Beginning in January 2017, California Civil Code § 1101.4 requires that all homes built on or before January 1, 1994 must be equipped with water-conserving plumbing (WCP) fixtures.
Although this law does not create a point-of-sale requirement (unlike water heater strapping and smoke alarm compliance), it does trigger a disclosure to the buyer (like carbon monoxide detectors).
Several existing disclosure forms will be modified to include reference to WCP fixtures. While sellers are not required by law to replace non-compliant plumbing fixtures, they are required to disclose whether any exist on the property.
What Are Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures?
According to Robert Bloom, Esq., of C.A.R Legal Services, the new law calls for installation of WCP fixtures in pre-1994 houses when the existing fixtures use more than the following amounts of water:
- Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
- Any urinal manufactured to use more than 1 gallon 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.
As the real estate industry works through the application of the law, there is much confusion on everyone’s part as to what needs to be done and by whom. California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.) has culled some answers to the following FAQs.
2017 WCP Fixtures – What You Need to Know
Q. What does the law require?
A. In a nutshell, starting in 2017, the law requires 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.
Q. I am selling my house. Are there any special disclosures that I must make?
A. The law requires you to disclose whether there are any non-compliant plumbing fixtures on the property. If you are unsure, you should consult with someone who has expertise in the matter, like a contractor or plumber.
Q. I am selling my house. Are there any installation requirements under this law?
A. No. There is nothing in this law that requires installation of water-conserving plumbing fixtures as a condition of sale. However, if you haven’t already installed water conserving plumbing fixtures on your pre-1994 single-family house, then you are in violation of the basic requirement of the law.
Q. I own a property in a city where there is an existing retrofit law for water-conserving fixtures as a point of sale requirement (such as Los Angeles, San Diego or San Francisco). Are those retrofit laws still in force?
A. Yes. Local laws passed before July of 2009 requiring retrofit of plumbing fixtures remain in effect. The state law also allows a locality to pass more restrictive requirements at any time.
Q. I would like to install water conserving plumbing fixtures. What can I do?
A. Call an expert such as a contractor or plumber. You can also go to your local home improvement store. You may wish to contact your local water service provider to find out if they offer low-cost or even no-cost plumbing fixtures.
Nikolas Allen is a Realtor® in Mt. Shasta, California. He helps people through the complex process of buying and selling their homes. While he doesn’t have WCP fixtures in his home, he does try to remember to turn the water off while brushing his teeth. That counts for something, right?