The Mandatory Deck Inspection Bill (SB326)
This new law will have a significant effect on Common Interest Developments (CIDs) through the State of California. The bill was introduced as a response to the Berkeley balcony collapse in the Library Gardens Apartments on June 16, 2015, when thirteen pupils fell forty feet by a fifth-floor balcony which collapsed, killing six and injuring seven.
The cause of the collapse was ascertained by the California Contractors State License Board to be”Dry rot across the top of the joists suggests long-term humidity saturation…of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) in direct contact with the joists. Additional locations of water damage and dry rot were discovered on the wall OSB sheathing and the surface of the doubled deck joists across the deck edge to wall port by severely rotted structural support joists.”
Scope & Purpose of Inspection Bill-SB326
The objective of the inspection is to”ascertain whether the skin elevated components are during a normally safe condition and performing per applicable standards.”
The Inspector shall conduct a visual inspection in a”statically significant” random sample of places to supply 95% percent confidence the sample results are reflective of the entire project’s state.
Together with the development of building codes and legislation in the past century, construction security is now ubiquitous in America. The majority of the public assume that buildings are secure. That assumption today is barely challenged unless there are very clear indicators that portion of the construction is in corrosion or disrepair.
But, there are elements of a building that frequently continue to have recorded failures that cause harm to occupants: balconies, decks, porches, and staircases. According to the data compiled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, constructions such as balconies and decks failures have generated tens of thousands of accidents annually (recorded by emergency room visits).
A visual inspection is defined as”the least intrusive method needed to inspect load-bearing elements, including visual observation only or visual monitoring along with, as an instance, using moisture meters, borescopes, or infrared technologies.”
But if the Inspector observes conditions that indicate water intrusion additional inspection is needed, as well as the Inspector”shall exercise their best professional judgment in determining the requirement, scope, and breadth of any additional inspection.”
What Are Exterior Elevated Elements?
An Exterior Elevated Element (EEE) Inspection is a structural element of a building (including supports, associated waterproofing systems, and railings) that has the following properties:
- It extends beyond a building’s exterior walls
- It’s designed for human use
- Has a walking surface over 6 feet above floor level
- They include balconies, decks, porches, stairways, paths, and entrance structures.
It sounds vague and confusing until you read §5551(a)(1) and §5551(a)(3) which unpacks the nested definitions:
- “Associated waterproofing systems” embody flashings, membranes, coatings, and sealants that defend the supporting parts of exterior elevated parts from exposure to water.
- “Load-bearing components” means those elements that go beyond the exterior walls of the building to supply structural loads into the building from decks, balconies, stairways, paths, and their railings, that have a walking surface raised over six feet above ground level, that’s intended for human occupancy or use, and that’s supported in whole or in substantial part by timber or wood-based products.
Along with inspecting EEEs, another significant change implemented by the bill is that no HOA governing documents can inflict any preconditions or limitations on the board’s ability to commence and pursue legal proceedings against the developer or builder. It also nullifies any existing conditions in associations’ covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs)
Who Can Perform EEE Inspections?
According to SB 326, there are only two professions who can perform Exterior Elevated Element inspections :
- Licensed Architect
- Licensed Structural Engineer
The main reason why contractors/certified inspectors are not contained in SB 326 is the inspector is needed to stamp the review report (meaning that they are taking legal responsibility as a licensed practitioner that the report is correct as possible according to the applicable codes).
Which Sort of Reporting is Needed?
A written report supplied by the inspector and integrated into the book study of the Association and must be preserved for two inspection cycles at the Association records and is required to include the following advice:
(1) Identification of the load-bearing elements and related waterproofing system.
(2) The present physical status of the load-bearing elements and related waterproofing system, including if the condition presents a direct threat to the health and safety of the residents.
(3) The anticipated future performance and remaining useful life of the load-bearing parts and related waterproofing system.
(4) Recommendations for any necessary replacement or repair of those load-bearing components and related waterproofing system.
If the Inspector advises that any of the outside elevated elements pose a direct threat to the security of the occupants, the Inspector will give a copy of the review report to the institution immediately upon completion of the report, and also to the local code enforcement agency within 15 days. The association is needed to take immediate preventative action including restricting access to the elements until repairs are completed.
What Type of Repairs Must be Completed?
After receipt of this report, the Association shall take”preventative measures immediately” including preventing occupant access to the outside elevated element until repairs are inspected and approved by the local enforcement agency.
The law further provides that the continuing and ongoing maintenance and repair of the load-bearing components and related waterproofing systems in a secure, functional, and sanitary condition shall be the duty of the Association as required by the institution’s governing documents.
What Proportion Of EEE Requires Inspection?
The objective of the inspection is to”ascertain whether the outside elevated components are in a normally safe condition and performing according to applicable standards.”
For those not well versed in statistics, this implies for smaller buildings and complexes almost all EEEs need to be inspected while bigger associations a significant percentage will nevertheless be looked at.
Are There Any Record-Keeping Requirements?
The inspector will issue a report of the findings together with photos sufficient to record the terms of the construction elements as a baseline for future inspections and to make a historic record.
For SB 326, the EEE review report is stamped by the skilled and it gets incorporated in the HOA’s Reserve Study. The association should maintain copies of at least two review cycles worth of review reports in their permanent records.
There are two other relevant statements in §17973 the institution ought to know about: one is”following inspection reports will incorporate copies of previous inspection reports, such as locations of outside elevated elements inspected.” The second is that the law allows local authorities to determine whether the report should be submitted to them.
When are the Inspections Required?
The first inspections must be performed by 1/1/2025 and each nine decades thereafter.
- There’s a considerable threat to waiting as the statute allows local authorities or authorities agencies to enact an ordinance or other rule imposing requirements greater than the statute.
- The statute is vague and changes much of the responsibility for compliance with the I. These professionals that have to stamp the report will most likely need intrusive/destructive testing to follow the intent of this statute.
- The reports will become part of the permanent records of this Association, reports suggesting potential problems with construction may negatively affect the value of their community.
- Inspect early
- to reduce and mitigate harm
- prevent the last-minute rush that will occur close to the deadline
- enables time to deliver SB800 claims for defects found
The initial inspection must happen before January 1, 2025, and then must be performed every 9 years after that.
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