Another Way to Prevent Construction Defect Litigation

By: Kellane Taylor

The building industry must follow many requirements and laws. There are local and state building codes, there is the ICBO, there are regulations for use and development of the land. All are designed to protect the consumer from faulty products as well as to set high industry standards.

Buildings must be structurally engineered following the rules of physics and geometry. All physical requirements concerning health and safety of the occupants as well as the quality of the product must be followed to the letter, if litigation is to be avoided.

This includes the creation and the implementation of the Title 24 report.

Every building must have it. Permits will not be issued without it.

The Report Itself

The Title 24 report provides your formula for the minimum in construction products that will provide an energy-efficient building. This means a building that uses no more than its fair share of available energy. If the theory of the law is correct, and if the law is followed, then we will reduce the need to build more power plants or import more oil to meet California's energy needs in the future.

But even though this is a sensible law, and even though builders make an effort to follow it, there are many mistakes being made in the industry. These mistakes leave the builder subject to everything from complaints from uncomfortable occupants to the eventual construction defect lawsuit.

Examples of Errors in Title 24 Reports
1. Glazing areas and U-values miscalculated.
2. Eaves, rakes and overhangs exaggerated.
3. Garage doors omitted.
4. Insulation values and slab-edge U-values incorrect.
5. Inaccurate mechanical equipment sizing.
6. Shading coefficients incorrect.
7. Climate zone incorrect.
8. Floors over unconditioned space omitted.
9. Ductwork location on plans and report not in agreement.
10. Doors with glass modeled as solid wood.
11. Zonal control credit improperly modeled.
12. Vaulted ceilings modeled as attics.
Examples of Errors in Field Construction
1. External water heater blanket not installed per report.
2. Roller shades not installed per report.
3. FAU efficiencies less than indicated in report.
4. Air conditioner efficiencies less than indicated in report.
5. Water heater efficiencies less than indicated in report.
6. Insulation values less than indicated in report.
7. Thermal mass areas less than indicated in report.
Choices are Market-Driven

A common misconception is that there is only one way to design a report. That is not true, as there are a variety of combinations of construction materials that will make the report "comply". The first question to ask about the project is "what features will make the product more marketable?"

The selections should be prioritized by importance to the consumer. For instance, if it is determined that the market desires dual-glazed metal framed windows, then this should be made a parameter of the report. You select the more expensive materials first, since the selection of the basic materials seriously impacts the marketability of the product.

Another consideration may be: do you wish to provide window coverings at any (or all) windows? If they are standard because your customers like them, then they can be used in the report to lower requirements for insulation or HVAC equipment efficiency ratings.

What is the Law?

All new buildings in California must meet the Energy Efficiency Standards contained in Title 24, Part 6 of the California Code of Regulations.

Section 25402 of the Public Resources code directs the California Energy Commission to:

Prescribe by regulation, ...building design and construction standards which increase the efficiency in the use of energy for new residential and nonresidential buildings....The commission shall periodically update the standards and adopt any revision which, in its judgment, it deems necessary. No city, county or state agency shall issue a permit for any building unless the building satisfies the standards prescribed by the California Energy Commission.
(from the 1995 Residential Manual, For Compliance with the Energy Efficiency Standards by the California Energy Commission.)


Responsible builders owe it to themselves to wisely invest in the best energy report that can be designed and implemented to insure that Title 24 code is met and that proposed buildings perform as the Title 24 law intended.

Licensed, insured and certified Title 24 consultants offer valuable services in designing an accurate report for your project. Above all, such consultants will be valuable players on your team in designing cost-effective and litigation-free products.

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