The Senate Bill 326 Balcony Bill is from August 30, 2019. It is the result of a tragedy in 2015 involving young adults at a birthday party when the balcony structure they were on collapsed, killing five and injuring seven. One of the seven also died later from injuries.
The tragedy began a series of events that culminated in the bill that took effect in 2020. The law effectively amends the Civil Code Section 5551.
SB 326 seeks to protect property owners from building defects. It also keeps residents safe from danger due to flaws in construction. Your homeowners’ association (HOA) needs to comply with this law. Otherwise, it will result in hefty fines and fees you may not be ready to pay. Here is what you need to know about SB 326 Balcony Bill.
Associations need to make visual inspections of all raised elements that extend beyond the exterior walls. It means all load-bearing components that are six feet above the ground. These include decks, walkways, patios, and balconies. They need to ensure the structures are in a good and safe condition. They should be constructed after applicable standards.
The cause of the balcony collapse in 2015 was rotting in the load-bearing elements. As an association, you will need to inspect all elevated wood components. Check everything. It includes waterproofing protecting all the structural elements. Check if there is any dry rot or moisture damage. The inspection is visual. However, it may also include a borescope, moisture meters, and an infrared device.
Licensed structural engineers should lead the inspection. Before it happens, associations should set the internal procedures to help accomplish the task rolling. They should do their budgeting and include a provision for any substantial repairs. Afterward, they can hire a structural engineer to carry out the inspection.
The inspector does not need to sample all the balconies. However, the sampling needs to be significant. It needs to provide 95 percent confidence that the sample represents the whole. After the inspection, the engineer will write and present a report to the board.
The deadline is no later than the first day of January 2025. It may seem far off, but associations now have three years to comply. Therefore, it is wise to start planning for the inspections now.
These components are exempt from inspection. However, double-check to avoid assumptions that may lead to tragedies and fines.
The law applies to all properties with more than three units in a building. Associations with less than three units or duplexes are exempt.
Nothing may happen until there is a tragedy resulting in injuries. It will result in severe liability for the association and the board. Do not wait until this happens. Plan now for your inspection.
For more information on SB 326, visit AD Magellan Construction Planning and Management at our Vista, California, office. You can call (877) 899-5990 to book an appointment today.