BACKGROUND: A 2009 law calls for installation of water-conserving plumbing fixtures only
when the existing plumbing fixtures are “noncompliant” by certain dates specified, as discussed
below. NOTE: This law and all comments below only apply to properties “built and available for
use on or before January 1, 1994.”
A noncompliant plumbing fixture means: (1) any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6
gallons of water per flush; (2) any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per
flush; (3) any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of
water per minute; and (4) any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per
minute. (Civ. Code Sec. 1101.3)
1. SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCES: This law requires that, if a single-family residence is altered or
improved on or after January 1, 2014, the installation of such fixtures must be a condition of
final permit approval. (Civ. Code Sec. 1101.4) In addition, by January 1, 2017, all single-family
residences must comply with this law by replacing all noncompliant plumbing fixtures.
2. MULTI-FAMILY AND COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES: Another part of that law relates to multifamily
residential properties and commercial properties with different effective dates. As of
January 1, 2014, such properties must, as a condition of final permit approval, replace all
plumbing fixtures with water-conserving fixtures if:
A. Permits are obtained to increase the floor area by more than 10%; or,
B. Building alterations or improvements exceed $150,000 in costs; or,
C. Permits are obtained for a room with plumbing fixtures.
In addition, by January 1, 2019, all multi-family and commercial properties must comply with
this law by replacing all noncompliant plumbing fixtures. Also, starting on that date sellers of
such properties must disclose to the prospective buyer whether the property includes any
noncompliant plumbing fixtures.
NOTE: For more details check the law at Civil Code Sections 1101.1 – 1101.9 and consult with a
qualified California real estate attorney with any questions.
3. LOCAL ORDINANCES AND INTERPRETATIONS: A number of cities are adopting the
interpretation by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) and the California Building Officials
(CALBO) group of the terms “alterations” or “improvements” which would exclude certain
repair and maintenance items from the requirements of this law. Specifically, they are taking the
position that construction that is related to repairs or maintenance of the structure is not
considered to be an alteration or improvement.
CSLB and CALBO list the following as considered to be repairs and maintenance items exempt from this new law:
Electrical service change out
HVAC change out
Sewer line replacement
Siding or stucco
Site work; retaining walls, fences, walkways
Water heater replacement
Other repairs as determined by the state Building Code
Still other cities have adopted a more comprehensive list of permit work items, which fall into
the category of repairs and maintenance and exempt from compliance with this law.
It is important that you check with the local Building Department to determine which exclusions
that particular city or county consider to be repairs and maintenance items and thus are exempt
from this law.
4. TRANSFER DISCLOSURE STATEMENT (TDS): A disclosure regarding this law was added to
the TDS in the form of a check box on the first page where a seller can disclose whether the
property has water-conserving plumbing fixtures.
Because the law does not now require all properties to have the entire property retrofitted with
water-conserving plumbing fixtures (unless one of the events above occurs), the checking of the
box by Seller on page one of the TDS for “Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures” may indicate
that the entire property has compliant fixtures, or it may mean that only some of the fixtures are
compliant fixtures. There is a short explanation on page 2 of the TDS as to what this means.
BUYERS: If the seller has not checked the applicable box on the TDS, it is likely that the property
does not have those plumbing fixtures installed at this time and you will be required to comply
as specified above. And, even if that box is checked by the Seller on the TDS, that may not
indicate that all plumbing fixtures in the property are compliant.
There is no requirement in the law for sellers to install these fixtures as a part of the sale.