging.
  • You notice “soft spots” when you walk or stand on your balcony or walkway.
  • Your handrails are loose and don’t feel like they are stable.

If my building is only a few years old, do I still need to have it inspected?

Yes, there are no inspection exceptions if it is within the scope of the “exterior elevated elements” ordinance.

If my balcony is made of concrete, can it be supported by wood?

Yes, there are balconies and decks that can be constructed with concrete slabs but supported by wood floor joints. Alpha Structural can make sure your building fits within the rules of the bill.

What is entailed in the repairs of my building?

There may be various factors that could be affecting your building so it is best to hire a company like Alpha Structural who will be able to recommend and perform what will need to be done to satisfy the demands of the new bill.

Do I need to get work done before an inspection?

Some removal and replacement of finishes may be required to perform the inspection activities if the “exterior elevated elements” are hidden behind finishes.

Do I need a permit to complete the necessary repairs?

Yes, all permits and repairs have to comply with the requirements of the local building department.

What happens if the damage is identified as an immediate safety risk during an inspection?

If the damage poses an immediate safety risk, emergency repairs, shoring, and/or preventing occupant access to the affected areas will need to be mitigated immediately.

How long do I have to get a permit and do the repairs?

All building owners have 120 days from receipt of the inspection report to apply for a permit to do the repairs. All damages will need to be repaired within 120 days after the approval of the permit.

Can I get an extension to do the repairs?

A time extension may be granted by your local building department.

Alpha Structural: Leader in Structural Repairs

Alpha Structural, Inc. is a leader in the field of balcony repairs. With over 25 years of experience, we have been supporting property owners with repairing and improving their structural needs and bringing their buildings up to par with today’s strict building codes.

Alpha Structural is considered among the best companies at balcony repairs Los Angeles has to offer. Our staff has over 850 years of combined experience in structural repairs and upgrades and has been recognized as one of the most trusted and qualified engineering and contracting firms in Los Angeles and Southern California.

You can lean on our skilled team to make the structural improvements, like balcony repairs, you need in accordance with SB 721. We believe in being up-front with you, so call us today at (323) 300-2187 to schedule an appointment and let us take care of your structural repairs.

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