What Is the California Building Code?

Many people involved in building design, construction, or even construction litigation are under the erroneous impression that the prevailing building code in California is the Uniform Building Code (UBC) and that it is adopted and amended by local cities and counties. While this has historically been true, it is no longer completely accurate. Although localities may and still do “adopt” the UBC and other related codes, such action is a confusing and redundant exercise. All of California is now governed by the 1995 California Building Standards Code, as amended since 1995, which is also known as California Code of Regulations, Title 24, governed by the California Building Standards Commission.

The 1998 California Building Standards Code, which is based on the 1997 Uniform Codes, is now available and will go into effect on July 1, 1999. Localities can adopt amendments that make the code only more rigorous; they cannot diminish it. Any local amendments have to be filed with the state with certain findings.

CCR Title 24 consists of the following ten parts:

PART 1 Building Standards Administrative Code 1995 edition (contains administrative regulations of the California Building Standards Commission, and regulations of all state agencies that implement or enforce building standards).

PART 2 California Building Code 1995 edition (contains general construction standards and references the Uniform Building Code).

PART 3 California Electrical Code 1995 edition (contains electrical standards and references the National Electrical Code).

PART 4 California Mechanical Code 1995 edition (contains mechanical standards and references the Uniform Mechanical Code).

PART 5 California Plumbing Code 1995 edition (contains plumbing standards and references the Uniform Plumbing Code).

PART 6 California Energy Code 1995 edition (contains energy conservation standards).

PART 7 California Elevator Safety Construction Code 1995 edition (contains elevator construction standards).

PART 8 California Historical Building Code 1995 edition (contains alternative construction standards for qualified historical buildings).

PART 9 California Fire Code 1995 edition (contains only fire safety maintenance standards and references the Uniform Fire Code).

PART 10 California Code for Building Conservation 1995 edition (contains building conservation standards and references the Uniform Code for Building Conservation).

PART 12 California Reference Standards Code 1995 edition (contains construction testing standards).

All parts are available from:

International Conference of Building Officials
5360 South Workman Mill Road
Whittier, California 90601
(562) 699-0541 or 1-800-284-4406

The California Building Standards Commission website is at: www.bsc.ca.gov.