Tag Archives: thousand oaks deck inspection

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.

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.