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Juan Rodriguez

Summary of New 2010 California Building Codes

By October 14, 2011

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***New Updated Monoxide Detector Requirement Starting on July 1, 2011****


Starting on January 2011, California will enforce the new series of Building Standards Codes. In an effort to instruct and help all related professionals affected by these new codes. We will try to cover up and summarize the major significant changes presented with these implementations. From January 2011 on, all projects submitted for permit application on or after January 1, 2011 will need to show complete compliance to these new codes.

California Building & Standards Commission

Building officials might object or rejected your project submitted for permits, if they do conform to these new standards.

You must prove evidence that your projects at least are in compliance with the minimum design standards for design and construction, as requested in the new building codes. Local codes and ordinances will still be valid depending on your jurisdiction and area where you are presenting your project. As part of this set, The California Residential Code and the California Green Building Code (CAL Green), are new codes being adopted by the state.

Specific information might be found at the California Building Standards Commission website. General purchase information may be found at the International Code Council website.


California Building Code, Vols 1 & 2

California Residential Code (New)

California Plumbing Code

California Mechanical Code

California Electrical Code

California Energy Code

California Green Building Code (New)

California Reference Standards Code

California Fire Code

California Fire Code


ASCE 7-05 (Minimum Design Loads)

AISC 341-05 (2005 Seismic Design for Steel Bldgs.)

AISC 360-05 (2005 Steel Specs13th edition)

AISC 358-05 (Prequalified Connections for Special and Intermediate Moment Frames)

ACI 318-08 (Concrete Design)

ACI 530-08 (Masonry Design)

AF & PA/NDS-05 (Wood Design)

California Green Building Code Provisions (*NEW* CALGREEN):

Cal Green Standards

1 New CAL Green Code is a separate document applicable to all new residential and non-residential constructions.

2 It introduces sustainable construction practices in planning, design, energy, resource and water efficiency, material conservation and environmental quality.

3 It specifies the minimum required Green Building Standards.

Energy Conservation Code:

1. The 2010 Energy Conservation Code remains very similar as its predecessor code.

California Plumbing and Mechanical Code

1. The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials Uniform Codes from 2006 serves as the base for the CPC and CMC.

California Electrical Code

California Electrical Code

1. The current 2008 NEC standard is the based for the CEC.

Building Code- Residential Occupancies

Residential Code

There is a new California Residential Code applicable to detach one & two family dwellings. This regulation will be covering all structural conventional construction and non-structural related designs of dwelling construction.

1 The International Residential Code with particular amendments has been adopted as the new residential code. Residential construction will be subject to significant changes.

2 This code will be covering all requirements for Multi-family residential projects.

3 Disable access requirements for multi-family contains small changes, refer to CBC chapter 11A.

4 One of the most impact changes is that new residential construction will be required to have fire sprinklers. (Sec. R313.2)

5 Townhouses up to three stories height are regulated in the Residential Code.

6 Section R302.5 and 302.6 are related to the occupancy separation between dwellings and the carport.

7 Section R 302.1 specifies that new residential construction will require a 1hr rated exterior property line firewall, and no openings will be permitted within three feet of the property line.

8 Section R312.2 specifies, when needed, the guardrail height of 42 inches in all residential units.

9 Carbon Monoxide alarms are required, in addition to smoke detectors in new dwelling units, per section R315.

Building Code- Commercial Occupancies:

1. Section 508 covers all requirements for mixed-use occupancy.

2. The disabled access requirements commercial occupancies have very few changes. See CBC Chapter 11B

3. Chapter 6 is dedicated to the type of construction, its requirements and designations.

4. Chapter 7 is related to fire rated walls, construction and application.

5. Chapter 10 covers the means of egress related issues.

6. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 and 9 will be covering aspects related to wall and opening protection, allowable areas and area increases, number of stories, and sprinkler requirements.

Building Code - Structural Provisions:

1 California Residential Code will be regulating structural designs for residential dwellings; all other designs must reference the California Building Code.

2 Conventional framing (regular structures) for residential construction will be governed by CRC or engineered design using the CBC, under section R301.1.3

3 AISC, ACI, ASCE, AF & PA/NDS, and other committees, will be the applicable reference standards to design structures in wood, steel, concrete, masonry, etc.

4 All design forces, including seismic design forces, are established in CRC Sects. R301.2, R602, CBC Chap. 16 and ASCE 7-05.

5 Site Classification and Seismic design categories must be determined, per sections CRC Sec. R301.2.2 and CBC Sec. 1613.

