In August 2019, Senate Bill 326 (SB 326) was signed into law, which amends the Davis-Sterling Common Interest Development Act. This act outlines the duties and responsibilities of condo associations and individual condo owners with regard to the maintenance and repair of common and exclusive use areas. The new bill adds the requirement that associations of all California condominium complexes with three or more units have their complexes’ balconies and decks regularly inspected. The first inspection, for just about every condo complex in California, is required to be completed by January 1, 2025, and every nine years thereafter.
The January 1, 2025 deadline for the inspections to be completed will be here before we know it, and there is no reason to wait until the last minute to start the inspection process. If you are part of a condo association board in Orange County or Los Angeles, you can have your inspections done now and gain peace of mind, knowing that you are in compliance with SB 326. Putting off scheduling the required inspections could mean that you miss the deadline due to inspectors being booked. Missing the deadline could subject your association to steep fines from your local enforcement agency.
DTS: Your Source for Condo Balcony Inspections in Orange County and Los Angeles
DTS is a trusted resource for condo associations in Orange County and Los Angeles and the only company you need to work with in order to bring your association into compliance with SB 326!
When you work with DTS, we will connect your condo association with qualified professionals who can complete all the necessary inspections and reports, as well as any needed repairs to your condo complex’s balconies. Our team is made up of architects, engineers, and contractors who all have many years of relevant experience and are licensed in the State of California.
DTS is a company that specializes in helping small businesses stay in compliance with city, county, and state regulations. This makes us uniquely qualified to handle all the requirements associated with SB 326. We will work with your association board to make sure all inspections, reports, and repairs are completed in a timely manner. This will allow your association to avoid fines and ensure that the condo complex’s exterior elevated elements are safe for all the condo owners within the association.
A Note from DTS Founder, Jim Diaz
“When I founded DTS, I did so to be a helpful resource for those who needed help complying with various local, state, and federal regulations. Those who serve on the boards of condo associations don’t always have the time or expertise to research every regulation that applies to them and figure out how to be in compliance. That’s where DTS steps in.
My team has worked hard to understand what SB 326 requires of condo association boards and management companies, and we have put together resources to help meet those requirements.
If you serve on the board of a condo association in Orange County or Los Angeles with three or more units, I highly encourage you to contact us soon to get the inspection process started so your condo association will be in compliance well in advance of the January 2025 deadline. We anticipate that most association boards will wait until the 4th quarter of 2024 to begin inquiring about the required inspections. By then, it may be difficult to find someone who is available to take on the task before the deadline. You can also avoid “rush fees” and fines by getting your inspections done early.
While most local jurisdictions have not yet published their fine structure for condo associations that don’t complete their inspections before the deadline, the fines will likely be steep. Local jurisdictions may see SB 326 as an easy way to take in some extra money and won’t hesitate to levy steep fines starting January 2, 2025. A condo association in Orange County or Los Angeles could be fined several hundred dollars, per day, per balcony until the inspections are completed!
Contact us at DTS today to learn more about how we can help. We offer competitive rates for condo balcony inspections in Orange County and Los Angeles that meet all of SB 326’s guidelines.”
Frequently Asked Questions About SB 326: California’s Condo Balcony Inspection Bill
SB 326 contains a lot of details. Even after reading the bill in its entirety, you probably still have some questions about what your condo association needs to do to be in compliance. Below are some frequently asked questions, as well as some answers, to help you understand what is now required of California condo association boards and management companies:
Why Are Condo Balcony Inspections Required in California?
In June 2015, a deck collapsed in downtown Berkeley at the Library Gardens Condos, killing six people and injuring seven more. The deck failure was determined to be caused by structural joists that were severely rotted. The investigation also concluded that the accident could likely have been prevented, had the property manager conducted regular inspections and routine maintenance of the decks in the complex, since there were obvious indications of water damage near the collapsed deck.
Senate Bill 326 (SB 326) is the California legislature’s response to this tragic incident. It requires that all California residential buildings with three or more units have their exterior elevated elements inspected regularly. Inspections are required to be completed by condo associations by January 1, 2025 (with very few exceptions). SB 326 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on August 30, 2019.
What Types of Structures Fall Under SB 326?
According to SB 326, inspections need to be completed on a condo complex’s “exterior elevated elements.” Exterior elevated elements are load-bearing structures, such as:
- Entry Structures
The bill defines the elements that need to be inspected as “…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.” Any structure that falls under this definition and is the responsibility of the association to maintain or repair, is subject to SB 326.
In addition, the “associated waterproofing systems” also fall under the bill and need to be inspected. This includes all flashings, membranes, coatings, and sealants that protect the exterior elevated elements from water damage.
