sb 407 (plumbing fixtures)!

here is the specific wording-

1101.4. (a) On and after January 1, 2014, for all building alterations or improvements to single-family residential real property, as a condition for issuance of a certificate of final completion and occupancy or final permit approval by the local building department, the permit applicant shall replace all noncompliant plumbing fixtures with water-conserving plumbing fixtures.

 

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It appears the wording, specifically, is going to be a particular problem.  Note the use of the word 'improvement'... as opposed to 'addition' or 'remodeling' or other already-code-defined term.  What, exactly, is an 'improvement'?  Will some interpret this to include the most mundane projects as triggering the upgrades... i.e. things usually considered periodic maintenance or routine long term replacement/repair?  What of:  replacing an old window or door;  new paint job on exterior;  patching cracked stucco skin;  repairing lifted section of driveway or sidewalk;  swapping out old door locksets;  fixing up an old property line fence/wall;  the list is endless.  These projects can even be in the under-$100 category, and in many cases are permit-exempt work, but if defined as 'improvements' could trigger thousands of dollars in plumbing work, plus permit/inspection fees, etc.  

 

The irony is that the low-flow changes themselves were not fully thought through.  They are positive in the eyes of environmentalists, but there will be unintended consequences.  Reducing water flows on older/existing homes with waste lines that are minimum sloped will eventually lead in increased incidences of blockages, backups, damages to home interiors, etc...  and to the need for more frequent maintenance of the drain lines to avoid clogging due to less-effective line scouring.  Did anyone factor that in when looking at 'total impacts', or did anyone even consider that the small amount of water to be saved in a typical SFR will not justify the added capital and long term maintenance costs?  Did anyone consider that in many cases the Owners will, after approvals are obtained, go back in and undo the new low-flow work because the toilets don't flush as well as they used to (so you need to flush them twice), etc.

 

Another impact will be to inhibit owners of older homes from proceeding with needed repairs - simply because they do not have the funds to pay for both the 'needed' work plus the 'upgrading' that is triggered.  This will lead to more deferred maintenance, poorer housing stock, increased long term building decay/damage, etc.  It's going to be a real mess.

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