California’s roofing laws legalbeagle.com

Any roofer or contractor you work with should be licensed and knowledgable about the extensive California roofing codes. The state requires contractors or roofers who work on projects that cost $500 or more to be licensed by the state Contractors State License Board. Many cities also require a business license that is valid in that particular district.

A valid license ensures that the roofer or contractor is proficient in state regulations and has workers’ compensation insurance in the event of an accident or injury. Working with a licensed professional means you don’t have to worry about the potential added expense of property damage, injury of a worker on your property or incomplete or faulty work.

Once you have a licensed contractor ready to do your roofing job, they need to pull a roofing permit.


The rules governing roofing permits vary among districts. For example, the Department of Economic and Community Development in Daly City requires a permit application to be submitted for any roofing work covering more than 100 square feet. The district of Palm Desert requires a permit for any roofing work or repairs.

California roofing laws are found in the California Residential Code for residential structures and the California Building Code for nonresidential structures. California roofing requirements under the California Residential Code cover everything from what suitable materials to use to requirements for roof coverings to roof insulation. There are also provisions for fire classification, weather protection, re-roofing, roof drainage and solar power. The California Residential Code covers everything needed for a typical residential roofing or re-roofing project.

Roofing requirements for the design, materials, construction and quality of roof assemblies for residences are listed in the California Residential Code Chapter 9 . All materials used in a roof assembly must be both weather- and fire-safe, as well as compatible with each other. The code lays out specific requirements for a variety of roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, clay and concrete tile, metal roof shingles, mineral-surfaced roll roofing, slate and slate-type shingles, wood shingles, wood shakes and metal roof panels.

Roof-ceiling construction requirements are listed in California Residential Code Chapter 8. These requirements cover the design and construction of roof-ceiling systems, including roof framing, roof drainage, roof sheathing, ceiling finishes, roof ventilation and attic access. Chapter 8 includes specifics for such things as allowable lumber to use, the moisture content of fire retardant-treated wood, allowable rafter spans and use of ceiling joists. This code must be followed down to the specific feet and inches mentioned for each component.

Roofing requirements for the design, materials, construction and quality of roof assemblies and structures for commercial buildings are listed in California Building Code Chapter 15. The California Building Code covers many of the same topics as the California roofing requirements, including weather protection, fire classification, roof insulation, requirements for roof coverings and suitable materials to use. Since this section of the California roofing laws applies to structures that are not residential, namely businesses and commercial buildings, there are some additional provisions. These include impact resistance of the roof, seismic anchorage and radiant barriers.

The building code also includes California roofing codes on rooftop structures, such as penthouses, tanks, cooling towers, domes, flagpoles and fences. It takes into account everything other than a typical residential roof that a building may have. No matter what type of building you contract for, the roofer should be proficient in the appropriate California roofing laws to make sure everything is done up to code. During the roofing project, an inspector from the city in which the project is being done will check in with your project to make sure it is up to code, and to make mid-project corrections if needed. Cool Roofs in California

One of the roofing provisions unique to California is the idea of a cool roof. Cool roofs are made up of materials that reflect the sun’s heat off the roof’s surface so that they retain and pass on less heat. They reduce the need for air conditioning by naturally cooling the property and, in turn, reduce electricity bills and carbon emissions. For this reason, cool roofs became part of California’s energy code, the Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Cool roofs are required for both residential and nonresidential projects in certain climate zones throughout the state of California, generally those with high-sun conditions. Requirements vary by roof style or slope.

Only certain roofs qualify as cool roofs. Under Title 24, the roofing materials need to be sufficiently rated by the Cool Roof Rating Council. They must also meet the Solar Reflective Index values indicated in the code for being able to reflect the sun’s energy back into the atmosphere. Cool roofs come in most any color and style, including shingle, tile and spray-on liquid coatings.

Due to California’s climate, many areas of the state are at high risk for fires. This means that building within designated fire-hazard severity zones is greatly restricted. California roofing codes state that any property within a very high fire-hazard severity zone requires a Class A fire-retardant roof covering. Class A roof assemblies and coverings can withstand severe fires. Buildings within downgraded state responsibility areas require a Class B fire-retardant roof covering. Class B roof assemblies and coverings can withstand moderate fires.

Installation of Class A or Class B roof coverings is mandatory when any roofing work is carried out on 50 percent or more of the total roof area of the property. Structures outside of fire-hazard zones require at least Class C fire-retardant roof covering. Class C roof assemblies and coverings can withstand light fires. The fire safety designations extend to roofs made from shingles and shakes, as well as those with solar panels. California Solar Roofing Requirement

Under a mandate adopted by the California Energy Commission, new homes built in the state of California must have solar roofing, beginning in 2020. Title 24 requirements also apply to additions and alterations to existing buildings. This new standard aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state and slash energy use by homeowners. The California Energy Commission estimates that homes will use more than 50 percent less energy with rooftop solar electricity generation. This, in turns, reduces greenhouse gases by an amount equivalent to removing 115,000 gas-guzzling cars from the road.

Key to the new California roofing standards is that the rooftop solar generation is enough to meet the home’s annual electricity needs without producing too much excess energy. When excess solar energy is produced, it is exported from the home to the state’s solar grid, often when it may not be needed and at no financial benefit to the homeowner. Questions to Ask When Hiring a Roofer

Whether you are undertaking roofing for a house or other building, you want to make sure you hire a roofer who is not only licensed, but who is knowledgeable with California roofing codes. Not hiring the right roofer can be a disaster for your home or building and lead to a lot of extra costs down the road, especially if the roof violates your local roofing permit requirements.