If My Condo Complex in Orange County or Los Angeles Is New, Do I Still Need a Balcony Inspection?
For condo complexes that had building permits submitted on or after January 1, 2020, the inspection doesn’t need to be conducted until six years after a certificate of occupancy was issued. So, if your complex was issued its certificate of occupancy on January 1, 2021, you would have until January 1, 2027 to have your first balcony inspection completed.
What Qualifies Someone to Complete a Valid Condo Balcony Inspection?
To satisfy the requirements of SB 326, an inspection must be completed by a licensed structural engineer or a licensed architect. The inspection could also be performed by a certified building inspector who is not employed by the jurisdiction in which the building is located. DTS can connect your condo association board with a qualified inspector who will complete the inspections according to the guidelines set forth in SB 326 and submit the required reports.
How Much Do Condo Balcony Inspections in Orange County and Los Angeles Cost?
The cost of a condo balcony inspection that will put your association in compliance with SB 326 varies based on several factors, such as the number of exterior elevated elements in your condo complex and how easily they can be accessed. You can get an initial estimate when you contact DTS to inquire about a condo balcony inspection.
When Should I Have My Orange County or Los Angeles Condos’ Balconies and Decks Inspected?
The deadline to have the balcony inspections completed in California is January 1, 2025, according to SB 326. However, you may want to start the inspection process well in advance of that date. We believe that as the January 2025 deadline gets closer, many condo associations will be scrambling to get their inspections done, and it may be difficult to find a qualified inspector who has availability at the end of 2024.
Schedule your condo balcony inspection now, and gain peace of mind, knowing that your association is in compliance with SB 326.
What Is the Fine for Not Complying with SB 326?
The California bill does not specify penalties for not having the inspections done by the January 1, 2025 deadline. But since the bill is a state-mandated local program, local jurisdictions (either the city or county, depending on where the complex is located) have the freedom to set their own fine structure for non-compliance. These fines will most likely be steep and may be levied on each balcony, deck, elevated walkway, etc. that has not been inspected by the deadline. The association will be required to pay any fines.
Non-compliance with SB 326 can drain a condo association’s budget in a very short amount of time. Don’t let that happen to your association! Get your balcony inspections done well in advance of the January 1, 2025 deadline and avoid potentially costly fines.
What Must a Balcony Inspector Do, According to SB 326?
At minimum, the person completing the inspection must visually inspect a “random and statistically significant sample of exterior elevated elements for which the association has maintenance or repair responsibilities.” The inspection must include an assessment of the “load-bearing components and associated waterproofing system” of all applicable exterior elevated elements. If any water damage is indicated, the inspector should investigate further.
Following the inspection, a written evaluation will be delivered to the condo association board immediately. The inspector must also deliver a copy to the local code enforcement agency within 15 days of completion if damage was found that poses an immediate threat to occupants. If no damage was found by the inspector, the report can serve as a baseline for future inspections.
What Should a Balcony Inspection Report Include?
According to SB 326, a thorough balcony inspection report needs to include “The current physical condition of the load-bearing components and associated waterproofing system, including whether the condition presents an immediate threat to the health and safety of the residents.” The report should indicate the future performance and remaining useful life of the elements inspected. It must also include recommendations for any needed repairs and advise the association board of any exterior elevated elements that should be immediately restricted from use due to a safety threat.
What Happens if Damage to the Balconies Is Found During the Inspection?
If any of the exterior elevated elements are found to have damage, the balcony inspector is required to submit the report to the local enforcement agency (city or county) within 15 days of the report’s completion.
It is then the responsibility of the of the condo association to make the needed repairs, as required by the association’s governing documents.
How Do I Find a Qualified Inspector for Condo Balconies in Orange County and Los Angeles?
DTS has put together a team of qualified professionals, including architects and structural engineers, who will work with your association board to perform thorough inspections of your condo complex’s exterior elevated elements, per the requirements of SB 326, and who will make honest recommendations about any needed repairs. Their ensuing report will provide a detailed assessment of the condition of your condo complex’s balconies, decks, elevated walkways, exterior staircases, and entry structures.
If, after the inspection, it is determined that repairs are needed, DTS can also connect you with a qualified contractor who will apply for the necessary permits and complete the repairs in a timely manner.
What If I Have Additional Questions About Condo Balcony Inspections or SB 326?
At DTS, we are always happy to get on the phone and talk with you about how we can help your condo association stay in compliance with state and local laws, such as SB 326. We can also answer your initial questions in your free, no-obligation phone call. During your call, we can also give you a quote on the cost of having your condo’s balconies inspected. Contact us today.