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Organization Title

State Housing Law


A-1. Can Building Departments adopt local ordinances that modify the building standards adopted by HCD?
When the Building Standards Commission adopts proposed building standards, they are applicable throughout the state as provided by Health and Safety Code (HSC), Section 17950 and Section 18938 . The State Housing Law, HSC, Section 17958 , provides the authority for local jurisdictions to amend regulations. Upon express findings, any city or county may make changes or modifications that are reasonably necessary because of local climatic, geological, or topographical conditions to building standards adopted pursuant to HSC, Section 17922 and published in the California Building Standards Code.

A-2. What is the State Housing Law?
The California State Legislature has given Division 13, Part 1.5, commencing with Section 17910, in the Health and Safety Code the name "State Housing Law". The State Housing Law charges HCD with the responsibility to adopt administrative regulations necessary to carry out its provisions, and for proposing building standards to the CBSC for adoption with application to the construction of hotels, motels, lodging houses, apartments, and dwellings. Additionally, the State Housing Law mandates preemptive requirements applicable to such housing structures, including substandard abatement proceedings for local government's enforcement.

A-3. Which building codes do I use in California?
The codes that govern building construction in the State of California are contained in The California Code of Regulations (CCR). The CCR is divided into 27 different titles. Title 24 of the CCR is named the California Building Standards Code and contains 12 "Parts", one of which is currently vacant. The part numbers and names for Title 24 CCR are as follows:
Part 1- Administration
Part 2- California Building Code (CBC), 1998 version based on the 1997 Uniform Building Code (The 2001 CBC has been adopted and will be effective Nov. 1, 2002.)
Part 3- California Electrical Code (CEC), 1998 version based on the 1996 National Electrical Code (The 2001 CEC has been adopted and will be effective Nov. 1, 2002.)
Part 4- California Mechanical Code (CMC), 1998 version based on the 1997 Uniform Mechanical Code (The 2001 CMC has been adopted and will be effective Nov. 1, 2002.)
Part 5- California Plumbing Code (CPC), 1998 version based on the 1997 Uniform Plumbing Code (The 2001 CPC has been adopted and will be effective Nov. 1, 2002.)
Part 6- California Energy Code
Part 7- California Elevator Code
Part 8- State Historical Building Code
Part 9- California Fire Code CFC), 1998 version based on the 1997 Uniform Fire Code (The 2001 CFC has been adopted and will be effective Nov. 1, 2002.)
Part 10- California Code for Building Conservation
Part 11- Vacant
Part 12- California Reference Standards Code

A-4. Where can I obtain a copy of the Building Codes?
The California Building Code, (California Building Code, California Plumbing Code, California Mechanical Code, the California Electrical Code, and other parts of Title 24), can be purchased directly from the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO). The California Plumbing Code and the 2001 California Mechanical Code can be purchased directly from the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) or through most bookstores. A list of libraries which have the California Building Standards Code available can be found at

A-5. Is the California Building Standards Code on the Internet?
The California Building Standards Code, (Part 2-CBC, Part 5-CPC, Part 4-CMC, & Part 3-CEC) is not located on the Internet. The contract to publish the California Building Standards Codes affords the publishers sole publication and distribution rights. The publisher, thus far, has not chosen to place the standards on the Internet.

A-6. What is the difference between the Model Codes and the California Building Standards Code?
The difference between the publications is the adoption and amendments. The CBSC is building standards that are adopted through the California building standards adoption process, as set forth in the Building Standards Law, HSC, Sections 18901 et. Seq., and incorporates the text of the latest published model codes by reference, with changes therein, or deletions therefrom, directly into the text of the CBSC.

The model codes contain provisions adopted through a consensus processes, governmental or ANSI, depending on the adopting organization, and do not contain California amendments.

A-7. What is the meaning of HCD 1, HCD 1/AC, and HCD 2 as used in the California Building Code?
The acronym HCD 1, HCD 1/AC, and HCD 2, as used in the matrix and selected banners in various sections of code, were established to provide the code user the ability to differentiate between the applications of the adopted sections. The references for the following applications are found in CBC Sections 101.17.9 through 101.17.10.
HCD 1 standards apply to hotels, motels, apartments, condominiums, lodging houses, dwellings, employee housing, and factory built housing.
HCD 2 standards apply to permanent buildings and accessory buildings in mobile home parks, and special-occupancy parks.
HCD 1/AC standards apply to newly constructed apartments of 3 or more dwelling units and condominiums of 4 or more dwelling units.

A-8. Where can I get a copy of the CPC?
See answer A-4 above.

A-9. Is the CPC on the Internet?
See answer A-5 above.

A-10. Can a local building department accept Cross-linked Polyethylene (PEX) as an alternate material for residential occupancies under the provision of the California Plumbing Code (CPC)?
No, the California State Housing Law establishes authority for a local jurisdiction to adopt alternate materials and methods of construction. Authority for these provisions is found in Health and Safety Code, Sections 17923 and 17951. The reference to this authority is found in chapter 3 of the CPC.

