Retrofit Los Angeles

When you sell a property in California, during escrow you are required to retrofit the property to meet certain standards. If you have purchased the property in the past 10 years it has likely already been retrofitted, but for homes that haven't sold in many years this could be a big seller bill in escrow.

City of Los Angeles Retrofit Requirements

Starting in about 2009, California’s Local and State laws require property owners to retrofit their property when they sell. If you purchased your property within the last 5 – 10 years, chances are the property was already retrofitted before you bought it. In that case, you still need to get a retrofit inspection and obtain a new certificate of compliance (cost ~$100 – $150) to show you are still in compliance. If the property hasn’t sold in the past decade – buckle up, because you will probably have to do some retrofit work prior to selling. Retrofit expenses are part of the seller side closing cost.

Every city in California has it’s own laws so make sure to check with your local municipality. Escrow Retro has an excellent page that explains the different city requirements for surrounding Los Angeles neighborhoods: http://www.escrowretro.com/city-code-requirements/

The Los Angeles Building Department has another great article explaining retrofit requirements for the City of LA on their website: http://ladbs.org/services/getting-started/requirements-when-selling.

When are there Retrofit Exceptions?

If the property is historic, you can get an exception for retrofit requirements. For Probate Sales, Foreclosure Sales, and Short Sales- sometimes sellers buy the retrofit closing costs onto the buyer.

Who can do a Retrofit Inspection?

  • Licensed Plumbers
  • General Contractors
  • Retrofit Companies

Any of these people you can hire to retrofit and fill out the Retrofit Certificate of Compliance for escrow. I strongly recommend using a Retrofit Company rather than a General Contractor (job is just too small to interest them) or a Plumber (may not be timely to deliver documents to escrow), because Retrofit Companies specialize in it.

4 Main Requirments for Retrofitting in Los Angeles:

There are 4 main components to the Retrofit requirements:

  1. Water Conserving Plumbing Fixtures
  2. Earthquake Seismic Upgrades
  3. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
  4. Window Glazing

WATER CONSERVING PLUMBING FIXTURES

Water Conserving Plumbing Fixtures are required by state law (Senate Bill 407, passed 2009). The bill was intended to conserve water and reduce wastewater flow to the sewage system.

In Los Angeles, we live in a dry arid area where drinking water is scarce and a valuable resource. For years LA residents have literally been flushing good water down the drain. The older toilets used to be 7 Gallons, then 5 Gallons, and finally 3.5 Gallons per flush. Nowadays they are required to be 1.6 Gallons per flush – which is also called “Low Flow”. There is also “Ultra Low Flow” Toilets that are 1.28 Gallons per flush, but I have heard they may not actually save any water because you usually have to flush them twice!

How Much Water Savings from installing Low Flow Toilets?

The annual water savings going from 3.5 Gallons per flush to 1.6 gallons per flush translates into about 12,000 gallons of water savings per toilet per year.

How do I tell if my Toilet is Low Flow?

You can check if your toilet is low flow by taking the top off the toilet and looking for a label or stamp for a number in Gallons.  

The typical cost to replace a toilet with a new low-flow toilet is ~$300-$400 per toilet.

CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS/SMOKE DETECTORS

1. Smoke Detectors

○ Smoke detectors, shall be mounted on the ceiling or wall of each existing room used for sleeping purposes and at a point centrally located on the wall or ceiling of the existing corridor or area giving access to these rooms. Where a dwelling unit has more than one story or where a dwelling unit has a basement, a detector shall be installed on each story or basement. Smoke detectors may be battery operated in Single Family Dwellings only. Smoke detectors in Three Unit or More Dwellings, Condominiums and Apartments shall be hard wired and be equipped with a battery backup (Hard wired detectors installed prior to May 11, 1999 DO NOT require battery backup). Please refer to the actual code section listed below and all manufactures requirements for location and type of smoke detectors required. (Section 91.8603 L.A.M.C. – Effective Aug 1, 1980)

2. Carbon Monoxide Detectors

○ An owner of a dwelling or sleeping units intended for human occupancy shall install a carbon monoxide device, approved by the State Fire Marshal and listed to UL2034 by a recognized testing agency, in each such existing unit having a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage, within the earliest applicable time period as follows: (1) For all existing single-family dwelling units intended for human occupancy on or before July 1, 2011. (2) For all other existing dwelling units intended for human occupancy on or before January 1, 2013. (Section 91.420.6.2.3 L.A.M.C.)

cost ~$80 each

Multifamily dwellings and condominiums must have hard-wired smoke detectors with battery backups.

