Safer Structures – California’s Balcony & Exterior Elevated Elements Laws

Safer Structures

Sadly a few years back a balcony collapsed in Berkely during a party and several young people died. This awful event resulted in California passing two laws. SB326 and SB721. Both of these laws apply to apartments and condos but exclude single family residences. These laws require that balconies and other elevated wood-framed structures like walkways, stairs and load bearing components be inspected and repaired by January 1, 2025 and then reinspected every 7 years thereafter. These laws are also often referred to as the EEEs because they cover Exterior Elevated Elements.

These new safer structures laws can present some challenges as many wooden structures are covered in stucco, so sample parts of stucco must often be broken off to correctly inspect the structures. These inspections are resulting in many special assessments or higher HOA fees as the inspections can be costly as well as required repairs. Often it is discovered during the inspection that many of these EEEs structures lack the necessary ventilation to prevent dry rot so that is also addressed.

Safe Structures - deck rot

Safer Structures – Higher HOA Fees or Assessments?

These new EEE laws have meant lots of special assessments or higher HOA fees in San Carlos CA as the inspections result in expensive, but extremely necessary repairs for us to have safer structures. We’ve already seen some San Carlos HOA’s like Brittan Heights make repairs to stairs resulting in a $5,000 special assessment from all its residents.

The lesson here is if you’re buying a condo in San Carlos CA or elsewhere in California, verify whether the EEE inspections have been performed and the necessary work completed and paid for! Determine if the HOA has already been compensated for any of those costs? For example, did they raise HOA fees or was an assessment already paid for by all residents? Otherwise, you might get a nasty surprise bill soon after you move in! So read those HOA meeting minutes, the newsletters, and financials carefully plus ask questions. This is where hiring a good realtor is also important!

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