We Are Now Offering Building Wellness Exams For HOA’s

Is your building envelope healthy and thriving? Or is your building envelope suffering from the constant assaults by Mother Nature, wear and tear, neglect and age? Property Condition Assessments are the official name for what we term a Building Wellness Exam. With our Building Wellness Exam, you’ll know how your building envelope’s health is doing. What is a building envelope you might ask? Simply put, a building envelope consists of the various waterproofing and water resistant products that keep your buildings dry and habitable.

Roofs, siding, decks etc are all part of a building envelope. Separate items, they must all work together to shed water away and out of a building. If they don’t work together, or if they aren’t maintained, repaired and replaced when necessary, failures can cause massive problems at massive costs to repair.

Our Building Wellness Checkups, based on ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments, don’t cost a lot but they can save you a lot of money and trouble by getting your building maintenance issues under control. Learn more at our new web page here and get started today to keep your buildings healthy! Call us or send us a message using our contact form on the left side of the page.

The SB 326 Balcony Inspection Industry is Awash With Clowns

“Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want
Sorry, my dear!
But where are the clowns
Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here…” (lyrics by Stephen Sondheim)

I have noticed more and more deck waterproofing and general contracting companies that are suddenly becoming SB 326 balcony inspectors. They try to disguise themselves as balcony inspectors, but the giveaway as to what their true intentions are obvious when you start looking at their websites and offerings…

I see one company in Los Angeles that advertises 50% off balcony inspections; “savings” are applied to repairs…

I see a deck inspection company in Palm Springs that is owned by the same person who owns a waterproofing company out there…

I see a company in Los Angeles that is named after an African animal that looks like a horse saying that they will start demoing your decks and then have the structural engineer come inspect…

Watch out for clowns!

Currently the industry is under assault by less than ethical contractors who mislead their clients, use illegal contracts, have attorneys on their payroll that enforce illegal contracts and are just seeking to separate you from your reserve accounts.

They hide behind their reports which are written to suit their needs to try to force you to replace perfectly good balconies by saying that their useful life is a year or less. They use scare tactics, high pressure and lawyers that have the ethics of cockroaches.

When sorting the wheat from the chafe in finding a balcony inspector one must be diligent. Do background checks on the company You can use the secretary of state’s business portal to find who owns what, check Yelp and Google reviews, ask for references, check with other HOA managers about their experience. Insist that your balcony inspector sign a no conflict of interest statement. Insist that your balcony inspector has no ownership interest in any waterproofing or contracting company.

We here at William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC guarantee that we have no conflicts of interest in owning a waterproofing company, any material manufacturer or have any conflicts of interest that would interfere with putting the HOA’s best interest ahead of ours. Reach out today, we don’t have any clowns here.

Do My Decks, Stairs Walkways or Balcony’s Need To Be Inspected?

Lots of people are confused about the SB 326 balcony bill. Inspectors sometimes are too. We get lots of questions about whether an Association EEE’s must be inspected under the bills inspection requirements.

To make it a little easier we compiled this series of photographs showing what types of EEE’s must be inspected and which are exempt. We hope this helps a bit in understanding.

Do you need an SB 326 deck inspection? Call me, Bill Leys, The Deck Inspector today at 805-801-2380 to discuss and set up an appointment to personally evaluate your Associations EEE’s as to whether they must be inspected or if they are exempt.

Starting with decks ad balconies, here are some examples that need to be inspected….

This is a wood framed cantilevered balcony. It is eligible to be inspected under SB326.
This is a stucco covered cantilevered balcony. This is required to be inspected under SB 326.
This balcony, even though it only partially extends past the building, is required to be inspected under SB 326
These stacked balconies need to be inspected under the balcony bill
This balcony is extended out and supported by wood framing, it needs to be inspected under
SB-326.
This is a cantilevered wood framed balcony; it must be inspected under SB 326.
There’s actually 3 balconies here that must be inspected under SB 326.
This type pf balcony is eligible for inspection under SB 326. Only 3 walls support it, where 4 are required to exempt the balcony from inspection.

