In response to the tragic June 2015 Berkeley balcony failure that killed six students and injured seven others, the California Building Standards Commission recently approved emergency regulations that enhance balcony and walking surface construction requirements in the California Building Code (CBC). The new CBC provisions, which went into effect on January 30, 2017, apply to multifamily residential, hotels, motels, state-owned buildings, and public schools in California. The new regulations create consistency with ASCE-7 design loads and require additional ventilation, detailing, and inspection for exterior balconies and elevated walkways exposed to the weather. Concurrently, the International Code Council (ICC) has proposed similar amendments for inclusion in the 2018 edition of the International Building Code and International Existing Building Code.
Among the measures called for in the new regulations are special inspections during construction, an increase in structural live loads for balconies and decks, sloped waterproofing surface to reduce water retention, and added ventilation to the underside of enclosed exterior elevated elements. These emergency standards also reinstate a maintenance provision allowing local jurisdictions to re-inspect buildings if deemed necessary.