Ensuring Structural Integrity: The Importance of SB326 and SB721 Inspections in Santa Monica, CA

In recent years, the importance of maintaining structural integrity in buildings has become a focal point for building owners, residents, and local authorities alike. In Santa Monica, California – a city known for its picturesque coastline and world-class attractions – there is an increased emphasis on building safety and compliance with the implementation of Senate Bill 326 (SB326) and Senate Bill 721 (SB721) inspections. This article delves into the significance of these inspections in ensuring the structural integrity of buildings, safeguarding residents, and upholding the highest standards of safety in this bustling coastal city.

A Brief Overview of SB326 and SB721 Inspections

These two ordinances are designed for buildings that have three or more dwelling units. SB 326 is for condominiums, and SB 721 is for apartments and multifamily.

*Exterior Elevated Elements (EEEs)

The term emerged following the Berkeley balcony collapse and is now used in the law to mean any elevated element structures, including their waterproofing system supports and railings, such as balconies, decks, porches, stairways, and walkways that extend beyond the exterior walls of the building and which have a walking surface that is elevated more than six feet above ground level according to these ordinances.

Conducting Inspections: Technology and Methodology

Proper inspections require the use of advanced technology to accurately assess the condition of a building's structural elements. Our inspection professionals typically employ tools such as borescopes, moisture meters, infrared thermal imagers, and industrial endoscope cameras to thoroughly evaluate a property's exterior elevated elements. 

Common Issues Identified During Inspections

During SB326 and SB721 inspections, several common issues are often identified, highlighting the importance of these inspections in ensuring building safety and compliance. Some of the frequently found issues include:

Deterioration and Decay: Inspections often reveal signs of deterioration and decay in exterior elevated elements such as balconies, decks, and walkways. This can include rotting or weakened wood, rusting metal components, or deterioration of concrete surfaces.

Corrosion and Rust: Metal components and fasteners are susceptible to corrosion and rust, especially in coastal areas like Santa Monica. Inspectors look for signs of corrosion, such as rust stains or compromised structural integrity caused by the weakening of metal elements.

Waterproofing and Moisture Intrusion: Inspections focus on identifying any waterproofing deficiencies or water intrusion issues. This includes inspecting for damaged or deteriorated waterproofing membranes, improper drainage, inadequate flashing, or signs of moisture-related damage such as mold or mildew.

Insufficient Structural Connections: Inspections aim to ensure that exterior elevated elements are properly connected to the main structure. Common issues include inadequate or deteriorated connectors, missing or loose fasteners, or compromised load-bearing capacity due to improper installation.

Improper Deck Coatings and Finishes: Inspectors assess the condition of deck coatings and finishes, looking for signs of wear, cracking, or improper application. Defective coatings can lead to water penetration, compromising the structural integrity of the decks.

Guardrail and Handrail Deficiencies: Inspections identify issues with guardrails and handrails, such as inadequate height, improper spacing between balusters, loose or deteriorated components, or insufficient structural support, all of which can pose safety risks to occupants.

Balcony and Deck Slope: Inspectors check for proper slope and drainage on balconies and decks to ensure that water does not pool or accumulate, which can cause long-term damage and compromise the stability of the structure.

These are just a few examples of the common issues that SB326 and SB721 inspections aim to identify. By addressing these issues promptly, property owners can mitigate risks, maintain building safety, and ensure compliance with the regulations, ultimately protecting the well-being of residents and preserving the structural integrity of buildings.

Inspection Outcomes and Recommendations

The results of an SB326 or SB721 inspection can range from inspection showing no damage to major structural failure. In some cases, destructive negligence may be discovered, highlighting the urgency for immediate action.

 A comprehensive written report, including photographic evidence, is required for SB326 and SB721 inspections. Any damages or issues noted, particularly those posing immediate life and safety risks, must be highlighted for immediate repair. Reports noting emergency repairs must be filed with the local building department, and owners must apply for emergency repair permits and complete the repairs promptly. Non-emergency repairs should be addressed within 120 days with applicable permits. Failure to comply with repair orders may result in civil penalties and a building safety lien on the property.

Why Santa Monica Is at the Forefront of Structural Integrity

Santa Monica's commitment to structural integrity is driven by a combination of factors:

  • The city's seismic activity, as it lies on the Newport-Inglewood Fault Zone, makes it essential to prioritize building safety.
  • High-profile incidents, such as the 2015 Berkeley balcony collapse, have raised awareness about the potential consequences of structural deficiencies.
  • The city's thriving tourism industry – attracting approximately 8.7 million visitors annually – places added importance on maintaining safe and structurally sound accommodations.

These factors contribute to Santa Monica's proactive approach in ensuring that its multifamily buildings meet the highest standards of safety and compliance through SB326 and SB721 inspections.


In Santa Monica, California, maintaining structural integrity is not only a legal requirement but also a moral responsibility for property owners and managers. By complying with SB326 and SB721 inspections, building owners can help safeguard residents and uphold the city's reputation as a safe and attractive destination for both locals and tourists alike.

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Santa Monica
Category Construction Company
Services Exterior Elevated Element Inspection

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