Next are examples of stairs and landings that need to be inspected, with one example of steel stairs that don’t need to be inspected (but the connection of them to the wood framing does need to be inspected).

So here we have concrete stairs attached to wood framing. The stairs need to be inspected under SB 326. Often times we will find dry-rot starting in the bottom where the wood contacts the concrete.
Here is a wood framed landing 6′ or more off the ground. This is eligible for inspection under SB 326. Note that the stairs are concrete with steel framing. These do not need to be inspected, but the connection too the wood framing does need to be inspected.
These stairs are required to be inspected under SB 326.

Walkways supported by wood framing need to be inspected, such as these examples.

Walkways like these need to be inspected under the SB 326 balcony bill
The walkways shown here are required to be inspected under SB 326.

So what type of deck/balcony/stair or walkway doesn’t need to be inspected? Anything that is less than 6′ high off the ground (don’t be surprised though is it’s 5′ off the ground and we want to inspect it), made of concrete or steel. And any deck supported by 4 walls like this one below. A solid wall (no columns) must support the deck all the way around for it to be exempt.

This balcony is supported by 4 walls and is therefore exempt from the bill. We still suggest that the railings be inspected.
This balcony on the other hand does need to be inspected despite it being recessed in and under a roof, as it is not supported by four walls like the balcony shown above. It is supported by framing across the lower opening (which is a patio on the first floor).

This pictorial is not meant to be exhaustive; if you aren’t sure after looking through our pictures, give a call or fill out our contact form. Sending us some pictures always helps too! We are here to help and guide you through the SB 326 process.

Balcony Inspection Vents For Enclosed Soffits

We’ve seen a lot of hype over balcony inspection vents here in California. This new product is the result of the SB 326 & SB 721 Balcony Inspection bills that were passed after the deaths of 7 young adults and severe injuries to 6 who survived the collapse of a balcony in Berkeley in 2015.

Essentially balcony inspection vents allow one to easily inspect the interior cavities of a deck enclosed underneath in stucco or other materials. Balcony inspection vents are designed to be installed in a retrofit fashion or on new construction across the bays on a deck. Most are set up with a piano hinge that allows the vent to be opened and the joists and substrate can be observed. Several other less expensive types require the vent to be pulled down after removing several screws.

We found five balcony inspection vent manufacturer’s on Page 1 of a Google search, they being Brandguard Vents, Balcony Inspection Vents Inc, Stockton Products, Brand X Metals and Thunderbird Products.

Continue reading Balcony Inspection Vents For Enclosed Soffits

Condos That Are Less Than 10 Years Old Should Do An EEE Inspection Before You Pay For a Full SB 326 Balcony Inspection

SB 800  allows for condos to file claims for construction defects within 10 years of completion of the buildings. SB 326 adds additional language that strengthens some of that Bill and improves upon it. While condos may want to pursue construction defect claims, they may want to postpone their Balcony inspection if they suspect they have defects. Why?

Simply because the balcony inspection report becomes part of the association’s records for a minimum of 9 years and is  part of the reserve study. A report showing numerous deficiencies may be a red flag to buyers, your insurance company and could cause unintended problems.

One attorney  I know recommends pre-inspections of the EEEs and inspections of the building envelope in general. “I strongly recommend a pre-inspection. Open 2 or 3 locations and if there are issues,do repairs first. That way the report isn’t a surprise (and protects property values) and if the project is under 10 years old, the builder pays for inspections and repairs.”  We concur and so we offer our clients pre SB326 inspections of EEE’s that are suspected of having damage/ defects.

We will open up several decks/ balconies for inspection of the structural elements. If there are damages and repairs are necessary then the beginning of an SB 800 claim can be started with the developer/builder. At the time of opening the decks and balconies we will document all conditions prior to destructive testing starting and then document while removing materials and exposing structural elements. Items removed will be documented, logged in and  retained for evidence in our secure storage location. We will then issue a report to the Board on our findings.

As a structural engineer is not involved at this point and the number of elements that are being opened are limited, the cost to do this is much lower than a SB 326 stage 2 inspection would be.

If you would like a proposal for a Pre-SB326 Inspection, contact us today for a quote.

