Did you know that the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection requires owners of properties with decks to have them inspected every 5 years. However, there is a major discrepancy between what the DBI brochure says and what the housing code states (at least in my humble opinion).
Housing Code Section 604 requires:
All wood and metal decks, balconies, landings, exit corridors, stairway systems, guardrails, handrails,fire escapes, or any parts thereof in weather-exposed areas of apartment buildings and hotels [my emphasis] shall be inspected by a licensed general contractor, or a structural pest control licensee, or a licensed professional architect or engineer, verifying that the exit system, corridor, balcony, deck or any part thereof is in general safe condition, in adequate working order, and free from hazardous dry rot,fungus, deterioration, decay, or improper alteration. Property owners shall provide proof of compliance with this section by submitting an affidavit form (provided by the Department) signed by the responsible inspector to the Housing Inspection Services Division every five years. For purposes of this section, “weather-exposed areas” mean those areas which are not interior building areas. The affidavit process shall commence on January 1,2004
The SF DBI brochure about this states that “The Department of Building Inspection requires all owners of properties with exterior decks and attachments to have a…” while the actual code states that the requirement applies only to “apartment buildings and hotels.”
We’ve got a call into DBI to figure out why there is a discrepancy between what DBI has published in their brochure about deck inspections and the housing code ordinance.
Update: The city brochure directs all questions to (415) 558-6220, and the woman who answered the phone said it applies to “all buildings” but that they only enforce the ordinance for “buildings with 3 or more units” because “they” are in the process of trying to get it changed to include 2 unit buildings and single-family homes. Which isn’t exactly the clarification we were looking for…
And while it’s easy to think that this is just DBI looking for a reason to “stick it” to property owners, deck failures in San Francisco have resulted in serious injury and death, so it is a valid concern.
What are your thoughts about the city ordinance that requires inspection of decks every five years? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, and like I said, we will update you when we’ve got clarification.