March 27, 2024

Understanding The HOA Balcony Law (SB 326) And Its Implications For Property Owners And Homeowner Associations

Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill No. 326 (SB 326) into law on August 30, 2019, adding two new sections to the Civil Code. This law, also known as the Balcony Law, was designed to prevent future collapses by ensuring the structural stability of condominium decks, balconies, and walkways. The law applies to all HOAs or condominium complexes with at least three attached units.

Requirements Of SB 326

Some of the requirements of SB 326 include the following:

  • Covered HOAs must complete initial SB 326 inspections no later than Jan. 1, 2025.
  • Subsequent inspections must be completed at least once every nine years.
  • Inspections must be completed by licensed structural engineers, architects, licensed general contractors, or certified building inspectors.
  • All exterior elevated elements (EEEs) “supported in whole or in substantial part by wood or wood-based products” that are 6 feet or more above ground level must be inspected.
  • The waterproofing systems for each EEE must also be inspected.
  • Inspectors are required to visually inspect a “statistically significant sample” of a building’s EEEs.
  • After a visual inspection, the inspector determines whether further testing is warranted and is required to report any imminent dangers to life and safety.
  • The inspector must prepare a signed, detailed report and present it to the HOA board with the repair recommendations.
  • The HOA board must then budget for the repairs and complete them.

Implications Of Non-Compliance

If you don’t comply with the new law, the code enforcement arm of your local building department can assess fees, recover enforcement costs, and enforce liens against non-compliant properties. Additionally, failing to complete the required SB 326 inspections and repairs could expose you to liability. If the inspections are not completed, condo owners could lose their liability protection extended by their insurance companies for personal injury claims.

Who Can Perform An SB 326 Inspection

All SB 326 inspection findings must be visually observed and confirmed by a licensed architect or engineer. If repairs are needed, the person completing the inspection cannot also be the party performing the repairs.

Methods Used During An SB 326 Inspection

Here are some of the common methods and tools used when performing an SB 326 inspection:

  1. Visual Inspection: The visual inspection is the first and most important component of an SB 326 inspection. The inspector will visually inspect the exposed surfaces of all of the load-bearing elements, their attachment points, guardrails, and how the various components integrate.
  2. Endoscopic Testing: This is a less invasive inspection method that involves drilling a small hole in the underside of the soffit and using borescopes (endoscopic cameras) to inspect the interior of the structure.
  3. Moisture Sensors: These are used to check for moisture intrusion, which can lead to dry rot.

How Pasquini Engineering, Inc. Can Help

The HOA Balcony Law (SB 326) is a crucial piece of legislation that aims to protect property owners from building defects and keep residents safe from hazards due to construction flaws. It is essential for all HOAs to understand and comply with this law to avoid fines, fees, and potential liabilities.

If you need more information about SB 326 or assistance with compliance, please contact Pasquini Engineering, Inc. Our team of experts is here to help you navigate the complexities of this law and ensure the safety and integrity of your property.

 

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