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Green Building requirements for remodel homes

Original post made by Aj, Duveneck/St. Francis, on May 8, 2013


We were recently planning on remodeling our house, which includes significant changes to existing house. Along with all the requirements and rules that the city provides, the green building requirements are the most vague. Do we need to do it? What are the ways we can avoid additional requirements? Does permit approval depend on getting these requirements fixed?

Information on this important topic is not clear.

Anybody can help?

Thanks for your help!


Comments (8)

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Posted by depends
a resident of Downtown North
on May 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm

New codes, green or not green are specific to the changes you want to make. A new bathroom may have half a dozen new codes depending not he state of your old one.

Only way to avoid complying to a new code is to not make a change at all. Some codes make sense, and you may want to change with the new code.

Make a list of what you want to change, take it to the PA development office and ask them.

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Posted by Aj
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Thanks "depends", but thats a fairly obvious answer.

I am just wondering about the green building requirements, since it is relatively new. We have an architect to help out with everything else.

The city has one person dedicated to the green building initiative and she no longer is available at the development center.

What are other people's experiences with this?

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Posted by Just Did It
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 9, 2013 at 10:49 am

We just remodeled our kitchen. Apparently , the previous homeowner did the previous remodel off-permit, and what a mess! Without inspectors, a lot os safety violations were committed, such as not updating the wiring, which could have burned down the house! The outside walls were not insulated, although the previous owners insisted they were, and there were holes in the drywall. All of this had to be corrected, which pushed the project way over budget and schedule.

When the project was completed, and the city inspector came out, he insisted on inspecting the entire two-story house as well as the kitchen. This included interrupting my DIL nursing her newborn son! It also included the inspector telling us that our one-year-old smoke detectors were out of date, our new carbon monoxide detector was out of date, and that they had to be replaced that same day with combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors that were ionized and had lights ($$$). Otherwise, the kitchen remodel would not be approved!

The remodeler was ordered by the inspector to go out and buy the new detectors and install them before the inspector was to return two hours later, so the remodeler had to do this on his lunch and we had to pay for his time. Then, the inspector did not show up in two hours, but four.

I complained to the city, the inspector was reprimanded, but I am out money for new detectors I did not need, plus the cost of the remodeler's time, and the city does not wish to reimburse me. How about the inspector reimbursing me?

To complicate matters, the stress of this caused a relapse of a chronic condition that had been worsening at the time, and I now have a huge hospital bill for five days of infusions of a very expensive medication! I would certainly love to be reimbursed for what the insurance does not pay, and for the increase in my premium this will cause!!!

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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

Just did it - we recently remodeled a bathroom and as part of the process, we were required to upgrade all of our smoke/CO2 detectors too.

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Posted by Same here
a resident of Midtown
on May 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Same here. We just did a remodel and had to upgrade all our smoke detectors as part of the remodel. Our contractor knew about it. Your architect and and contractors should have known and told you. They are as responsible for this mishap as the city is.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Your contractor should have known about the requirement. It is not new and every remodel or new house is required to be up to date.

As far as green building goes - a lot of their stuff is a wish list, not necessarily required. What is definitely required are the demolition disposal specifications. You and/ or your contractor need to make sure to save every receipt and documentation or you'll get fined big time.

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Posted by Just Did It
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2013 at 8:30 am

I guess the things that are upsetting me most are that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the detectors we had, they were one year old. Even the inspector's supervisor said that the inspector was wrong to insist in replacement. The dates the detectors were made we're on the backs of them, but he did not look at them.

Also, the inspector insisted that I climb the stairs not once, but twice, in spite of the fact that I have MS and am not supposed to do so. I had to literally pull myself up the stairs by the bannister! This exhausted me for the rest of the day. The next day I had to be hospitalized and infused for five days with a very expensive medication to put the disease back on remission. Have a 30% copay for this stuff, and it runs about &25,000 per liter per day. I had 1.2 liters per day! This on top of the room rate, intensive monitoring as the medication has serious side effects, etc. $$$$$$$$$$!!!!!!!!!

Can you understand my frustration? It did not have to happen this way, the inspector made it unnecessarily expensive and stressful. To say nothing of the embarrassment my nursing DIL experienced! The guy was given an official reprimand, but that seems insufficient to me. I need kor compensation than that!

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Posted by calebdrake
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 19, 2013 at 1:23 am

calebdrake is a registered user.

I have the same remodeling issues back then. Scoured the net even, found useful sites anyway though. T'was great help. You guys can check Web Link for one. They're very helpful and informative for DIYers. :)

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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