California’s Low-Flow Toilet Law: Here’s What You Need to Know.

Have you heard? Part of California’s Low-Flow Toilet Law took affect January 1, 2014. But does everyone have to swap their old toilet for a new one?

The short answer is “not yet.” For now, the law (SB 407 Padilla) only affects those who are doing an addition that increases the square footage of a home by 10% or more, those who spend $150,000 or more on retrofits or improvements, or those who are building a new home. If you fall into any of those three categories, you are hopefully working with a contractor who knew about the law already. If not, the law could bring additional expenses and unwanted surprises to your project.

SB 407 was originally passed in 2009, and it affects commercial properties as well. It’s not just for toilets, either. According to the law, a “fixture” is defined as toilets, urinals, shower heads and faucets. If you open a new permit, or if you already have a permit that has not yet been finalized, the building inspector will go through the entire structure and check for low-flow fixtures before issuing a finalized permit.

The law stipulates additional changes that take effect in 2017 and 2019, and if you own an older home with non-compliant fixtures you will want to educate yourself. To read the full text of the law, click here.