While much attention has been focused on complying with updates to 24 California Code of Regulations, Part 5 (Title 24) that went into effect on July 1, 2014, California property owners also need to check their compliance with requirements for installing water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Though enacted several years ago, these requirements are likely to draw increased scrutiny from regulators due to the unprecedented drought in the state.
As of January 1, 2014, new-construction standards now apply to buildings constructed prior to 1994. All plumbing fixtures must be low-flow, defined as toilets with a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush, urinals with a maximum of one gallon per flush, showerheads with a flow capacity of less than 2.5 gallons of water per minute and interior faucets with a flow capacity of less than 2.2 gallons per minute.
Before a new building permit is issued, the building permit applicant will be required to replace any non-compliant plumbing fixture with water-conserving fixtures, depending on the scope of the work covered by the permit and the replacement requirement. For example:
Multifamily and commercial properties. Before a certificate of final completion and occupancy or final approval permit can be issued, replacement of plumbing fixtures must be completed under any of the following conditions:
- The building is an addition that would increase the building’s floor space by more than 10%; or
- The cost of the building alteration of improvement exceeds $150,000; or
- The permit covers improvements to a room in a building that contains non-compliant plumbing fixtures.
Buildings that are exempt from this requirement include registered historical sites, buildings that are scheduled for demolition, buildings where the water service has been permanently disconnected and buildings where a licensed plumber certifies that replacement is not technically feasible due to building age or configuration.
Single family homes. Before a certificate of final completion and occupancy or final permit approval can be issued, non-compliant plumbing fixtures must be replaced throughout the home if there is any building alteration or improvement.
Landlords and tenants that own buildings with non-compliant fixtures need to consider which party will be responsible for replacing non-compliant fixtures and, if the responsibility is split, which one will be the building permit applicant who assumes responsibility for compliance.
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