SB 721 Inspections

Ensuring Safety: A Comprehensive Guide to SB 721 Inspections

In California, the safety and structural integrity of exterior elevated elements (EEEs) such as balconies, decks, and stairways in multi-family residential buildings are paramount. Senate Bill 721, enacted in 2018, mandates regular inspections to ensure these structures remain safe and reliable. As a deck inspection company in Southern California, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide to SB 721 inspections, highlighting the essential aspects and what property owners need to know.

Understanding SB 721 Inspections

What is SB 721?

SB 721, also known as the “Balcony Inspection Bill,” requires periodic inspections of balconies, decks, stairways, and other EEEs more than six feet above ground level and serving three or more dwelling units. This legislation was introduced in response to several tragic incidents caused by structural failures, emphasizing the need for routine safety checks and maintenance.

Inspection Requirements

Under SB 721, the first inspection must be completed by January 1, 2025, and every six years thereafter. These inspections must be conducted by a qualified professional, such as a licensed architect, civil engineer, structural engineer, or a contractor holding a specified license. The goal is to identify any hazards or potential failures due to dry rot, water damage, fungal decay, or other structural weaknesses.

The SB 721 Inspection Process

Pre-Inspection Preparation

Property owners should ensure that all relevant areas are accessible before an SB 721 inspection. Clear any obstructions from decks, balconies, and stairways to allow the inspector a thorough view of the structural components. Having previous maintenance records and any past inspection reports on hand can also benefit the inspector.

During SB 721 Inspections

During an SB 721 inspection, the inspector will examine all accessible EEEs, focusing on signs of wear and tear, water damage, dry rot, and other potential structural issues. They may use various tools and techniques, such as moisture meters, to assess the condition of the materials. In some cases, destructive testing may be necessary to inspect hidden areas, though this will be conducted carefully to minimize damage.

Post-Inspection Reporting

After the inspection, a detailed report will be generated. This report will include the condition of all inspected elements, any identified issues, and recommendations for repairs or maintenance. The inspector will classify the findings based on severity, guiding property owners on the urgency of necessary actions.

Addressing Inspection Findings

Immediate Repairs

Prompt action is required if the inspection report identifies any immediate hazards or significant structural issues. Property owners must arrange for repairs by licensed professionals to address these critical concerns. Timely repairs comply with SB 721 and prevent further deterioration and potential safety risks.

Ongoing Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial to extending the life of EEEs and ensuring ongoing safety. Property owners should follow the inspector’s recommendations for preventive measures and routine upkeep. This might include sealing surfaces, repairing minor damage, and ensuring proper drainage to prevent water accumulation.

Documentation and Compliance

Maintaining thorough documentation is essential for compliance with SB 721. Keep records of all inspections, reports, and repairs. These documents may be required for future inspections and can serve as proof of compliance with the law. Proper documentation also aids in tracking the condition and maintenance history of the property’s EEEs.


SB 721 inspections are critical to maintaining the safety and structural integrity of multi-family residential buildings in California. As a deck inspection company in Southern California, we are dedicated to helping property owners navigate the requirements of SB 721. By understanding the inspection process, addressing identified issues promptly, and maintaining thorough records, property owners can ensure compliance with the law and, more importantly, protect the safety and well-being of their residents. Embrace proactive inspection and maintenance practices to uphold the highest safety standards for your property.

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