A-11. Is California Plumbing Code Section 609.10, Water Hammer Arrestors, adopted by HCD?
No, the water hammer provisions have not been adopted by HCD for use in residential construction in California. In the Matrix Table for Chapter 6 of the CPC, a symbol † was placed in the row for 609.10 under the HCD 1 and HCD 2 heading. This symbol indicates that HCD 1 and HCD 2 did not adopt the section.

A-12. When did the provisions for CPVC water piping become effective for residential construction?
The provisions of CPC 604.1b (604.1.1 in the 2001 CPC) became effective 180 days following the May 30, 2001 adoption of the regulations by the CBSC. The effective date was November 28, 2001.

A-13. Is corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) an acceptable gas piping material for use in residential construction? Is CSST required to be treated as an alternate material or method, needing approval on a case-by-case basis?
CSST gas piping is an approved material for use in residential construction provided it is part of a system listed by an approved agency complying with the reference standard in the 1998 California Mechanical Code (CMC). CSST would not be considered an alternate material when the proposed use complies with the product listing.

The Department of Housing and Community Development has adopted Chapter 12, "Fuel Piping" as contained in the 1998 California Plumbing Code (CPC), as well as Chapter 13, "Fuel-Gas Piping" as contained in the CMC. The CPC does not contain specific provisions for the use of CSST unless allowed as an alternate, pursuant to Health and Safety Code, 17923 and 17951 and referenced in CPC Section 301.2.7. However, the CMC in Section 1311.1 does recognize CSST as an accepted material for gas piping. This apparent conflict between codes is resolved by CPC Section 101.4.1a, which states that in case of conflict the CMC shall prevail.

A-14. Where can I get a copy of the CMC?
See answer A-4 above.

A-15. Is the CMC on the Internet?
See answer A-5 above.

A-16. What is the difference between the Uniform Mechanical Code and the California Mechanical Code?
See answer A-6 above.

A-17. Where can I get a copy of the California Electrical Code?
See answer A-4 above.

A-18. Is the California Electrical Code on the Internet?
See answer A-5 above.

A-19. What is the difference between the National Electrical Code and the California Electrical Code?
See answer A-6 above.

A-20. What is a "covered" multifamily dwelling unit?
Covered multifamily dwelling units are all dwelling units in buildings consisting of three or more dwelling units or four or more condominium units. Covered multifamily dwelling units include, but are not limited to, the following.

Buildings or portions of buildings of the same or similar occupancies, or mixed occupancies, and buildings accessory thereto, may also be subject to the disabled access provisions adopted by the Division of the State Architect.

The application standards for covered multifamily dwelling units do not apply to the alteration, repair, rehabilitation or additions to existing Group R occupancies constructed for first occupancy after March 13,1991.

A-21. What is HCD 1/AC?
HCD 1/AC is the identification "banner" placed at the beginning of a section by the Department of Housing and Community Development to signify Amendments for Access Compliance. Whenever the identification "HCD 1/AC" appears in the code, it means the following provision by the California Department of Housing and Community Development requires specific accommodations for persons with physical disabilities, as defined in Chapter 11A, of the California Code of Regulations, Title 24, Part 2, known as the California Building Code. The application of such provisions generally shall apply only to Group R Occupancies which are newly-constructed covered multifamily dwellings as defined in Chapter 11A, and Chapter 1, of the California Building Code.

A-22. What is an "adaptable dwelling unit" versus an "accessible dwelling unit"?
In the California Building Code the terms adaptable and accessible do not designate different levels of compliance. The terms "adaptable" and "accessible" generally reflect Congress' use of the terms in the text of The Fair Housing Act, and in the House and Senate conference reports. "Adaptable dwelling units", when used with respect to covered multifamily dwellings in California, means dwelling units that are accessible and include features of adaptable design, on an accessible route unless the accessible route is exempted by unusual site characteristics. The features of "adaptable design" include backing for grab bar installation and the base cabinet removal at the kitchen sink and work area.

Although there is no definition for an accessible dwelling unit it is generally considered an adaptable unit on an accessible route. The standards specify that an accessible route be provided into and throughout the entire covered dwelling unit. Some of the specific elements of an accessible route include sufficient width of ramps, halls, doors (e.g., 32" clear), headroom, & lift/elevators. An accessible route is the critical element that allows the successful use of any unit.

A-23. Are grab bars required to be installed in bathrooms of covered multifamily dwelling units?
No. The backing for support and attachment of grab bars is required to be installed in all covered multifamily dwelling units. Grab bar installation is not required prior to a request by an occupant.

A-24. How do California's accessibility standards and HUD's Fair Housing Amendments Act interrelate?
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 expanded the existing Fair Housing Act to include requirements for accessibility in and about multifamily housing accommodations. It also provides that States may enact and enforce laws and regulations for accessibility that are at least as restrictive as the federal requirements. This is the case in California, laws establishing accessibility and discriminatory prohibitions are equivalent and in many areas more restrictive than the federal requirements.

It should be noted that HUD has stated in the Fair Housing Act Design Manual "when local codes differ from the national standard, either in scope or technical specification, the general rule is that the more stringent requirement should be followed". Furthermore Government Code Section 12955.1 states in part, , "If particular federal regulations provide greater protections than state regulations, then those federal standards shall apply".