Tag Archives: bakersfield deck inspection

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.

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.

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.

Destructive Testing Reveals The Reason Why The Stucco Soffit is Cracking

A client of William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC has a problem with stucco under their balconies. The stucco is cracking on the outside edge of the soffit (the ceiling under the deck). Several residents were reporting that when it rained water would come out of the cracks.

The Board of Directors sought a waterproofing consultant to assist in finding out why their stucco was cracking and leaking water. They thought the source of the water intrusion was from the decks. After a search they found us and retained us to perform some destructive testing and investigate the source and reason for the cracking.

We started by making visual observations of the decks and surrounding building materials. We observed the cracked stucco under the soffits, we observed the decks and we observed the exterior walls of the balcony and the walls adjacent to the balcony.

Cracked stucco soffit and water stains.
Architectural styrofoam bullnose detail is cracking where it meets the wall. Note the efflorescence on the wall below.

Our observations found the soffits were indeed cracked and stained from water. We observed that the exterior walls surrounding the balconies also had cracks, and that a foam architectural bullnose detail was cracking where it joined the wall.

Firing up our grinder with a diamond blade to cut through the stucco, we found rusted stucco diamond lath. Stucco lath gives the stucco something to grip to.

Rusted lath under the stucco affirms water is leaking into the soffit, but from where?

We peeled back more stucco, exposing the structural beam at the outside edge. The beam had no damage to it at the two locations we opened.

Nice and dry and free of any signs of water intrusion.

Next we opened up the foam bullnose on the wall surrounding the deck. Here we found the apparent problem. The stucco behind the bullnose has large cracks in it. In the corner we found a large hole in the stucco with rotted wood behind it.

Behind the foam bullnose, a large crack exists.
Our 6″ long awl meets no resistance where wood framing should be.

Pending further destructive testing by a contractor, our initial conclusion is that the foam bullnose and cracked stucco behind it is the source of the water getting into the stucco soffits of the balconies. Now we just need to follow the waters path down the building and see if structural damage is occurring inside the walls.

If your stucco covered building has cracks in it, water coming out of soffits, if you suspect leaks, we encourage you to seek the help of the experts at William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC. We are uniquely qualified to investigate your building envelope problems and come up with solutions to fix them. As former contractors we understand waterproofing and building envelopes like few others do. As a former HOA manager you also get someone uniquely qualified and understanding of HOAs and their needs.

Call today for a discussion on how we might be able to help you. 805-801-2380 You won’t get just anyone answering the phone, you get me, Bill Leys, the owner of the firm.

How Does an SB-326 Balcony Inspection Report Benefit Your Association?

THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS DECK, SOMEONE HAS “SISTERED” NEW JOISTS ONTO THE CANTILEVERED JOISTS THAT WERE CUT BACK.

There are many benefits for your Association by performing a balcony inspection under SB-326, Civil Code 5551. In this post I’ll list a few of the most important benefits.

1.) Our SB-326 reports can help you in showing that your Association is Fannie Mae compliant which assure banks they aren’t making risky loans where deferred maintenance is a problem. Fannie Mae is looking at halting funding on high risk buildings with significant deferred maintenance.

2.) Our reports are preferred by Reserve Study companies as they contain detailed information on the decks and contiguous building materials condition. This allows your reserve study provider to be far more accurate in predicting remaining useable life and replacement costs. We are recommended regularly by Reserve Advisors Inc and other well known reserve study companies.

3.) Your insurance carrier is going to be happier knowing that your Associations decks, balconies, stairs and walkways are safe, waterproof and performing as expected. We’re seeing carriers doing their own inspections, and sometimes refusing to write a policy or the new premium is significantly higher because of increased risk. Our report can help you assure your carrier that the EEE’s are structurally sound.

4.) Your residents will be happier knowing that their balconies are safe and ready for enjoying.

When it comes to selecting a company that performs SB-326 balcony inspections under Civil Code 5551, there are a lot of choices. I hope that you’ll consider William Leys Waterproofing Consultants, as your SB-326 balcony inspection experts to perform your inspection. You can start by giving me a call at 805-801-2380 and asking me to do a free no obligation EEE evaluation of your HOA. (EEE stands for Exterior Elevated Elements. ) Or fill in the contact box to the left and fill in your info and hit send.

With William Leys Waterproofing Consultants LLC as your balcony inspection expert, you’ll be in good hands, I promise. I have 20 years experience as a contractor, inspector and technical rep in the waterproofing industry. My structural engineer has 20+ years experience performing inspections and designing structural elements on multi-family housing. Together we make the best team working for your Association.

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