Quarterly News for California Building Departments

Issue #49, Jan - Mar 2016

Did You Know?Is it manufactured or factory‑built?

Manufactured home

Did you know there is a difference between a manufactured home and a factory-built home? Sure is, but there are also similarities. In our October-December 2015 edition of The Willdan Letter, we discussed the Tiny House fad. In doing so we discussed how most so-called tiny houses with wheels and towing equipment are most likely recreational vehicles by definition provided in California law.

To continue, a housing unit that is constructed off site but is not a recreational vehicle by definition, must be either a manufactured home or factory-built housing. You may be wondering, what is the difference! Aren't these the same: just modular homes? Both are manufactured in a factory setting and are transported on the highways to the site for occupancy. But there are substantial differences. The difference is in the construction standards and government oversight.

Manufactured Home

A manufactured home, as defined by California's Health and Safety Code Section 18007, is (in short) a single family dwelling transported in one or more sections, is eight body feet or more in width, or 40 body feet or more in length in the traveling mode, or when erected on site has 320 or more square feet of floor area.

The construction standards and procedural regulations are adopted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pursuant to preemptive federal law known as the National Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C., commencing with Section 5401). Manufactured homes must bear a HUD Label, at a specified location on the rear exterior wall, to indicate compliance with the HUD standards. The federal standards require a manufactured home to have a permanent chassis, albeit much of the running gear is often removed for recycling after the home is installed for occupancy. To alter a manufactured home requires approval from California's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by plan review and inspection. Installations are governed by regulations adopted by HCD in Title 25, Division 1, Chapter 2 of the California Code of Regulations. The regulations provide for the common mobilehome park type installation on piers and pads with seismic restraints, or a foundation system generally as a real property improvement. The installation inspection is performed by the enforcement agency, which is HCD, or local government that has assumed enforcement responsibility for the Mobilehome Parks Act in Health and Safety Code, Division 13, Part 2.1. Prior to the name change, manufactured homes were once known in law as mobilehomes, and trailer coaches before that.

Factory-built Housing

Health and Safety Code Section 19971 defines “Factory-built housing” as (in short) a residential building, dwelling unit, or an individual dwelling room or combination of rooms, or building component, assembly, or system such as a completed wall panel, and is manufactured in such a manner that concealed parts cannot be inspected before installation. The National Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards Act of 1974 exempts homes built to the conventional model code standards. FBH does not include a manufactured home, mobilehome, recreational vehicle, or a commercial modular. Under California law Factory-Built Housing (FBH) must be manufactured to comply with the California Building Standards Code, in Title 24, and regulations adopted by HCD in Title 25. FBH must bear an HCD issued insignia to indicate compliance with the applicable Title 24 and 25 standards. FBH may or may not have any type of chassis or running gear. It must be installed on a foundation system under permit and inspection by the local building department. Article 6 of Title 25, Division 1, Chapter 3, Subchapter 1, requires the FBH manufacturer to provide two sets of installation plans, one is for the local building department. Alterations after installation must be approved by the local building department.

Legislative Update

Bills of Interest to California Building Departments

California senat seats

With the new year comes the second year of the 2015/2016 two-year California Legislative session. The Legislature's Senate and Assembly schedules show these important dates for the new session:

  • January 4, 2016, both the Senate and Assembly reconvene for the 2016 legislative year.
  • February 19, 2016, is the last day to introduce legislative bills for 2016 passage.

The following bills were passed during the 2015 portion of the 2015/2016 legislative session and are effective law on January 1, 2016, with some impact on building codes, the code adoption process, building designs, or local building departments. Also below are those bills that did not pass in 2015, but are still active and may proceed in the months ahead.

Charging station

AB 662 (Chapter 742, Statutes of 2015): This bill requires a commercial place of public amusement, as defined, constructed on or after January 1, 2020, or renovated on or after January 1, 2025, to provide and maintain at least one adult changing station with specified signage.

