If you’re an apartment owner or apartment manager in California, you’ve probably heard about SB 721. But if you haven’t, this new law, which was passed in 2018, requires that any buildings in California with three or more dwelling units have their exterior elevated elements (balconies, decks, exterior staircases, etc.) inspected by January 1, 2025, and every six years thereafter.
Probably the most important part of complying with SB 721 is finding a qualified inspector. According to the law:
“The inspection shall be performed by a licensed architect; licensed civil or structural engineer; 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’ experience, as a holder of the aforementioned classifications or licenses, in constructing multistory wood frame buildings; or an individual certified as a building inspector or building official from a recognized state, national, or international association, as determined by the local jurisdiction. These individuals shall not be employed by the local jurisdiction while performing these inspections.”
Just like any law passed by the State of California, there are a lot of details in SB 721. You want to make sure you hire an inspector who is well versed in the law’s requirements, including what needs to be inspected, what needs to be included in the ensuing report, and what needs to happen should the inspection reveal the need for repairs.
A word of advice: Don’t use your go-to general contractor as an inspector if you’re anticipating repairs, even if he or she qualifies as an inspector. Your inspector and the person performing the repairs cannot be the same person, according to SB 721. The law specifically states: “No recommended repair shall be performed by a licensed contractor serving as the inspector.” In other words, if you have a trusted general contractor who you will want to make any needed repairs, you will need to find a separate inspector. In addition, your general contractor may have little to no interest in doing the inspection, especially because it would require them to complete a follow-up report.
At DTS, we have a team of professionals who can serve as SB 721 inspectors, including architects, engineers, and general contractors. If you use someone from our team as your inspector, you are under no obligation to use one of our general contractors for any needed repairs. However, we do have qualified and trusted general contractors that we can highly recommend, if you don’t already have someone in mind to complete the work. Our general contractors are all lead-safe certified, which is a requirement for any contractor working on a building that was built before 1978.
DTS will create a customized solution for your specific needs when it comes to SB 721 compliance. We can set you up with just an inspector who will complete the inspection and the necessary reports. We can connect you with a qualified general contractor who will obtain the needed permits and complete the repair work on your exterior elevated elements. Or we can handle everything from start to finish—from inspection all the way through the repair process. We will make sure you are in complete compliance with SB 721 and that you have all the paperwork necessary to prove it!
If you have any questions about SB 721, or if you would like to hear more about how DTS can make sure your apartment building is in compliance, contact our office today.