How to add $2,300 to the cost of a home. WSJ.com 6/22/12
Except for the richer neighborhoods, California's housing market remains depressed. So naturally the state's regulators want to make homes even less affordable.
The California Energy Commission recently mandated new energy efficiency standards starting in 2014, including a rule that all new homes have roofs equipped for solar paneling. The panels are still optional—for now.
Other highlights: Ceiling fans, hot water pipes, air conditioning units and even the sunlight exposure from windows will now be regulated. Lighting systems must be controlled by sensors, roofs must be slanted in the right direction to have full access to the sun, and sunlight must not be impeded by chimneys and skylights. This is a full employment act for building inspectors, not builders.
The new rules will increase the average construction cost of a new California home by an estimated $2,300—at a time when too few homes are being built in California. Between 2007 and 2011 home values in the state slumped by slightly less than half, down 46.7%. The mortgage default rate in the Golden State earlier this year was the second highest in the nation, and the state boasts nine of the 10 cities with the highest foreclosure rates, led by Stockton, Modesto and Riverside.
The Commission says not to worry about the extra costs because the new rules will reduce energy use by 25% and save homeowners money on the houses they increasingly can't afford to buy. "This will be great for everybody who buys a house and wants to put solar on the roof," Commissioner Karen Douglas said. But you'll still have to pay even if you don't want solar on the roof.
Like the Aztecs, California's politicians now so worship the sun and wind that they have made economic growth, job creation and now housing affordability an afterthought. This is one reason that the demographer Joel Kotkin says California is becoming a state mainly for the rich, who don't care about such costs, and the poor who depend on the government. Middle-class families who can do so are moving out.