A new home (completed in early 2020) in San Jose California does not have GFCI outlets in all the bathrooms. I thought this was a requirement (according to https://www.redwoodcity.org/home/showdocument?id=15416). There are also some kitchen outlets that don't seem to follow this code. I'm not sure whether the builder has overlooked this or there is some loophole to the rule (such as when the builder got approval for the plans).

In general, I'd like a better understanding of how building code is defined and enforced. E.g. what level is it defined (municipal/state/federal) and how it is applied to buildings. Ultimately I'd like to know if the builder made a mistake or if I'm uninformed.

  • $\begingroup$ Contact the building inspector or building control in your area, we cannot be sure. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 5:20
  • $\begingroup$ Why can't you be sure? I'm not a civil engineer, but I thought there would be a well defined system for defining and applying building code. How does the system work? $\endgroup$
    – Klik
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ Because I work in a different location, do you expect all of us to purchase your local regulations just to try to answer your question? Contact the proper authorities. $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ No, but I didn't expect someone who doesn't have an answer to comment. $\endgroup$
    – Klik
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 7:33
  • $\begingroup$ I have designed sand built two houses and the first thing one tends to do is find out about the regs by contacting the relevant authorities (a common sense approach...) - as pointed out in the answer... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 7:52

2 Answers 2


New homes are inspected by local authorities to comply with local building requlations. As Mike says, give them a call.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) are standardized guidelines for electrical construction created by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NEC are guidelines, not laws. The NEC is adopted into law by states and local jurisdictions.

Different states adopt different versions of NEC guidelines as shown by NFPA NEC Enforcement. enter image description here

The 2017 NEC is the base model code for the 2019 California Electrical Code (CEC) of the California Building Standards Commission (CBSC). CBSC adopt statewide ammendments to deal with statewide issues with the NEC.

California Building Standards Commission - Information Bulletin 20-01

Local authorities adopt statewise references with local ammendments to deal with local issues.

From San Jose, California - Code of Ordinances Title 24 - Technical Codes

24.01.233 - Electrical code.
"Electrical code" means the California Electric Code or CEC, 2019 edition, based on 2017 National Electric Code promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association, as amended and set forth in the California Building Standards Code,

24.06.100 - Adoption of technical provisions of CEC.

24.06.110 - Portions of CEC which are not approved, adopted or incorporated by reference.

This is a top-down, bottom-up approach. Standards come from the top, but issues with these standards are found/tweaked at the local level. Local can only change local. Local ammendments will drive state ammendments. Hopefully, incorporated at some point at the national level. Hence, revisions of NEC.

The use of all and some in the OP's question, implies there are some GFCI's in the home. The code does not require all GFCI protected outlets to be GFCI's. One GFCI can protect multiple downstream outlets.

Test these GFCI outlets and see if other outlets are powered. Plug a light into a non-GFCI outlet and press Test on GFCI. If lamp goes out, then it is powered by GFCI. Press Reset to reset GFCI.

From GFCI Load Wiring - Electrical 101 enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for this. I was looking for information on how the building code system worked. $\endgroup$
    – Klik
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 20:24

Ever since 1975 use of at least one GFCI outlet and preferably more is mandatory in bathrooms or anywhere where there is the likelihood of moisture being near the outlet by NEC (National Electric Code).

If you have only one GFCI in any bathroom, all other outlets in that bathroom must be downstream to that GFCI and controlled by it.

You can ask your local building department to inspect your home and demand the builder to fix any problems. In the state of California, any home-builder has an implied 10 years warranty for these kinds of issues.

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent answer to my implied question. I'm a mechatronics engineer by trade and would like to learn about how building code works (I never took any civil courses). Could you point me in a direction to educate myself on this topic? $\endgroup$
    – Klik
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ See my comment about GFI breakers. $\endgroup$
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Klik, there are courses and books for training to be an electrician or journeyman or technician. there are examinations, online courses, a variety of media. Just search for what you are looking for. Not cheap though, and you may need to volunteer the required hours. $\endgroup$
    – kamran
    Commented Jul 27, 2020 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Klik, the NEC is available online, and you don't need to be an engineer to understand it. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 16:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.