Balcony Bill

University of California Balcony Bill Requirements for Privately-Owned Properties under the Jurisdiction of UC

The following is a general summary of requirements outlined in California Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 17973, more commonly referred to as the “Balcony Bill”, as it relates to privately-owned buildings over which UC is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ).  The requirements of the code take precedence except in areas where UC Guidelines are stricter.

What type of buildings are subject to the Balcony Bill?

Pursuant to HSC Section 17973, the only structures that are subject to this statute are multi-family residential buildings (multi-family being defined as three or more dwelling units).  For projects serving UC, this might include dormitories, apartments, faculty and graduate student housing, condominiums and/or fraternity/sorority houses.

For any condominium projects that are managed by an association, those projects must comply with the inspection requirements of California Civil Code Section 5551(b).

What is required to be inspected?

HSC Section 17973 requires that all “exterior elevated elements” (E3s) be inspected in compliance with the timelines stated above.  These are defined in Section 17973(b)(2) to include the following structures, including their supports and railings, that extend beyond exterior walls of the building and which have a walking surface that is elevated more than six feet above ground level, are designed for human occupancy or use, and rely in whole or in substantial part on wood or wood-based products for structural support or stability of the E3:

  1. balconies
  2. decks
  3. porches
  4. stairways
  5. walkways
  6. entry structures

Every inspection should include the following:

  • Identification of each type of E3 that, if found to be defective, decayed, or deteriorated to the extent that it does not meet its load requirements, would, in the opinion of the inspector, constitute a threat to health and safety of the occupants.
  • Assessment of the load-bearing components and associated waterproofing elements of the E3s identified in paragraph (1) using methods allowing for evaluation of their performance by direct visual examination or comparable means of evaluating their performance.

“Associated waterproofing elements” include flashings, membranes, coatings, and sealants that protect the load-bearing components of E3s from exposure to water and the elements.

Please consult with your inspector to assure that their inspection scope is in compliance with this requirement (i.e. allowing direct visual examination of all associated waterproofing elements). 

  • At least 15 percent of each type of E3 shall be inspected. For example, if a building has balconies, stairwells, and exterior decks that qualify for inspection, a minimum of 15 percent of each of these E3s must be inspected.

Owners should work with their inspectors and use best judgement in determining locations on each building where potential damage is most likely to occur (i.e. weather facing elevations, E3s on lower portions of each elevation).  Preliminary visual inspections should be conducted to identify E3s that may be exhibiting visual signs of underlying damage.  Any location identified during these inspections as having signs of damage should be inspected under the guidelines included herein.

The 15% calculation shall be determined as follows:

  1. Inspections shall be calculated and performed on a per-building basis, or if appropriate, a per-project basis. If multiple buildings were constructed under a single contract and by the same designer and contractor, the 15% calculation may be applied to the multiple buildings of a project as a whole.
  2. The total number of E3s inspected shall be 15% of each different type of qualifying E3 rounded down to the nearest whole number and shall include at a minimum of one. For instance, if a building has 14 balconies and 2 stairways, a total of 2 balconies and 1 stairway must be inspected.

Total # E3s

Total E3s required for inspection











If visual inspections necessitate further inspections above the 15% calculation required by statute, the inspector should undertake all necessary inspections to assure the safety of all identified E3s.

If destructive inspections reveal a defect that is identified at multiple locations on a particular building, or a defect is identified that is indicative of an error in the original design and thus has a likelihood of being present at other locations, further destructive inspections may be necessary to determine the extent of the issue on a given building.

The evaluation and assessment shall address each of the following as of the date of evaluation:

  1. The current condition of the E3
  2. Expectations of future performance and projected service life
  3. Recommendations of any further inspection necessary
A written report of the evaluation stamped or signed by the inspector should be presented to the owner within 45 days of completion of inspection. The report shall include all of the following:
  1. photographs
  2. test results (if applicable)
  3. narrative sufficient to establish a baseline of the conditions of the components inspected that can be compared to the results of subsequent inspections
  4. identification of which, if any, E3s pose an immediate threat to safety of the occupants, and whether preventing occupant access or conducting emergency repairs, including shoring, are necessary.
  5. copies of all subsequent inspection reports
A copy of any report that recommends immediate repairs shall be provided by the inspector to the owner of the building and to the UC Campus Building Official and Campus Real Estate Office within 15 days of completion of the report. Written reports should be maintained by the owner for a minimum of two inspection cycles.

Relevant timelines 

  • Buildings constructed January 1, 2019 and after: Inspections must be completed every 6 years from the Notice of Completion (NOC).
  • Buildings constructed prior to January 1, 2019: First inspection must take place before January 1, 2025, then every six years from initial inspection date. 

Private owners are encouraged to complete inspections well in advance of the 2025 deadline as the law applies to all of California and inspection services may be in high demand as the deadline approaches.

Who can perform inspections?

Inspections cannot be conducted by University employees or employees of the private property owner.

All inspections shall be performed by any of the following:

  1. A California-licensed architect
  2. A California-licensed civil or structural engineer
  3. A building contractor holding any or all of the “A”, “B”, or “C-5” license classifications issued by the California Contractor’s State License Board, with a minimum of five years’ experience, as a holder of the aforementioned classifications or licenses, in constructing multistory, multifamily, wood framed buildings, or
  4. An individual certified as a building inspector or building official from a recognized state, national, or international association, as determined by the local jurisdiction.  

These individuals shall not be employed by the private entity or local jurisdiction while performing these inspections.  This precludes Campus Building Officials, Campus Fire Marshalls, and other campus staff from performing inspections.

What if repairs are deemed necessary?

All repair and replacement work shall be performed by a qualified and licensed contractor in compliance with all of the following:

  1. The recommendations of the inspector.
  2. Any applicable manufacturer’s specifications.
  3. The California Building Standards Code, consistent with subdivision (d) of Section 17922 of the Health and Safety Code.
  4. All applicable codes and standards
  5. A permit is received from the Campus Building Official 

No recommended repair shall be performed by a licensed contractor serving as the inspector.

Any E3 that the inspector advises poses an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants, prevents occupant access, or requires emergency repairs, including shoring, shall be considered an emergency condition and the owner shall perform required preventative measures immediately.  Immediately preventing occupant access to the E3 until emergency repairs can be completed constitutes compliance with this requirement.

Any E3 that the inspector advises does not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants shall be repaired as soon as reasonably possible, but the owner has no longer than 120 days of receipt of the inspection report to apply for a permit. Once the permit is approved, repairs must be completed within 120 days.

Reporting requirements 

  • Inspections, as well as any required maintenance or repair which is identified as a result of the inspection, are the responsibility of the private property owner. Reporting of the inspection is done through the Inspection Form which is filled out by the Inspector and sent to your Campus Real Estate Office.
  • A copy of any report that recommends immediate repairs shall be provided by the inspector to the owner of the building and to the UC Campus Building Official and Campus Real Estate Office within 15 days of completion of the report.
  • Reporting of any follow-up repair work is done through the Inspection Form after a permit has been obtained from the Campus Building Official (consult with the Campus Real Estate Office as necessary to obtain this permit).
  • Private owners who believe their structure is exempt from the requirements of the Balcony Bill Guidelines must indicate as such on the Inventory Form which is obtained from the Campus Real Estate Office.