AB 1236 (Chapter 598, Statutes of 2015): This bill requires a city, county, or city and county with a population of 200,000 or more residents to adopt an ordinance, by September 30, 2016, that creates an expedited and streamlined permitting process for electric vehicle charging stations. A city, county, or city and county with a population of less than 200,000 residents must adopt the ordinance by September 30, 2017. The bill would require electric vehicle charging stations to meet specified standards.

SB 287 (Chapter 449, Statutes of 2015): This bill requires privately owned occupied buildings of Group A, B, E, F, I, M and R occupancies, with a specified occupancy load, to be equipped with an automated or automatic external defibrillator.

The following bills did not pass in 2015 but may possibly continue in the legislative process in 2016.

greywater in use sign

water meter

AB 307: The bill states the Legislature's intent to enact law regarding graywater recharge. This generally means that amendments will be forthcoming, but there has been little activity since its introduction.

AB 576: Proposes to authorize the Building Standards Commission to appoint individuals from the energy and resource efficiency professions to the Commission's Code Advisory Committees. The bill states the legislature's intent to enact requirements to promote the creation of energy and resource efficient homes in California.

AB 723: Proposes to require the lease or rental agreement for a single-family residential real property or any portion of a multifamily residential real property or commercial real property that is entered into, renewed, or amended after January 1, 2016, or January 1, 2017, respectively, to specify the property owner's intent to replace non-complying plumbing fixtures with water-conserving plumbing fixtures by specified future dates.

AB 1005: The bill states the intent of the Legislature is to encourage and support the widespread deployment of electric vehicles, and protect competitive markets for electric vehicle charging stations and equipment.

AB 1013: Proposes to require the California Energy Commission to approve and test any public domain computer program designed to enable design professionals, builders, and government officials to estimate energy consumed by a proposed residential or nonresidential building. The test must verify the accuracy of such program six months prior to the effective date of any new or amended energy standard.

AB 1463: Proposes to require the State Water Resources Control Board, in consultation with the State Department of Public Health, the California Building Standards Commission, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and stakeholders, to establish water quality standards for systems using onsite treated water in internal plumbing of residential and commercial buildings.

SB 7: Proposes to authorize the Department of Housing and Community Development to develop and propose for adoption by the California Building Standards Commission, building standards that require the installation of water submeters in multiunit residential buildings.

Our descriptions are abbreviated so access the bills at the Legislature's website.

What's Up with the State?

News on State Agency Activities

California capital

CALIFORNIA BUILDING STANDARDS COMMISSION (CBSC) continues to administer the 2015 Triennial Code Adoption Cycle that will result in the publication of the 2016 edition of the California Building Standards Code in Title 24, California Code of Regulations.

Here is a description of recent and future activities.

  • A CBSC meeting was held on December 16, 2015, and some proposed building standards were adopted. Many other proposals are pending adoption.
  • The CBSC has scheduled a two-day meeting to occur on January 19 and 20, 2016, to consider adoption of the remaining proposed building standards. Agenda.
  • Following the final adoptions, the publication process will begin. Each of the three model code organizations (ICC, IAPMO, and NFPA) will publish the adopted provisions, including their respective model code provisions that were adopted. The scheduled publication date is July 1, 2016.
  • Health and Safety Code Section 18938 and 18941.5 establishes that the effective date of a new edition of the California Building Standards Code, in Title 24, California Code of Regulations, can be no sooner than 180 days following the publication date. The publication date is the date when the code is published and available for purchase by the public. The scheduled effective date is January 1, 2017.

The timeline and rulemaking documents are available at the CBSC website. Each of the state proposing agencies must also make the rulemaking documents available on their respective websites.

Read two recent Information Bulletins on this Building Standards Commission page.

  • Information Bulletin #15-04, dated October 23, 2015, discussing recently adopted and readopted emergency Title 24 building standards in response to the statewide drought.
  • Information Bulletin #15-05, dated December 8, 2015, listing legislative bills relating to buildings and building codes.

