According to an April 24 Wall Street Journal report ("As California Drought Drags On, Home Builders Vie for a Voice"), California home builders are working hard to spin legislative arguments in their favor, fending off calls for proposed building restrictions and moratoriums on new construction, and instead pushing the idea that new homes conserve water far better than older homes.
At the heart of the debate is an April 1 mandate by Gov. Brown that will require users of state water to cut consumption by an average of 25% from 2013 levels. The State Water Resources Control Board is scheduled to review and adopt the water-conservation plan on May 5 or 6. The mandate would take effect in June, and homebuilders, say the WSJ, worry that local water districts and municipalities opting could enact moratoriums on adding any new connections to their systems, a move that could curtail new construction in those districts. California water-management officials say a separate program for curtailing water-use on severely depleted watersheds could result in the state asking more water districts to stop adding water taps until they find additional sources of water.
New homes, as well as older homes can cut water usage by installing low-flow fixtures and water-saving appliances. But new homes can further put a dent in reduced water flows by seeking efficient piping options. (See "Efficient Hot-Water Piping.," JLC Mar/13 which address the sizing and layout of water pipes between a hot water heater and fixtures. Efficient layouts and optimal-sized piping can significantly reduce the time an occupant runs the tap before hot water gets to the fixture). And new homes can more easily provide water-savings in the yard, by either installing xeriscaping that doesn't requires water or installing underground irrigation systems and water-sipping methods that don’t lose a lot of water to evaporation. Read more.
State of the trades. While homebuilders are facing only a potential gloom, roofers and gutter installers are deep into a real-live slow-down, reports Gary Thill in Replacement Contractor. “A drought is kind of a drought in business,” Mark Graham, associate executive director of technical services for the National Roofing Contractors Association is quoted saying in Thill's report. “For most building owners, if it’s not raining, you’re not having leaks, and you’re not thinking about your roof.”
The same holds true for gutter installers.
Not everyone is suffering. However, some trade contractors are swimming in work because of the drought, reports Thill. Certainly landscapers are working fast and furious to install water-efficient irrigation. And plumbers, called in to install low-flow fixtures, as well as fixing stoppages in low-flow toilets, are reaping the rewards of California's water-reduction mandate. Read more.