Bill Leys Has Been Inspecting Decks Since 2005, and Has Been A Leader In The Deck Inspection Field Since

After a boroscope camera saw some damage, full destructive testing reveals the horror show lying hidden away, a collapse waiting to happen; that could have happened without a deck inspection.
Photo courtesy of American Restore, Inc.

As the owner of William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC, I’ve been a proponent of doing deck inspections for a very long time. Deck collapses have been happening long before the shocking Berkeley deck collapse that left 6 dead and 7 severely injured on the sidewalk below and they continue with alarming frequency today.

With SB-326 in place, it is important to find the right inspector for your HOA. There are a lot of new inspection companies that have popped up with dubious track records and many have conflicts of interests by also owning a waterproofing company that can just happen to give you a bid… and there are the established firms like William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC that have been doing deck inspections, forensics and construction defect investigations for years and have no conflicts of interest because we don’t bid for any repair work that we may discover.

In 2006 I presented a Powerpoint presentation on decks at the Association of Professional Reserve Advisors (APRA) annual symposium in Rancho Mirage. It was there that an HOA manager approached me about doing deck inspections for his client Associations. My first deck inspection was Montecito HOA in Walnut Creek, an Apartment to Condo conversion. That inspection found numerous defects and deficiencies on the balconies.

From there my inspection business took off and I have been inspecting decks and balconies on buildings all over California for 16 years now. We are recommended by HOA management firms, Reserve Study companies such as CACM Services in Long Beach, B&W Management in Arroyo Grande and Facilities Advisors International LLC.

Read our reviews from over the years I’ve been doing inspections here- Reviews & Recommendations and you’ll see the same consistent theme, how our expertise made a difference.

Put our expertise to work for your Association today, starting with a free SB-326 EEE evaluation of your property. We’ll calculate what EEE’s need to be inspected and give you a free proposal for the work. I think you’ll find our pricing competitive and our work exceptional. Email Bill Leys at LeysWaterproofingConsultants@gmail.com today to get started.

There’s No Word More Dangerous To Your Reserve Account Than “Free”

Accurate?

For an HOA’s reserve accounts there is no word that could be possibly any more dangerous than the word free. Board members hear that word and everything else becomes a dull roar.

“Well they said they were going to do a free inspection if we contracted for the work and we know we have work to do anyway so we may as well kill two birds with one stone.” Well not an actual quote but close enough to what I’ve been told a couple times. My response has been simply there is no such thing as free.

First question is are they inspecting with a structural engineer or an architect on stage 1? If not then the report is not valid if it’s robo stamped.

Second question Is aren’t you supposed to get three bids for the repairs? Why are you not following the CC&Rs that require three bids on any capital expenditures?

Last question is do you really think that you were getting the best price on the repair work? Reality is is they have found an easy mark and are ready to separate your HOA from its money.

Don’t fall for free. You get exactly what you pay for. The experts at William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC Do not give away their services for free but we also don’t contract for any work. We work in the association’s best interests and ensure that your money is spent well on repairs that are necessary. With our no conflict of interest guarantee you know that we are working for you and will advise you to the best of our ability with the knowledge that we have so that you can make the best decisions for your association.

Call us today at 805-801-2380 or go to the contact box to the left and send us a message.

William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC Joins Community Associations Institute Channel Islands Chapter

We Are Now A Member

William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC is pleased to announce that the firm has joined the Channel Islands Chapter of CAI.

We are pleased to be a member and offer our SB-326 Balcony Inspection services, along with roof consulting, below grade waterproofing consulting and expert witness and construction defect investigations.

Member managers and Board members can look forward to having a company that can provide competitive bids, waterproofing expertise and absolute integrity in it’s interactions with clients, contractors, competing vendors and the general public. Look for us at upcoming Channel Island Chapter events, I’ll be posting dates/times and places of where and when we’ll be there.

Do you need a balcony inspection? Reach out today and request your free EEE evaluation and quote. We have partnered with a structural engineer and can provide your Association with a report that meets and exceeds the SB-326 Balcony inspection requirements.