6 CBC Sec. 1613 and ASCE 7-05, Chap. 12 will regulate seismic design methodology.

7 ASCE 7-05, Sec. 12.8 through 12.14 contains reference standards for seismic base shear, vertical and horizontal distribution and other seismic design requirements.

8 D0, D1 and D2 are new seismic Design Categories. Some help can be found at: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/hazmaps/design

9 FEMA guidelines for seismic design on steel buildings are not applicable, new reference standards will be based in the AISC publication: 'Seismic Design for Steel Buildings'.

10 Specific soils reports will be required for seismic design in most structures in Southern California, including the majority of new single-family dwellings not using the CRC.

11 The CRC requires 3000 psi concrete in Seismic Design Categories D0, D1 and D2. (CRC Sec. R404.

12 Flexible diaphragms are now considered with design provisions and restriction in both CBC Chaps. 16 and ASCE 7-05.

13 Seismic Design categories D & E (So Cal) permits the conventional construction with a significant number of restrictions and limitations. CRC Sec. 301.1.3 & CBC Sec. 2308.

14 Wood Truss design drawings require specific design and detail information as well as specific submittal requirements. (CBC Sec. 2303.4)


January 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm
(1) Tom Russell says:

Good work here. informative and appropriate. The requirement for fire sprinklers in new residences is a BAD development and should not be supported simply because it opens new merchandising and installation business opportunities. The net cost to the consumer and ultimately our community will be far greater with sprinklers in every home than without them. I just don’t believe they are going to save many lives (if any) and the initial cost and the upkeep and potential for significant property damage is HUGE. Not to mention the fact that when these systems are called into action years after their installation and with questionable maintenance in the meantime there is a significantly high likelihood they won’t function properly at the moment they’re needed. It’s the law but time will prove me right, I believe, and anything we can do now to modify this policy, particularly as it affects single family residences, should be investigated and implemented. I believe this is a case of special interests overwhelming the public good.

January 20, 2011 at 9:48 am
(2) Paul M says:

@ Tom: fire sprinklers are and always have been “property protection”, not life safety – that’s what the smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are for…..
However, I would agree with what Tom said for the most part. Special interests definitely played a part in this legislation. The game has changed, and we must dance. Whole house ventilation is also being strictly enforced (although that was enacted somtime last year I believe), as well as green points…..already. Happy New Year!

February 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm
(3) Debbie says:

I have been trying to find out if I have to install a whole house fan in new residential construction in California…from what I read…yes, but is this mandatory or voluntary for CalGreen?

February 3, 2011 at 7:55 pm
(4) Juan says:


I ask a friend of mine and he told me “A whole house fan is not required by the codes. CALGreen Section 4.507.1 requires whole house fans to have insulated louvers or covers….but that is only if you provide a whole house fan voluntarily. The codes do not require one.”

February 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(5) Tom Russell says:

@ Paul M
My interest in blogging has nothing to do with dancing to the current tune (whatever that might be), but rather with talking about my observations of the world and how it works with a eye towards eliminating waste and improving the conditions we live in. As a designer and builder I have always demanded of myself total intellectual honesty and integrity. Every thing we create has an effect on ourselves and all the others (people included) who share our space and time. Obviously my reality is limited and shaped by my experience, but I have grown to the point where I feel my understanding of the physical world (particularly in relation to home building and maintenance) is accurate and extensive. The particular issue of fire sprinklers in homes interested me because I truly believe they will be an expense which will not return much value when you look at the overall society ( and hence to the average homeowner). And I suspect that in the long run, the insurance industry will have to cover some of the damages which will occur and hence will push the codes back in the other direction. But maybe by expressing my thoughts, I can hasten the growth of understanding which will lead to less waste and a more beautiful and (dare I say it?) sustainable environment to live in.

February 21, 2011 at 11:31 am
(6) Eric says:

Well……this has caught my attention. My work has taken me all over the world and I have to say that I agree with Tom Russell’s view of reality. We all have a limited perception of reality that is shaped by our personal experience. A successful person is one that always tries to widen that perception. On the subject of the damn sprinklers……our government (state or federal) is behaving the way people do when discussing death by shark attack versus automobile accident. Everyone fears the shark attack but has no problem hopping in the car to go for a drive. This is analogous to people fearing death by house fire but not worrying about throwing a big party on their elevated outdoor deck. It is obvious that the sprinkler code is a special interest endeavor. At what point will our government stop trying to replace human personal responsibility with safety net laws? I could go on an on with this but let me conclude by saying that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and now fire sprinklers systems are only as good as the maintenance afforded them and will probably not help the idiot who gets drunk and passes out in bed while smoking a cigarette.

