I was going to write an article on SB 326 and discuss the bill and it’s intricacies, although not as a lawyer, because I’m not one and I can’t give legal advice-except to advise you to get legal advice…and so while I’m researching and of course reading other experts articles, opinions etc, I came across one article that stood out from the rest. It was written by David Swedelson.
David Swedelson of Swedleson & Gottlieb LLC is located in Los Angeles CA. David and the firm he is a partner in do a lot of HOA related law work and I’ve known him for nearly 18 years as member/vendors of CAI Channel Islands Chapter. David is passionate about the HOA industry and laws governing the industry. He wrote what I’d basically write-an unvarnished opinion that hits all the issues in the bill and addresses the problems a Board/Association could face if they don’t get their inspections done.
So when I read (download David’s full article here https://cdn.lawlytics.com/law-media/uploads/1428/183152/original/3-14-22%20DCS%20FAQs%20Regarding%20SB326-Balcony%20Bill%20.pdf?1647385038 I realized that if I wrote what I wanted to it would mimic David’s article and opinions…and although I’ve heard plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, David is an attorney and I am not dumb LOL…so I present his work with David’s permission and a link back to the firms website. Download it, print it and then follow along…
Lets look at some points David makes; On pages 2-3 of the article, David points out the fact that some balconies/walkways may be exempt from needing to be inspected. This is absolutely true; however, as David points out, just because a deck is over living space doesn’t mean it and the railing assembly shouldn’t be inspected. We agree, inspect even if it’s not “required” to be inspected. Decks over living spaces are roofs first, and therefore generally the HOA’s responsibility to maintain, repair and replace. Inspections form the basis for maintenance to ensure building components reach their maximum life expectancy. And inspections cost far less than defending lawsuits if something was to happen.
Under “Who Can Make The Required EEE Inspections” on page 3, David is again totally correct saying that inspections MUST BE MADE BY A LICENSED STRUCTURAL ENGINEER OR ARCHITECT and while a contractor may be involved in the inspection process opening up areas for inspection, a licensed contractor is NOT qualified to make these inspections. Further David cites an example that we see happening all the time, contractors telling associations that they will do the inspections and have their inspections signed off by a licensed architect or structural engineer. YES, YES and YES. I have heard of a civil engineer who has been caught signing an SB 326 report. So Associations need to be very careful with whom they have do their inspections with. We as professional SB 326 inspectors work with, and our reports are appended to the Structural Engineers stamped report. We guarantee in writing that we have no conflicts of interest.
On page 4 David addresses an important point under “What Happens If The Expert Finds Dry Rot Or Other Conditions Affecting The Structural Integrity Of The EEE?” Again, David is correct in saying that the inspector must send a copy of the report to the local code enforcement agency within 15 days of completion of the report. If there are structural defects that presents a hazardous condition, or even a hint of a hazardous condition, the structural engineer isn’t going to say well maybe it won’t collapse; no they are going to default to it’s hazardous and needs immediate attention. Why? Surfside. If you don’t know look it up.
David is correct on the dollar figures and as the deadline looms, experts will get booked up. What he doesn’t mention though is that this will be the time when grifters take full advantage of desperate Associations who are trying to meet the deadline for inspections.
On page 5 of David’s FAQ’s “What If A Board Fails To Comply With The New Balcony Inspection Law?”, David’s points are pointed. There could be a lack of coverage for the Board if an inspection didn’t get done, someone gets injured and sues.
David cites several relevant cases where that happened, and so the judicial deference rule will not protect Boards under all circumstances. Probably not something you as an Association want to be the example on…
All in all, the issues David brings up, the examples etc, all show how important it is for HOA’s to get started sooner rather than later-2025 is 2 years away; far but not that far. It’s going to get busier and busier for balcony inspection companies, and that’s not something that can be changed quickly. There’s only so many us professional and ethical balcony inspection companies and we can only do so many inspections. They take time and so do reports.
Call us today for a free EEE evaluation at your HOA, and take David Swedelson’s words with you as you seek to get your inspections done. We’re at 805-801-2380 or email us through the contact box on the left side of the screen.