Cost ~$150-200

Have you ever heard an annoying beep in a house every 10 seconds and wonder what it is? That is a low battery beep on a battery operated smoke detector. All you need to do to make it stop is replace the 9V batteries.

SEISMIC GAS SHUTOFF VALVES

Los Angeles has active earthquake faults. Seismic Gas Shutoff Valves shut off the flow of natural gas during a major earthquake to prevent fire or explosion. The valve will automatically shut off gas service during an earthquake of 5.4+ magnitude. About one in four fires after an earthquake is related to natural gas leaks. Los Angeles requires automatic gas shutoff devices to be present or installed at the time of sale or during significant renovations.

Automatic gas shutoff valves are installed on buildings’ gas house line (the pipe between the gas meter and the building).

Expert Tip: Make sure you get your EQ Seismic Shutoff Valve installation permitted, for a Retrofit Companies to give you credit for having an existing seismic valve installed correctly, they need to be able to find a permit for it. The permit fee for a seismic shut off valve in the City of LA is $80, and for Santa Monica and West Hollywood it is $300. Its a very small permit so sometimes it is missed. 

Multifamily Seismic Shutoff Valves. If you have multiple gas meters run from the same gas line, which is common in multifamily apartment buildings, sometimes you only need to install one seismic meter if they are arranged in an array. This can be significant savings, however, there is a big downside.

For EQ Seismic Meters, if they are not accessible, you should not run into this issue, but if they are hit or bumped hard, they will trigger and turn off the gas. A lot of homeowners don’t know that this is one of the most common reasons for problems with the gas not working. Consumers usually call the landlord, property management company, or Gas Company and complain that their gas is turned off. It is very easy to reset a tripped seismic shutoff valve yourself. All you need is a small screw driver, and to know where the meter is. They have Green and Red dots in a viewport. If the dot is red it is disabled- Green means it is on.

Cost $400-$500 per valve.

WATER HEATING BRACING

Waterheaters can tip over during an earthquake and cause fire. The strapping or bracing requirement is designed to prevent this. It is strongly recommended to have flexible connectors to the water heater. There should be two straps, one on top and one below, and they should be fastened tightly. 

2 straps cost $100

WINDOW GLAZING

Big living room windows require window glazing to prevent them from shattering during an earthquake.

Los Angeles Retrofitting Companies:

Metro Retrofitting
7631 Alabama Avenue Suite A
Canoga Park, Ca. 91304
818-340-3060
www.gometroretro.com
License #505706

Retrofit Express
818-883-8772
22148 Sherman Way Ste 104
Canoga Park CA 91303
www.retrofitexpress.com
License #868505

Escrow Retro
6180 Dalecrest Ave
Woodland Hills CA 91367
818-883-2568
www.escrowretro.com
License #934168

LA Low Flush Toilets Inc
203 South Virgil Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
213-736-5445
www.lalowflush.net
License #770481

Eco-Safe Retrofit
16350 Ventura Blvd #D185
Encino CA 91436
818-521-5676
ecosaferetrofit.com
info@ecosaferetrofit.com
License: #944998

LGS Retrofitters
675 S. Glenwood Place
Burbank, CA 91506
800-771-5971
http://www.lgsretrofitters.com
License #900919

GS Retrofit
P.O. Box 54966
Los Angeles, CA 90054
877-806-9193
www.GSretrofit.com

Bluecloud Exterminators
213-700-6408
www.bluecloudexterminators.com
(yes they do Retrofit as well as Termite)

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