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Frequently Asked Questions

Find Out About the California Historical Building Code

What is the California Historical Building Code?

The California Historical Building Code provides regulations and standards for the rehabilitation, preservation, restoration (including related reconstruction) or relocation of historical buildings. The standards are intended to allow the restoration or change of occupancy so as to preserve the historical building's original or restored elements and features. The Code also encourages energy conservation and a cost effective approach to preservation; provides for reasonable safety from fire, seismic forces or other hazards for occupants and users of historical buildings; and provides reasonable availability and usability by the physically disabled. In general, the California Historical Building Code provides flexibility in meeting code requirements. Most older buildings do not meet today's building code standards, and may have to conform to new codes when doing major renovation or repair if they are not historically designated. A historically designated building would be exempt from some current building code requirements, and/or may be able to meet code requirements using alternative means and methods.

If I have a historically designated building, would I be able to use the California Historic Building Code (CHBC) for repairs to it?

Yes. The California Historical Building Code is applied by the Development Services Department when reviewing plans for projects involving designated structures.

What advantage would it be to me to use the California Historical Building Code?

Designation and use of the California Historical Building Code can save significant amounts of money in such a case, while retaining the historical integrity of your building. A small but useful benefit is that if you have a historical property, you are not subject to the law requiring changing toilets to low flow models when a building is sold. There are life and safety codes that do still need to be met, however, like fire and seismic safety. You may be able to use alternative means and methods with the California Historical Building Code to meet those code requirements. See the "Requests for Alternate Materials and Methods" section of the Development Services Department's website.

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