Is Retrofitting (Realtor Code Compliance) Required When Selling in the State of California?

Yes ! Various cities throughout the state of California may have more stringent code compliance requirements, but here is a list of requirements for California homes in cities without specific requirements when selling.

Water Conserving Plumbing Fixtures (Toilets, Showerheads, and Faucets) – Starting in 2017 the law requires the installation of water conserving plumbing fixtures if you own a single-family home, and it is built before 1994 whether or not it is being sold. When selling, if you haven’t already installed water conserving plumbing fixtures on your pre-1994 single-family house, then you are in violation of the law. Homes built after 1994 presumably already have state mandated low flow plumbing fixtures. A non-complaint plumbing fixture is any of the following: Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, Any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute, Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute. More information here.

Water Heater Strapping – California Plumbing Code Section 507.2 requires that all water heaters shall be supported and strapped to prevent movement during an earthquake. Two metal straps, not less than 22 gauge, nor less than 5/8-inch wide shall be used.

Smoke Detectors – California law requires that every ”dwelling intended for human occupancy” have smoke alarms. (Cal. Health and Safety Code section 13113.7). There is no exception for single family properties. These smoke alarms must be approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal. California State Building Code requires that smoke alarms be located in 1) the hallway outside the bedrooms 2) in each bedroom and 3) on every floor regardless of whether there is a bedroom on that floor. The California State Building Code has required this at least since 2007. As of July 1st, 2014, the State Fire Marshal requires battery operated smoke alarms to contain a non-replaceable, non-removable battery capable of powering the smoke alarm for at least 10 years. When transferring a property in the state of California, the transferor/seller must provide the buyer with a written statement indicating that the property is in compliance with the law governing smoke alarms.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors – As of January 1, 2013, State law now requires the installation of Carbon Monoxide detectors in all single and multi-family dwellings (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 13261) . The state requirement requires a Carbon Monoxide detector be installed outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms, and on every level of the property.

California code notes the seller of the property ‘shall’ and not ‘may’ meaning these are state-wide requirements when selling (at the point of sale).

Not only are these requirements, but the state of California requires the seller to provide the buyer with a written statement indicating the property is or is not in compliance with the above noted requirements when selling. This is usually listed in the residential purchase agreement.

In reality, many Realtors assume these items to be to code and working. To cover your bases completely, always have a third party check these items as existing, working and to code, and have all parties acknowledge the above mentioned items as such.

Do you have questions about these requirements? Leave your comments or questions below in the comment box.

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