Frequently Asked Questions 
RECO for new homeowners and sellers

See the RECO Information web page for measures and the online compliance guide. 

Q.  I just bought a house in Berkeley.  How do I comply with RECO (Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance)? 
A. Assuming that you accepted full responsibility for RECO at the time of sale, you now have one year from the date of sale to install all required energy-saving measures as required by the ordinance.  Contact Community Energy Service Corporation (CESC, a non-profit) at 981-9819 for a final inspection once the measures are completed.

Q. I am about to sell a house.  How can I find out if the property has already met the RECO requirements?
A. To find out if a building is in compliance with RECO, contact the City’s Building and Safety Department via email at: reco@cityofberkeley.info The City maintains records for each residential property in Berkeley.  If further assistance is required, call 510-981-7440 and listen for the RECO option.  Be sure to give your name, the property address, number of units, and date of last sale (if known). 

Q. I'm planning on doing some remodeling work on my new house, and I may not be done within one year.  Do I still need to comply with RECO measures before I remodel?
A.  Most RECO measures, such as attic insulation, heater duct insulation, hot water pipe insulation, fire place dampers or doors, and exterior door weatherstripping, will not be affected by remodeling projects, unless you are removing your roof to add a second story, or eliminating the fireplace, or re-routing your plumbing and ductwork.  A kitchen or bathroom remodel generally won't impede RECO measures (remember that any new showerhead or aerators must also comply with RECO, so check before you buy.)

If you are planning a remodeling project will affect RECO measures, you may file for an extension with the Building & Safety Division (2118 Milvia St, Berkeley, CA 94704), and have the RECO measures added to the scope of work for your project.  City Building Inspectors will then inspect to see that all RECO measures are included as they do their regular inspections. See the RECO link above for details.

Q. I want to upgrade my windows, furnace and hot water heater as part of my RECO work.  Will these kinds of expenses qualify towards my Maximum Expenditure Allowance?
A. No.  Since RECO does not require homeowners to replace these expensive items, we cannot count them towards the measures that are still required.  However, newer water heaters that have insulation of R-12 or higher are exempt from the water heater blanket requirement.

Q. Can you help me find a contractor to do RECO or other work on my house?
A. No.  As the department charged with overseeing RECO, it would be a conflict of interest for us to recommend one contractor over another.  We recommend that you use the yellow pages, word-of-mouth, and get at least two quotes for any work you need done.  We strongly recommend that you follow up and check references prior to having work done.  You may also want to contact the Contractors' State Licensing Board to see if there are any outstanding complaints against contractors you are interested in using.  They also have an excellent publication, "What You Should Know Before Hiring A Contractor," available in PDF form on the website.

For sale or transfer of property, Community Energy Services Corporation non-profit performs RECO inspections for the City of Berkeley and maintains a list of local contractors. You may contact them weekdays 9 am -- 5 pm at 981-9819 or visit the CESC website.

Q. My newly purchased house needs some seismic upgrades, including a new foundation.  Is there any assistance for this?
A.  Currently there is a Seismic Transfer Tax Rebate available for qualifying work done within one year of date of recording the sale.  It allows specific work done as part of seismic improvements to be partially rebated, as part of Berkeley's commitment to community safety. See the link above for guidelines.

Q. I've just found out that I need to have my knob & tube wiring replaced before the contractor can install attic insulation. Getting the wiring done will also take longer than my one-year deadline. What should I do? 
A.  You can apply for a three-month extension from the City's Building Official.  Send a letter requesting an extension to:

                       City of Berkeley/Building & Safety Division
                       2118 Milvia St.
                       Berkeley, CA  94704
                       Attn:  Building Official

You should notify your homeowner's insurance company that you are having your wiring upgraded, as it may also qualify you for a decrease in your insurance rates.  If you replace your older plumbing as well, it may further count towards a decrease in your insurance, since your risk of flooding will be lowered.