The State of California issued revisions to the State Building Code in July, 2013. Of major interest are changes in the codes which may result in increased construction costs. Siskiyou County will start enforcing the new codes with building permits issued after January 1, 2014.

California has established a goal that all new residential construction by 2020 will have net zero energy consumption. That is, the structure shall be capable of generating sufficient energy to offset it’s energy consumption. It would appear that this goal can only be achieved if energy required for heating, cooling, lighting and appliances is minimized and solar energy converted to electrical feed to the grid. As a first step, the new code requires improved performance of the building envelope by increasing insulation and reducing losses through the glazing. Expanded use of “high-efficacy” lighting fixtures will encourage increased LED usage. Other changes address solar installation-ready roofs and electrical service panels. These latter changes will apply to multiple house (tracts) projects at this time.

Food for thought: So, all our homes generate enough electrical power to meet our annual needs. Wow, no electrical bills! Wait a minute, who is going to pay for the “grid” IE, power plants, transmission lines, transformers etc. needed to distribute power, generate power when we are using more than our house generates (like every evening)? State regulators and energy suppliers are currently discussing how to create a system that will distribute costs fairly. Currently, there is a benefit to buildings with solar panels thus encouraging installation of the devices at the expense of non solar users. As would be expected, the solar industry is lobbying for no change. As more solar equipped buildings come on line and more grid costs are shifted to non-solar users, more pressure builds to revise the existing billing system. The impact of a more equitable distribution of grid costs will be to lengthen the time for recovery of solar systems installation costs. The complexity of the issue is increased by the possible impact of less total demand for generated power, but an increase in faster ramp up and down power which current plants may not be able to provide. The only thing we may be sure of is that there is no free lunch.

Back to our original purpose for preparing this portion of our website. How will the 2013 code affect construction in northern California. The following comments are proceeded by the Code identifier number.

R109.1.4 Moisture content of framing lumber shall be verified at the time of framing inspection. I assume that if excessive moisture content is found, the structure will require heat and ventilation until moisture content is reduced to code acceptable level.

R109.1.6.2 At time of final inspection, a compact disc, web-based reference or other media providing information on proper maintenance and performance of systems built into the building shall be provided.

R300.1 and 2 Projects that disturb less than one acre of soil must now identify storm water drainage and surface water flows during construction and after completion of construction.

R302.1 Non fire resistance rated exterior walls for automatic sprinkler equipped structures now require less minimum separation from adjacent buildings. Note: Local easements may require greater separation than required by this Section.

R303.3.1 Each bathroom containing a tub, shower or tub/shower must be equipped with an exhaust fan. Window operation alone, is not a permissible method of ventilating.

R311.7.6 Curved and angular stair landings are now allowed.

R313.5.3 A backflow device shall be installed between a potable water supply and an automatic fire sprinkler system.

R314.3 Location and maintenance of smoke alarms has been revised.

R324.1 A minimum of 50% of nonhazardous construction waste is to be recycled or salvaged for reuse.

R330.1 Finish materials including adhesives, sealants, caulks, paints, carpets, and other materials shall now meet volatile emission limit requirements.

R331 The code now contains specific requirements to be met when solar photovoltaic panels are installed.

R501.3 Floor assemblies using other than dimensional lumber shall be provided with a 1/2″ gypsum or 5/8″ wood panel on the underside of the floor framing member. Exceptions to this requirement are if the floor is over a space protected with fire sprinklers or if the space under the floor is a crawl space not intended for storage or fuel fired appliances.

R506.2.3 Concrete slab floors must have a 6 mill poly or equivalent vapor retarder placed between the slab and the base material.

R507.2 Attachment requirements for decks to the house structure are specified.

Table R602.3(1) New nailing requirements for intersecting wall corners and rim joists.

R806.2 Attic minimum ventilating area shall be 1/150 of the area vented. The free ventilation area can be reduced to 1/300 of vented area in Climate Zones 14 and 16 if a class I or Class II vapor retarder is installed between the finish ceiling material and the insulation.

R806.45 For unvented attics or unvented enclosed rafter assemblies, three configurations are acceptable. The space between the rafters is filled with the required thickness of an air impermeable insulation applied directly to the under side of the roof sheeting, or 2, a R4 layer of sheet insulation is installed on top of the roof sheeting and air permeable insulation installed between the rafters or 3, a R4 layer of air impermeable insulation is placed in contact with the underside of the roof sheeting and air permeable insulation installed in the remaining space between the rafters. When insulation board is installed in the rafter cavities, the edges of the board shall be sealed to form a continuous layer. Climate Zones 14 and 16 require a vapor retarder be installed under the ceiling finish material.

R903.2.1 A flashing shall be installed to divert water away from where the eave of a sloped roof intersects a vertical wall.

R905.2.8.3 Step flashing is now acceptable for asphalt shingle roofs.

R905.2.8.5 Shingle roofs shall require use of metal drip edges on eaves and rake edges.

Part 6 Section 150 (a1) Attic access doors shall have permanently attached insulation and be gasketed to prevent air leakage.

Part 6 Section 150 (g1) In Climate Zones 14 and 16 a vapor retarder must be installed on the conditioned side of all insulated exterior walls, vented and un-vented attics with air permeable insulation.