Visit us at www.SB326Inspector.com to learn more

A Discussion on The Misinformation and “Selling By Fear” Tactics of Some SB-326 Inspection Companies

The SB-326 Balcony Bill is ripe for scammers and less than ethical people to take advantage of. A “Sell By Fear” sales tactic has emerged and Boards and their managers may succumb to the pressure.

There is a lot of misinformation being spread about regarding the SB-326 Balcony Bill.

As an independent balcony inspection firm, we have seen this everywhere we go. I see misinformation being spread mostly by inspectors who are not independent inspection firms. Instead these inspectors have a primary interest in feeding their main business of construction repairs and waterproofing work. They operate by doing inspections at cut rate prices, luring in their mark by saying the inspection is free if we do the repairs, or “mail in rebate” or some other tactic to get you to bite. Then they fear sell you a job you don’t need. “All the decks need to be replaced because they don’t meet current code” and if you balk they say they will need to report this to the law and that the fines are tremendous for not complying. Fear sells. For enormous profits for the company and enormous commission for the salesman.

William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC does not have any conflicts of interests; we do not bid for repair work, we have no interest in any construction or waterproofing companies, or in any deck coating materials manufacturer’s or related industries.  We won’t let you get taken to the cleaners. We are your agent. We provide you data and information for a fee that allows you to make good business decisions.

You are quite aware of the bill and its provisions so I won’t go deeply into the bill.  

The bill requires inspections of the EEE’s in condominium complexes with 3 or more units. 

The bill requires inspections of Exterior Elevated Elements more than 6’  off the ground. EEE’s consist of stairs, walkways, landings, decks and balconies and railings that extend past the building line.

In my opinion, if it could even be slightly interpreted that your deck qualifies as an EEE, it must be inspected. My belief is that it’s better to err on the side of caution than defend a lawsuit that asks why you didn’t inspect the decks because somehow it collapsed and someone was injured or killed. 

As an inspector, we follow the balcony bill in defining repairs. SB-326 defines the two types of repairs that may need to be done- Non Emergency repairs and emergency repairs. A clear sign that you may be the victim of a scam is when the inspector tells you that you “Have to fix/replace your decks” without also declaring in his report that the decks are “emergency repairs”. If they do declare them as emergency repairs, then a on site meeting should be arranged so the inspector can show your Board the exact problems he’s found.

An emergency repair is defined as a repair that must be done ASAP because structural elements (framing) have been inspected by a structural engineer, and in his/her opinion presents an immediate danger and may place occupants and the building at risk if the balcony should suddenly fail. This type of repair must be reported to the governing building agency (County or City) over the property. Temporary shoring may need to be employed until permanent repairs can be made and the deck closed to further use until it is fixed and the building permit is signed off by the building official. The Board of Directors must act expeditiously to protect the Associations assets and protect life by proceeding with repairs as as soon as possible.  

Non emergency repairs are the second type of repair. Non-emergency repairs can be made at the discretion of the Board on its own timeline. A non-emergency repair might be replacing drip edge flashings and coatings at the edge that are deteriorating, or patching cracks in the deck coating that are non-structural in nature. 

RESERVES & LIFE SPANS OF COMPONENTS

I was an HOA manager, holding a CAI “Certified Manager of Community Associations” designation while actively managing HOAs. I have a strong understanding of reserve studies and their purpose. 

Reserve studies list the components of a building (common area and exclusive use common area)-roofs, siding, gutters, decks and balconies etc that the Association is obligated to maintain, repair and eventually replace. A reserve study assigns a maintenance schedule for each component and an end of useful life date where the component needs to be replaced. 

Reserve studies are generally considered  to be “educated guestimating” as many different factors can affect a components useful life span. For decks, the average lifespan is 20-30 years for a deck coating system to wear out and need to be replaced. However, I have seen 50 year old deck systems still performing because they have been maintained and repaired and they are mostly out of the elements-sun and rain being their main adversaries. I have also seen deck systems that only lasted 10-12 years when they were expected to last 25 years, but failed due to lack of maintenance and repairs and severe exposure to pedestrian traffic use and weather. 

