2. Architectural / Structural Engineers on Team
3. Time Inspection to Coincide with Warranty Expiration
Background on SB 326
In August of 2019, the California Legislature enacted Senate Bill No. 326 (S.B. 326) into law,
adding two new statutes to the Davis-Stirling Act. Civil Code section 5551 adds a requirement
for associations to perform inspections of balconies and other exterior structural elements that
an association has an obligation to maintain. Civil Code section 5986 invalidates and voids
provisions in governing documents that require homeowner votes, prior to filing of a construction
defect lawsuit. Noted below are key elements regarding these new laws, which went into effect
on January 1, 2020.
WHO Performs the Inspections
Inspections must be performed by either a licensed structural engineer or architect. Larger
associations may also need to use a statistician, as the statute requires a statistically relevant
sample size be inspected (95% confidence level, with a 5% margin of error).
For any new construction, it is important to have an INDEPENDENT inspection company / firm,
with no ties to any construction defect firms. Additionally, it is important the association have
each firm – being considered by the board – provide (in writing) that no financial interest, conflict
of interest, ownership interest, or partnership exist with the construction defect firm.
WHAT to Inspect
Inspections should occur with any “Exterior Elevated Elements” for which the association has a
responsibility to repair or maintain. This will include any load-bearing components that extend
beyond the exterior walls of the building to deliver structural loads to the building. This includes
(but not necessarily limited to): balconies, decks, stairways, walkways, and railings – supported
by wood or wood-based products and are more than six feet above the ground.
WHEN to Conduct Inspections
Inspections should occur for buildings that were constructed after January 1, 2020 and will need
to be done so (and completed) within six (6) years of issuance of a certificate of occupancy.
It is important to consider having an inspection completed prior to any warranty expiration, so
such documentation can be provided to protect the association (i.e. issues arise that can be
addressed and covered under the “warranty” process / period). Additionally, all inspections
must be completed every nine years thereafter.
WHERE to Conduct Inspections
Visual inspections of “Exterior Elevated Elements” load-bearing wood or wood-based
components, must validate areas are in “general safe conditions” and are “performing in
accordance with applicable standards.”
• If the inspector observes indications of compromised waterproofing systems, or there is
a risk of damage to the load bearing components of the building, the inspector will use
their best judgment to recommend further detailed inspections.
• If there are any threats to the safety of residents, the inspector must notify the
association and government agencies within 15 days of issuing their report. The
association must act immediately to prevent exposures to dangerous areas and take
appropriate preventive measures necessary to protect the safety of the residents.
HOW are Reports to be Prepared
The inspector’s report should have the following items:
• Identification of the building components subject to inspection
• Current physical condition of the components and whether there is a present threat to
the health or safety of residents
• Expected future performance of the components and remaining useful life
• Recommendations for any repairs (if any)
• Report must be stamped or signed and included in the association’s reserve study
Blog Written By: Wendy Bucknum, Director of HOA / Community Associations
Comments or questions? Please feel free to contact Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org
California Legislative Information
Tinnelly Law Group https://hoalaw.tinnellylaw.com/sb-326-balconies-branches-and-builder-
Epsten, A Community Assoc Law Firm https://www.epsten.com/sb-326-the-balcony-bill/
Whitney | Petchul https://www.whitneypetchul.com/blog/does-the-new-balcony-inspection-law-