SB 326

Senate Bill 721: The Three Things You Need to Know About the Balcony Inspection Law

When you were handed the keys to your home, you instantly thought that finally, all the hard work is done. Now, all you have to do is move in, decorate your house and go back to your daily routine—or so you thought. Being a homeowner goes beyond buying a house.


It’s actually just the beginning of a long list of responsibilities that you’ll have to take care of to make sure that your home, the one you invested most of your money in, will last for as long as possible.


If you’re living in California, you might have heard of the SB 721 inspection but haven’t really paid much attention to it. But if you have a balcony at home, it’s about time to learn about Senate Bill 721 or the California State Balcony Inspection Law and here are three things that matter most:



The Beginnings of the Bill

It was that fateful night on June 16, 2015, when one Irish-American and five Irish J-1 visa students lost their lives and seven others were injured after a balcony located on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Berkeley, California collapsed. The casualties were celebrating a 21st birthday party and had no idea of the danger in their midst. This prompted Governor Jerry Brown to sign the California SB 721 balcony inspection law to prevent similar incidents by increasing the safety of structures, especially decks and balconies.



What the Bill Covers

The SB 721 inspection bill states that all structures with three or more units that have an elevated walking surface of more than 6 feet above ground, balconies designed for human use and decks, porches, walkways and other parts of a structure that relies on wood or wood-based products for structural support should be inspected by qualified building inspectors.


Only qualified inspectors that include licensed architects, general contractors, civil engineers, and certified building inspectors or officials can inspect a building. An inspection should include identifying each exterior element for any defects or damage using methods like visual examinations or comparisons to evaluate the structure’s performance.



When Buildings should be Inspected

All balconies, porches, stairways, decks, walkways, and entries in the structures of California should be inspected by January 1, 2025. A subsequent inspection is also required every six years.


In addition, all structures with building permit applications submitted on or after January 1, 2019, should be inspected no later than six years after the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. However, if a property was inspected and declared safe during an SB 721 balcony inspection law within three years before January 1, 2019, no inspection will be required until January 1, 2025.


After an inspection is done, building inspectors will categorize repairs as an immediate threat or no immediate threat. While those structures with immediate threat must be addressed immediately by the building owner, those under no immediate threat can apply for a permit within 120 days after receiving the inspection report.



Learning about Senate Bill 721 is very important, especially if you have decks, balconies and other external structures that could pose serious safety issues to people. And if you want to make sure that your home or office is safe, trust only the right building inspectors to do the job for you.




Deck Inspectors for Southern California is happy to offer our services in Los Angeles, Orange County as well as San Diego and all Southern California surrounding areas like: Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank, Santa Monica, Anaheim, Temecula, Vista, Escondido, Carlsbad, and El Cajon