The Division of the State Architect (DSA) has nearly completed the rulemaking to amend the Certified Access Specialist program (CASp) regulations in Title 21, California Code of Regulations. Some originally proposed regulations have been withdrawn. Others are under review for approval by the Office of Administrative Law. A day-long public focus group meeting will be scheduled for the week of February 1, 2016, to consider the withdrawn items, and to discuss other possible regulatory amendments. Watch this DSA page for further announcements.

The Building Standards Commission has two new educational documents available on their website:

  • Maintaining Your Title 24 provides helpful information about how to keep your copy of Title 24 up to date.
  • Code Book Fundamentals is written especially for people beginning a career that involves the use of laws, regulations, and model codes and standards. Explanations are provided on how these documents are written, organized, and applied, along with other fundamentals. New building department personnel should find Code Book Fundamentals very helpful.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal has issued Code Interpretation #15-001 (Revised), dated November 12, 2015, clarifying California Building Code Section 907. requirements for visible alarms in Group R-2 occupancies. See the discussion and answer at the OSFM website.

The Commissioners of the Building Standards Commission will be interviewing candidates for the Commission's Executive Director position at a closed door meeting on January 14, 2016.

Dates, Links & Useful Acronyms

Important Dates

January 1, 2016: Laws enacted in 2015 become effective, unless a specified later date is provided in the individual bills. See our Legislation discussion.

January 19 and 20, 2016: Two day Building Standards Commission meeting to consider adoption of the 2015 Triennial Code Adoption Cycle proposals for the 2016 edition of the California Building Standards Code to be published in Title 24, California Code of Regulations. An agenda is available at this CBSC page.

January 24, 2016: Last day to register for the February 24, 2016, CASp examination in Oakland and Hawthorne CA. Details and future examination dates are available at this DSA page.

March 14-17, 2016: CALBO Annual Business Meeting in San Diego. Details at CALBO.

Useful Websites

Title 24 online

State Laws

Legislative Bills

Building Standards Commission

Dept. of Housing and Community Development

Office of the State Fire Marshal

Division of the State Architect


  • CAC: Code Advisory Committee, used by the California Building Standards Commission.
  • CBC: California Building Code in Title 24, California Code of Regulations
  • CBSC: California Building Standards Code, or California Building Standards Commission, depending on the use and context. 
  • CCR: California Code of Regulations
  • CFR: Code of Federal Regulations
  • HSC: Health and Safety Code (a California state law)
  • NOPA: Notice of Proposed Action, a required rulemaking document announcing a proposed adoption of a regulation, including a building standard, along with information as to the nature of the proposal, any scheduled hearing, and how to obtain the proposed regulatory language and how to submit comments.
  • ET: Express Terms, a required rulemaking document providing proposed regulatory language. 
  • ISOR: Initial Statement of Reasons, a required rulemaking document used to provide the rationale for a proposed regulation, including a building standard.
  • FSOR: Final Statement of Reasons, a rulemaking document used to provide the final discussion and rationale for a proposed regulation, including a building standard, that is in final form and up for adoption. 

Other News & Things to Remember

Health and Safety Code Section 17926 requires the owner of a dwelling unit intended for human occupancy that is equipped with a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage, to install a State Fire Marshal approved carbon monoxide device. The provided timetable was:

  • All existing dwelling units on or before July 1, 2011.
  • All other existing dwelling units, except hotels and motels, intended for human occupancy on or before January 1, 2013.
  • All existing hotel and motel dwelling units, on or before January 1, 2017.

The construction value threshold for use when applying California Building Code Section 11B-202.4, Exception 8, is adjusted by the Division of the State Architect each January 1. Watch this DSA page for the posting of the 2016 threshold value. The 2015 valuation was $147,863.00.

The term modular, or modular home, is slang, and is not used in California law or regulations governing the type of residential housing or recreational vehicle that is made away from the site of occupancy.

Projects inspected or plan-checked by Willdan.