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SB 326 FAQ Overview 

SB 326 (California Civil Code Section 5551) is an addition to the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Section 4000).

This website and FAQ is concerned with the inspection aspects of SB 326 (Civil Code Section 5551). In addition SB 326 adds Section 5986 which deals with governing boards and actions and is not addressed here. See SB 326 for further information.

The practical applications of SB 326 for HOA communities are the inspection of exterior elevated elements (EEE's) and incorporation of inspection reports into the reserve study.  The specific requirements and details for compliance are described below and include:




1. What projects are affected by SB 326?

  • All common interest developments​ in California.

  • Buildings containing three or more multifamily dwelling units.

2. What is the purpose of the inspection?

  • To determine whether the exterior elevated elements are in a generally safe condition and performing in accordance with applicable standards. Section 5551(b)(2).

  • A reasonably competent visual inspection (Section 5551 (b)(1) through the least intrusive method necessary to inspect load-bearing components, including visual observation only or visual observation in conjunction with, for example, the use of moisture meters or borescopes. Section 5551(a)(5).

  • To generate a random list of locations of each type of exterior elevated element for which the association has maintenance or repair responsibility to be used for the inspections and to be provided to the association for future use. Sections 5551(c).

  • If during the visual inspection the inspector observes unintended water or water vapor has passed into the associated waterproofing system then the inspector may conduct further inspection.

3. When and how often are inspections required?

Buildings permitted before January 1, 2020: 

  • The first inspection shall be completed by January 1, 2025, and then every nine years thereafter and in coordination with the reserve study inspection. All written reports shall be maintained for two inspection cycles as records of the association.

Buildings permitted on or after January 1, 2020: 

  • The inspection of buildings for which a building permit application has been submitted on or after January 1, 2020, shall occur no later than six years following the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. 


4. Who can perform an inspection?

  • a licensed architect or licensed structural engineer.

5. What elements are inspected?

Homeowner associations are required to periodically have all wood "exterior elevated elements" inspected for structural integrity and waterproofing condition by a licensed architect or licensed structural engineer. Exterior elevated elements include such elements as balconies, stairways and common area decks that are greater than 6 feet above the ground. SB 326 defines exterior elevated elements as load-bearing components and associated waterproofing systems.

  • "Associated waterproofing systems" include flashings, membranes, coatings, and sealants that protect the load-bearing components of exterior elevated elements from exposure to water or water vapor.

  • "Exterior elevated elements" mean the load-bearing components together with their associated waterproofing system.

  • "Load-bearing components" means those components that extend beyond the exterior walls of the building to deliver structural loads to the building from decks, balconies, stairways, walkways, and their railings, that have a walking surface elevated more than six feet above ground level, that are designed for human occupancy or use, and that are supported in whole or substantial part by wood or wood-based products.

6. Do steel structures need to be inspected?

  • No, only wood structures are covered by SB 326.

7. Local jurisdiction considerations

  • The local jurisdiction may impose requirements greater than those imposed my SB 326.

  • If, after inspection of any exterior elevated elements, the inspector advises that the exterior elevated element poses an immediate threat to the safety of the occupants, the inspector shall provide a copy of the inspection report to the association immediately upon completion of the report, and to the local code enforcement agency within 15 days of completion of the report. Upon receiving the report, the association shall take preventive measures immediately, including preventing occupant access to the exterior elevated element until repairs have been inspected and approved by the local enforcement agency.

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