Are Contractors Required To Replace Old Plumbing Fixtures With Water-Conserving Models?


On January 17, 2014, the California Contractors State License Board issued Industry Bulletin – 1/17/2014 clarifying that the new law effective January 1, 2014 (Senate Bill 407) requiring replacement of plumbing fixtures with water-conserving models is not triggered by property “maintenance” or “repairs.” Water.jpgThe new law requires anyone applying for a building permit for work that will “alter” or “improve” a single-family residence built in 1994 or earlier to replace all plumbing fixtures with water-conserving models. Replacement of the fixtures is a condition of receiving final permit approval from the local building department. Contractors are encouraged to verify requirements with their local building department before taking any action to maintain, repair, alter or improve a single-family residence. (The new law also requires, by 2019, water-conserving plumbing fixtures in multi-family dwellings and commercial properties when specific renovations are made.)

Although not binding legal authority, the California Building Officials (CALBO) group has interpreted the terms “alterations” and “improvements” to mean “any construction to an existing structure that enhances or improves the structure. Construction that is related to repairs or maintenance of the structure is not considered to be an alteration or improvement.” CALBO consider the following to be “repairs” or “maintenance” that do not trigger the requirements of the new law:

* electrical service change out * HVAC change out * sewer line replacement * siding or stucco * site work: retaining wall, fences, walkways, etc.
* water heater replacement * window replacement * other repairs, as determined by the state Building Code
Additional Sources: Contractors State License Board; CALBO’s Legislative Analysis; Tri-Chapter Uniform Code Committee Guidelines

Photo: Jesus Rodriguez, Taken Oct. 3, 2012 – Creative Commons