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Housing Code Enforcement
Housing Code Enforcement

Exterior Elevated Elements (E3) Inspection Program

Pertaining to Balconies, Decks, Exterior Walkways and Stairways on Group R-1 and R-2 Occupancies

Section 601.4 to the Berkeley Housing Code requires inspection and certification of weather-exposed elevated elements. The requirement applies to R-1 and R-2 occupancies as defined by the 2013 California Building Code and identified below. Properties were required to be inspected by January 14, 2016 and must be inspected every five years thereafter.

What is the inspection requirement? Property owners of all residential buildings containing three or more dwelling or sleeping units must have all projecting exterior elevated wood and metal decks, balconies, decks, landings, stairway systems, walkways, guardrails, handrails, or any parts thereof inspected by a licensed general contractor, or structural pest control operator, or licensed professional architect or engineer, verifying that the elements are in a general safe condition, adequate working order, and do not exhibit signs of deterioration, decay, corrosion or similar damage that could pose a safety concern and there is no evidence of active water intrusion in concealed spaces of the inspected elements. The licensed professional must submit an inspection certification form to the City after completing the inspection. The requirement applies only to areas that are located more than six feet above adjacent grade.

Owners whose licensed professionals submitted inspection certification forms indicating that corrective work was required MUST submit a second certification form once the work has been completed.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions

View or print a hard copy of the Inspection Certification or Exemption Declaration

A Directory of Licensed Professionals available for E3 inspections is available on the Berkeley Property Owner's Association (BPOA) website. (

Review Guidelines for professionals completing Inspections. 

Click to view a large clear Picture of the Elements Covered by the Program, as shown in the image below. 

E3 Drawing (Updated 4/16)

Does this apply to my building? Yes, if your building is a Group R-1 or R-2 occupancy listed below with exterior elevated elements. The requirement applies to all residential buildings containing three or more dwelling or sleeping units. Please note, R-1 and R-2 occupancies as defined in the California Building Code do not correspond to Berkeley’s R-1 and R-2 zoning districts. The requirement applies to:

  • Apartment houses, condominiums, tenants in common and live/work units  
  • Dormitories, fraternities, sororities, convents and monasteries
  • Hotels, motels and vacation timeshare properties
  • Boarding houses and congregate residences (transient with more than 10 occupants and nontransient with more than 16 occupants)
  • Residential Assisted Living Facilities and Social Rehabilitation Residential Facilities  

Enforcement for Failure to Comply: Code enforcement proceedings under BMC Chapter 19.40 will be initiated against property owners who do not file an Inspection Certification or complete corrective work within the established timeframe. If corrective work is required, owners must apply for a permit within 60 days of the date of the certification, respond to plan check comments within 10 days of the date of the correction letter, obtain a building permit within 10 days of notification of plan approval and complete all work within 90 days of permit issuance.

Permits: A building permit is required to repair most parts of a typical wood deck, guardrail or exterior stairway. For more information, review the Permit Requirements for Exterior Elevated Element Repairs handout.

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