2013 California Building Code Adopted, Goes Into Effect January 1, 2014

Update: The Title 24 component to the 2013 California Building Standards Code will not be going into effect until July 1, 2014. See this important update for more information.

The 2013 California Building Standards Code has been adopted by the state’s Building Standards Commission (BSC) and will go into effect on January 1, 2014. The code will be available for purchase beginning July 1, 2013. Hopefully the good people at Public.Resource.Org will gain access to the new codes and provide them for free at their website shortly thereafter. (For more background see this informative article.)

Every three years, the BSC reviews, develops and adopts state building safety codes based on the input of a variety of government and private sector entities. Typically, the BSC modifies the building codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC) to meet California requirements.

Two notable ways in which the California Building Code (CBC) differs from the ICC’s codes relate to accessibility requirements, and energy efficiency. For the 2013 code, the BSC resolved the accessibility discrepancies by incorporating the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That, in addition to recently enacted legislation, should go a long ways towards eliminating frivolous “drive-by” accessibility lawsuits. According to Architect Magazine:

“They would send letters saying, ‘if you give me $4,000, I won’t proceed with litigation,’” says Raymer. “And a whole lot of people were just paying that, especially small- or medium-sized businesses. We estimated it would cost $22,000 to $25,000 to fight this in court, and that was if you won.”

Last fall, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill (SB 1186) into law that reduced California businesses’ exposure to such lawsuits. Since then, such complaints have required, among other things, detail on what part of the state or federal code was being violated.

In addition to the accessibility requirements, the new code also adds more stringent energy efficiency measures to CALGreen:

Thanks to regulations adopted in 2012 by the California Energy Commission and now included in the state code, builders will need to use highly efficient windows with a solar-heat-gain coefficient of .25 and U-value of .32; insulation with values of R-19 to R-21 in much of the state, and HVAC systems with a SEER rating of 14. Ductwork must be tested and allow no more than 6% air leakage. California wants all new homes to be zero-net energy by 2020.

Via Architect Magazine