I am a balcony inspector; the company that I work for does inspections under the two balcony bills. I speak often with other people in my industry including other balcony inspection company inspectors. We pretty much all agree that there is a lot of confusion amongst owners boards of directors and even the attorneys on interpreting the language in the balcony bills.
SB 326 regulates balcony inspections for condominiums. It requires inspections every 9 years by a structural engineer or an architect. It also requires a much higher percentage of balconies be inspected as opposed to what is required for apartment balcony inspections.
SB 721 regulates balcony inspections for apartments. Under this bill a general contractor can perform balcony inspections.
In a search today for something entirely unrelated to decks, I stumbled upon the news that a Homeowners Association in Diamond Bar CA had been red-tagged and the residents ordered to leave their homes because of deferred maintenance leading to structural concerns. The order to leave has been rescinded after the first engineers report declared the property and immediate hazard and recommended evacuating units was found to be lets say “over cautious”. There are 155 condos at the property on the first and second floors. The second floor units have balconies while first floor units have a patio.
Several structural engineers reports on the conditions found at The Village at Diamond Bar came to the conclusion that “while there are substantial deferred maintenance issues that should be addressed throughout the complex property, the condition does not create a widespread and immediate danger to the life or safety of all occupants of the individual units as previously recommended via a report by Khatri International, a structural engineer hired by the Diamond Bar Village Homeowner’s Association.“
Consumer Alert! Attention all Southern California HOA managers, reserve study specialists, HOA attorneys, CAI and CACM
Update, 2/18/22, Board of Professional Engineers has Opened A Complaint Against Raffi Abkarian
For immediate release !
DeckExpert.com, after investigation and information provided by anonymous sources has formed the opinion that HOA/condominium balcony inspection reports signed off by a “deck inspection” firm operating in the So Cal area may be invalid and fraudulent. The company is performing balcony inspections for condo and apartment complexes in the Southern California area and through their waterproofing company, is offering to fix any problems at exorbitant rates.
I stumbled on this article by Rachel Miller Esq and Sarah Brown with Reserve Specialist Dennis Eckert RS PRA on CAI’s website. Here Ms. Miller and Ms. Brown discuss the balcony bill in detail and raise a very good point-that Condo’s less than 10 years old may have additional rights under SB-800. Hidden damage exposed during destructive testing may qualify as a latent defect under SB 800 and therefore repairs might be paid for by the builder.
I’m not sure when Hill Brothers Chemical Company first started manufacturing Magnesite, however, it’s safe to say it’s been around California, Arizona, Nevada and other Western states for a long long time…it’s distinctive bull nose edges are a sure sign of what the deck has on it.
What I do know is that up until 1977, Magnesite was manufactured using Asbestos as an ingredient. Hill Brothers sold millions of square feet of the material as interior and exterior flooring. This 1999 article from the LA Times discusses the allure of Magnesite, although it doesn’t discuss Magnesite’s little problem of asbestos in it… https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-jul-11-re-54828-story.html
“The deck that we had off the house,” she said. “It was a two-tiered deck, and it was redwood, and that’s what brought down our house.” Corey and Danusia Larsen of Malibu CA of the Woolsey Fire that burned over 600 homes.
I’m still trying to find it but I remember seeing a quote from a firefighter in California describing wood decks as organized kindling. That quote sticks in my head and won’t budge. I’ve reviewed hundreds of pictures of homes that are burned and often you can see the outline of a wood deck or the remnants of…
To me the ideal fire resistant home would be stucco or concrete or Hardie board with a metal or concrete roof any decking on it would be a division 7 traffic coating that is fire rated for use in California fire zones.