New Year, New Building Code
Happy New Year everyone, and along with a fresh calendar comes a revision to the building code. The new code is called the 2013 California Building Code, although it went into effect January 1, 2014. There are too many changes to enumerate here, but we want to call attention to a few of them that will affect many upcoming projects.
AB 715: Requires that 100% of toilet and urinals sold or installed in California be high efficiency (maximum of 1.28 gallons per flush for toilets and 0.5 gallons per flush for urinals). It also requires that non-water urinals be approved for sale in California.
SB 407: Requires all buildings in California be brought up to 1992 state plumbing fixture standards, and implements steps to replace “noncompliant plumbing fixtures” in residential and commercial property built before 1994 with “water-conserving plumbing fixtures”. Water-conserving is defined as compliant with current standards and water use equal to or less than: 1.6 gallons of water per flush for toilets, 1.0 gallon of water per flush for urinals, 2.5 gallons per minute for showerheads and 2.2 gallons of water per minute flow capacity for interior faucets. These requirements have been adopted into the 2010 CALGreen building standards. The deadlines for compliance are January 1, 2017 for single-family residential property and January 1, 2019 for multi-family residential and commercial property. As of January 1, 2014, any building alterations or improvements will trigger replacement of noncompliant plumbing fixtures as a condition of final permit approval by the local building department. This means that even if you are not remodeling a bathroom, you may have to replace bathroom fixtures in a pre-1994 home if you are doing other remodeling to the home. Check with your architect to make sure that this requirement is included in your plans.
If you are adding solar panels to a building, the new code requires that roof-mounted systems comply with fire prevention regulations, including the roofing material. In other words, everything on the roof needs to work together to provide the required fire rating. The reason for this change is that in some older systems, leaves and debris would get caught under the panels and be more likely to create intense heat pockets if ignited that would then burn through the roofing material more quickly than its rating. If you have an existing solar panel system, it would be a good idea to clean under the panels annually to avoid this problem.
Smoke alarms in multi-family residences are now required to be less than 10 years old. Most of us probably don’t know how old our smoke alarms are, but smoke alarm technology has improved dramatically and it is a good idea to replace all of your alarms with new ones that include carbon monoxide detection combined with smoke detection, and a wireless 10-year battery. The new long-life batteries reduce the chance that you will forget to replace standard batteries twice a year. Also, the sensors in the older units have a limited lifetime and you don’t want to have it stop working at the worst possible moment.
Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous new year from The Kastrop Group!
— Lorianna Kastrop Vice President, the Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects