All posts by Bill Leys

Bill is a waterproofing expert who speaks truth to power, reports on his industry and inspects balconies and decks under the balcony bills in California.

Read A Sample of Our Supplemental Waterproofing Report for SB-326 Inspections

After much internal debate inside my head over whether I should publish a copy of our Waterproofing Report here, I’ve decided to. Much of that debate was should I protect our report from our peers and competitors? Part of me said yes, I should protect it, but the better part of me said, no publish it and let it be seen.

Another happy client

First, I want potential clients to be able to see it, how do I do that? By publishing the sample…Second reason to publish it is to share what I’m doing in an effort to bring transparency and education to the industry. With feedback and peer review, we can all get better at saving lives through better inspection techniques, methods of reporting and improving at every opportunity.

To potential clients, please take a look and read a sample supplemental waterproofing report to our Structural Engineers SB 326 structural report. (The SE’s report is not included in this download.) If you like what you see (and I am regularly updating the template to improve it even more) then get in touch for your free EEE evaluation on your HOA.

To my peers and friends, take a look and see what you think. Send me feedback if you care to. The common goal is to never let Berkeley happen again. Feel free to use anything you see. Adopt it into your reporting. If we can help each other our industry benefits and so do our clients.

Thanks, Bill Leys President

A Few Comments We’ve Received This Month

We wanted to share a few comments we’ve received this month from several clients and peers that we are working with on various projects…

We don’t ask or solicit anyone to complement us, feeling that’s a little pretentious. We simply work as hard as we can for our clients and with our peers, believing that having a good team in place with clients who appreciate what we do is the key to their projects success.

We specialize in working with HOA’s and building owners who have water intrusion issues and want to get them fixed.

Send us an inquiry using the form on the left side of your screen or call us at 805-801-2380. We look forward to helping you solve your waterproofing issues.

Thank You, Bill Leys

David Swedelson’s FAQs/ Article On SB 326 Hits the Nail On It’s Proverbial Head – Let’s Discuss It’s Highlights

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.

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.