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7 Building Code Compliance Requirements for California Baths & Showers

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guide to bathroom codes in the state of California

What You Need to Know to Make Your House a Home

Your heart is set on a new bathroom. The only problem is that your dreams might conflict with California rules and regulations. When it comes to building codes, planning ahead is far better than trying to do things as an afterthought, and your bathroom is one area where you’d rather not have to redo all of your hard work after the fact.

How can you ever possibly dig through the mountain of compliance requirements that might apply to your project? Although working with a professional is the only guaranteed solution for staying up to standard, educating yourself about the basics is also a good way to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Here are seven codes that you should know.

1. Shower Sizing
Different municipalities may impose minimum shower sizes, but many stick to the California Building Code. For instance, according to the city of Berkeley, your shower needs to be at least 1,024 square inches, which is equivalent to a square space with 32-inch sides.

Shower enclosures can’t be too long or skinny either since they must be able to encompass 30-inch-diameter circles. The rules also specify where you have to take measurements from and what’s allowed to stick out into the shower space, like valves and safety bars.

2. Shower Doors
Easy access is a must for shower doors. Yours should open outward into the bathroom, and they need to maintain unobstructed clearance zones of at least 22 inches in width.

3. Plumbing Fixtures and Water Conservation
California conserves water by instituting maximum flow rates for different fixture types. These rates vary for faucets, shower heads, toilets and other fixtures. To pass inspection, you’ll also need to upgrade anything that falls short of the standards.

4. Backing Boards: Material Choices
The areas surrounding your showers and baths need to be properly water resistant. While you can choose from a range of moisture-blocking materials, such as fiber-cement boards or reinforced gypsum, you’ll have to ensure that these components extend at least 6 feet above floor level.

5. Required Ventilation
Bathrooms are supposed to include some form of mechanical ventilation. Any exhaust fans you use have to be Energy Star compliant, electrically separate from lighting and controlled by readily accessible humidistats.

6. Electrical Rules
Water and electricity make dangerous neighbors, so California mandates that you take precautions. In addition to separating outlet circuits from lighting circuits, you’ll have to use ground-fault current interrupt, or GFCI, hardware anytime you want to place an outlet within 6 feet of a sink, shower or bathtub.

7. Lighting Rules
Your lighting must use high-efficiency fixtures, and in bathrooms, you should include automatic vacancy sensors to save electricity. There are also restrictions on what kind of recessed lighting you can use, so make sure you’re compliant before falling in love with a particular fixture.

Do these rules seem like a lot to remember? Talking to a specialist might make it easier to keep track of your obligations. Find out more by visiting Bath USA.