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In June 2015, in Berkeley, California, three men and three women were killed when the balcony they were standing on collapsed. Seven others were injured and, ultimately, a multi-million-dollar lawsuit ensued.

As a result, we now have California State Senate Bill 721 (details below). Though regardless of whether your properties are in California or not, let’s work together to ensure this never happens again.

Balcony issues can stem from many root sources.

We are all too familiar with the shortcomings of construction, especially as it relates to balconies and the tragic liabilities they can pose. For example, problems can include bad drainage, deteriorated surface coatings, structural rot, damaged guardrails and other distress. Water intrusion—one of the triggers for deterioration—is not uncommon. And it’s important to understand that water can find its way into a balcony assembly in many ways.

In the course of our property condition assessment work at Marx|Okubo, we often find multifamily residential and commercial buildings with balconies that have serious condition issues requiring repair.

CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE BILL 721.

The purpose of the inspection is to determine that exterior elevated elements and their associated waterproofing elements are in a generally safe condition adequate working order, and free from any hazardous conditions caused by fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper alteration to the extent that the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants is not endangered.

What you need to know: The sooner, the better.

This senate bill requires that a qualified professional complete the inspection of wood exterior elevated elements of multifamily residential buildings by January 1, 2025. The bill also requires repair of the elements should damage be found. (Subsequent inspections are also required by January 1 every six years thereafter). This may seem like a while, but with the kinds of risk associated with balconies, the problem only compounds over time, and takes more resources to resolve.

Does this apply to your property?

  1. Your multifamily property has three or more dwelling units
  2. Your building has elevated exterior walking surfaces exposed to weather
  3. Elevated exterior walking surfaces are more than 6' above ground level
  4. Elevated exterior walking surfaces are supported by wood or wood-based products

Marx|Okubo can help in a variety of ways.

INSPECTIONS

  • Experienced in-house licensed professionals
  • Waterproofing and structural expertise
  • History of similar services in the industry

SCOPING AND REPAIR DOCUMENTS SERVICES

  • Definition of repair scope
  • Peer-review proposed repairs (by other consultants or contractors)
  • Full design, plan check submittal and construction administration services

OWNER PROJECT MANAGEMENT

  • Scope evaluation
  • Bid and contractor selection assistance
  • Budget tracking
  • Schedule tracking
  • Quality control evaluation

PLEASE CONTACT MARX | OKUBO FOR MORE INFORMATION.

San Francisco Office | 415.957.9240
444 Spear Street, Suite 205, San Francisco, CA 94105 |

Pasadena Office | 626.792.6842
790 E Colorado Boulevard, Suite 250, Pasadena, CA 91101

Orange County Office | 949.660.8908
4 Hutton Centre Drive, Suite 950, Santa Ana, CA 92707