City program offers homeowners free deck inspections with grace period for repairs

Manhattan Beach resident Cy Schoenfeld said that his Norfolk Street neighbor built an illegal deck that extends about eight inches onto his property. The neighbor has been overextending his house since 2002, Schoenfeld says.
Photo By Alex Rush

Help is on deck.

Department of Buildings leaders today kicked off a weeks-long program offering free, no-penalty inspections of homeowners’ decks, porches, and retaining walls in an effort to shore up any suspicious structures and avoid dangerous collapses.

“The primary goal of the program is to provide the public with a way to find out if their decks are still compliant, and what people can do to make them safe,” an agency rep said.

Homeowners who want to ensure their decks, porches, or retaining walls are up to code need simply to call 311 to arrange for a Buildings Department inspector to examine their properties anytime before the initiative ends on Aug. 31.

Following the inspections, the agency will inform those locals whose structures are non-regulation of any safety hazards or necessary repairs, giving homeowners a grace period to correct any problems without issuing violations, because the goal is to secure the homes, not penalize their owners, according to the rep.

“It’s not about catching anyone off guard — its about wanting people to make the changes,” the agency employee said.

And the amount of time a property owner gets to make fixes varies depending on what inspectors may find, another Buildings Department spokesman said.

“There is no one specific timeline, we instead will work with homeowners on varying timelines to bring these outdoor constructions up to code,” he said.

The inspection initiative — which the agency says only applies to ground-level decks and porches, not elevated balconies or terraces — is now in its eighth year, and has resulted in hundreds of examinations, helping property owners in the borough and beyond keep their residences aboveboard, and save money by nipping problems in the bud, according to information from the Buildings Department.

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