New Decking and Catwalk Regulations in California Aim to Ensure Safety of Homeowners and Apartment Dwellers

Santa Clarita, California – Two new statutes, Senate Bill 326 and SB721, have been introduced in relation to decking and catwalks. SB326 specifically applies to homeowners associations (HOAs), while SB721 is targeted at apartments. These regulations aim to address the inspection and repair of exterior decks and catwalks in HOAs and apartments with three or more units.

The need for these statutes arose following a tragic incident in northern California where a balcony collapsed, resulting in the deaths of six people. Investigations revealed that rotting timbers and faulty connections were common factors leading to such failures. As a result, the new regulations require owners to adhere to strict rules, regulations, and inspections if their walking surface, even if covered, is exposed to the elements.

Contrary to popular belief, a general contractor with a B-1 license cannot conduct these inspections. Only licensed architects and structural engineers are authorized to perform them. It is important to note that advertisements claiming otherwise are false and will not be recognized by the Building and Safety department.

Inspections typically involve a surface-level assessment to evaluate the overall condition of the decks and catwalks. If further inspection is deemed necessary, a borescope (camera) may be used to examine the interior space. In some cases, opening up the underside of stucco or siding may be required to fully inspect the joists and large timbers.

If any issues are identified, the engineer must report them in writing to the building and safety department. Subsequently, it becomes the responsibility of the HOA or apartment owners to coordinate repairs with a state-licensed general contractor of their choice. The building department will require plans and permits for the necessary repairs specified in the engineer’s report. It is crucial to note that the engineer conducting the inspection cannot be the same person responsible for the repairs.

Santa Clarita residents are fortunate to have a streamlined building department that prioritizes safety. While some may find the process frustrating, it is essential to understand that inspectors are simply doing their job. They play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being of residents, and their corrections are rooted in the interest of safety.

In conclusion, the introduction of Senate Bill 326 and SB721 aims to prevent catastrophic failures in decking and catwalks by implementing stricter regulations for inspections and repairs. Homeowners associations and apartment owners must comply with these rules to ensure the safety of their residents. Furthermore, property owners in Santa Clarita should appreciate the diligence of their building department, as their efforts contribute to upholding safety standards in the community.