Thanks, Tom

February 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm
(7) Stefani says:

I agree with Tom!! These new codes are ridicuous, how can someone build a new home in 2011…the costs with the new codes just increased our potential home by almost $40,000. I am hoping that someone will reverse these changes immediately. Hope for any American who is planning to build a new home looks very scary….

April 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm
(8) David says:

I believe I just read in the news that a fireman was hurt because the ceiling colapsed from water build-up in the ceiling?

May 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm
(9) Debbie says:

What is the allowable amount of airflow through the outlets and light switches on outside walls?? I have a new house that when the wind blows the wind coming through my outlets moves the curtains. It can be very cold in the winter. Builder claims it is normal. So is it?

July 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm
(10) construction says:

There is a new article regarding the requirements of Carbon Monoxide strating on July 1, 2011

July 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm
(11) Grant Riley says:

Does anyone know the requirements and the code section that governs the width of banister railings on an exterior balcony?

October 11, 2011 at 11:37 pm
(12) Carlos builder says:

Well must agree even for us building a new home and telling by the way new code it going to cost WHAT!!!

November 1, 2011 at 10:58 am
(13) Sara says:

Does anyone know where it states in the 2010 CBC that suspended ceilings need to be installed per ASCE-7. I have ASCE-7, ASTM C635, and ASTM C636 but I wanted the connection between the building code and ASCE-7.

November 6, 2011 at 8:50 am
(14) STEVE says:

re – fire sprinkler system.
Agree with all previous posts pointing out the absolute redundancy of this pathetic interference towards the recovery of the home building industry.
Surely the better way to approach this is to offer the potential home owner the OPTION of a sprinkler system accompanied with an insurance companies statement of intent to reduce home insurance costs by a certain amount.
Once again I agree that any system will require maintenance and regular testing – who is going to be responsible for monitoring that? Another government agency?

December 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm
(15) Chris B says:

This discussion caught my attention. I am a systems engineer for a fire sprinkler contractor. I personally don’t think that fire sprinklers should be required by law to be installed in residences. That should be choice made by the owner/builder. That being said I chose to install fire sprinklers in my own home. I have found that the general pubic is typically misinformed about fire sprinkler systems. For one, a residential fire sprinkler system is solely a life safety system and is not intended to protect the structure itself. The intention is to provide a means of egress while “suppressing” the fire until the fire department arrives. I often hear people say “fire sprinklers cause more water damage than the fire does”. That is because the sprinklers prevented the fire from spreading and consuming the entire structure. A residential sprinkler puts out approx. .05 GPM/Sq. Ft. with a typ. max spacing of 16′X16′ (16x16x.05=12.8 GPM). How much water damage do you think will occur when the fire department puts the fire out with a 2.5″ hose backed by a pumper truck? Another common misconception is that if one sprinkler activates then they will all go off. This is not true, sprinklers are heat activated and therefore only the sprinklers above the fire go off. If a sprinkler system is properly designed and installed there is very little chance of a false activation as the ceiling temperature would have to be at least 155° for at least one minute. The most common reason I have seen for false activation is misuse. I have seen on many occasions (especially in hotel rooms) sprinklers that have been used as coat hangers and the bulb has been broken causing the sprinkler to activate. With the new flat plate concealed sprinklers that are the norm for residential systems (at least in my area) there is no way to accidentally damage the bulb. I just thought Id share a few points from the other side of the fence.

January 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm
(16) Gary says:

The best thing for “our” society in this beautiful state of California is to fire everyone responsible for putting these new codes in print. Just for incompetence, ignorance and total stupidity. They’re all idiots that aren’t worth the paper their checks are printed on. I doubt that a single one has ever designed or built anything. I wouldn’t hire any of them to design a four square on a elementary school yard. If the Governor was worth anything, he gather them all in a room and fire all of them.

January 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm
(17) Albie says:

Regarding Chapter 7 : Does anyone have an opinion on the covered gutter reference ? Trying to find some information or statistics that validate the need for this nonsensical fire code. The only opinion I’ve found came from a manufacturer of gutter toppers, and he thinks they’re a necessary safety element. I think not! Thanks in advance.

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May 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm
(24) Jim Darling says:

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