However, just because a component is at the end of its useful life by the reserve studies estimate,  doesn’t necessarily mean that’s it, it’s over and we need to replace the decks immediately. Rather, WLWC LLC recommends that the prudent approach to take is this; have an expert inspect the component(s) and determine if that component is still functioning as expected. If it is performing as expected, the reserved study should be updated to provide for an inspection of the components at a future date. Perhaps a deck should be reinspected in 2 year cycles.  If it isn’t functioning as expected, can it be repaired to restore its functionality? If the answer is yes, the solution is to fix it and continue inspections periodically. 

In the meantime, the contributions to the reserve account continue to accumulate and when the deck does finally reach the end of it’s useful life, there should be excess money for the repairs.    

Conclusion- There are a lot of choices out there in the balcony inspection industry and some of them aren’t as a good a choice as others. At William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC, we know that we are only going to succeed by grounding our principles into just a few words-no conflicts of interest. That’s it.

We don’t have any ownership in any waterproofing companies, or a construction company, no interest in any materials we may specify, nothing. We make recommendations on products and company’s based on our experience in the industry and because we are not going to compromise when it comes to SB-326 and it’s importance and the gravity of why this bill exists.

If that works for you, contact us today. We specialize in working with smaller HOA’s for an affordable price.

Horizon West Condominiums in Waukesha WI Proves Why Concrete Balcony Inspections Are Essential and Should Be Included Under “The Balcony Bill” aka SB 326 – Don’t Wait For That, Get Going On Getting Inspections Now

Berkeley was the first warning with 7 dead and 6 seriously injured after a concrete topped wood frame balcony catastrophically failed, Surfside was the second warning, leaving 100+ people dead, now Horizon West Condominiums in Wisconsin is the third. All are poster children of management and BOD failures to inspect, maintain, repair & replace their buildings. Both Surfside and Horizon Wests associations knew for quite a while that there was deferred maintenance, refusal to pass special assessments to fix the deferred maintenance and then inevitable finger pointing when “it” hit the fan. On the positive side, at least Horizon didn’t collapse and no one died. On the negative side Horizon West HOA has to pull their building down as it has been condemned. That’s right the damage to steel reinforcing is so bad inside the building that it can’t be fixed.

“After inspections and the removal of unsafe balconies revealed rusted support beams, engineers sounded the alarm.” “They determined the six-story building had deteriorated to the point that it could collapse.”

Screen shot from Milwaukee Sentinel Journal shows workers removing balconies at Horizon West Condominiums

There are plenty of buildings in California that have concrete balconies. Many have some type of waterproofing applied to them, with varying degrees of success. Many builders don’t feel that concrete needs to be waterproofed. The bad news is it does. Concrete is porous, it allows water to soak into the deck and when that water is in the concrete it is now attacking the metal reinforcing holding the balcony together.

While the “balcony bill” doesn’t require that balconies made of concrete have to be inspected, It is my opinion that excluding these balconies was a grave mistake. Concrete gets attacked everyday by the elements.

Screen shot from a Reddit post. Concrete balcony hanging off a building after failing.

At William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC, we beseech our legislature to amend the balcony bill and include concrete balconies. While we are waiting for that to happen with bated breath, in the meantime we are encouraging condo boards and their management companies to get on board now with inspecting their concrete balconies.

Our structural engineer and our waterproofing experts at William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC will inspect your concrete balconies for signs of deterioration, spalling. cracking and rusting steel along with its waterproofing system to ensure that your balconies are safe. We think it’s extremely important to get ahead of the game rather than being behind. Trust me you don’t want to be that board of directors that has to announce to its membership that “due to past and present failure to inspect, maintain and repair, and prohibitive cost to fix it now, the building is condemned and everyone has to move out.”

Call me, Bill Leys, The Deck Expert, at 805-801-2380 for a fast response and quote on inspecting your concrete balconies and decks. While inspections aren’t cheap, they are certainly a lot less than paying to pull down a condemned building or defending a negligence lawsuit.

SB-326 Balcony Inspection Experts & Waterproofing Consultants