Home Selling in 30345>Question Details

Jim, Both Buyer and Seller in Atlanta, GA

Dekalb plumbing ordenance

Asked by Jim, Atlanta, GA Thu May 22, 2008

We are selling our home in a few weeks, and just found out about a new law that goes into effect in Dekalb county on June 1st. Basicly, the new buyer will not be able to have the water turned on without a signed statement from a plumber stating that ALL fixtures in the house are low flow. (This effects all homes built before 1993.)

-So first, I wanted to make you aware of it.

Second, It looks like neither realtor knew about this. We now have a signed contract and are past the due dilagence period. I beleive this means the buyer is responsible for the costs. However, I am staying in the neighborhood, and want to do what is right. If this ends up costing $1000 plus, what should I do?

Help the community by answering this question:


Jim...good news about your plumbing fixtures.

To answer your question regarding responsibility. Sellers should disclose if their fixtures have been replaced or not. If Sellers have not replaced their fixtures, then Buyers should be advised to consider this as a part of their negotiation for the home.

It is recommended that the agents have both Buyers and Sellers sign the new ordinance, indicating that the agents have made both parties aware of this change in Dekalb County.

From my understanding it can't hold up a closing....it would just mean that one party is stuck paying the bill. So either the seller makes the repairs prior to sale or they disclose this and the buyer factors this in when making an offer.
Web Reference: http://www.rkihomes.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri May 23, 2008
I think you should talk to a plumber and find out exactly what this will mean for the new owners. Once you get a professional opinion you should be able to assess how much you want to help for the misunderstanding. If you want to be helpful you could even help the new owners find a good plumber. If their new to the area they probably don't know of one.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 5, 2014
I am not sure that you have a choice. You have to tell the buyers that your plumbing is not up to code. Their inspection will most likely catch it anyways. You might want to fix it so that it can't be used as a bargaining chip.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 27, 2014
Still an issue almost two years after this question was originally asked.

Go to my blog for a detailed look at how much the low flow ordinance changes will cost and how the process works.


Sellers are generally expected to pay the changeover costs in todays market.

The Metro Atlanta Housing Market is stuck in a low gear so you would think our local government would want to kick start some activity. This is apparently not the case in DeKalb County Georgia where our wise and learned County Commission imposed draconian rules on new water hookups.

Any home built before 1993 must comply with new legislation htp://www.dekalbwatershed.com/PDF/plumbingFixturesReplacement.pdf

that makes it impossible for home buyers to get water service unless they have new low flow toilets, water saver faucets and shower heads.

HOMES BUILT BEFORE 1993 averaging $500 to $700 Costs to Comply

Seller's of homes built before 1993 must comply with this new rule at a time when they are already getting hammered by a "buyer's market" that has them paying closing costs, doing minor and major repairs to their homes and taking a beating on the selling price of their home.


Lowes will provide a low flow toilet for around $149 and install it for $114 (there is a $50 to $100 rebate from DeKalb County available for each toilet replacements).
However, add to these costs:

1. A low flow faucet is either $30.00 for a 4 inch spread or $120 for an 8 inch spread.

2. Low flow shower heads cost of $20 or so each.

3. Licensed Plumbers charge of $250 to $500 to install and certify these fixtures and the toilets.

The really sad thing is, these are not high quality plumbing fixtures and I suspect most will be replaced within the first year of ownership.


DeKalb County homeowners with just slapped with a $700 to $1,000 devaluation of the value of their homes. Timing could not have been worse as we are also dealing with negative pressures from foreclosures and a sagging National economy.


In this market you can guess who is footing the bill. I don't blame the buyers as the adjoining municipalities do not have similar requirements. Buyers are just evening up the playing field.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 10, 2010
Please find all the details on the ordinance here http://activerain.com/blogs/andreac811

It also includes a link to ecoTransitions, a supplier of High Efficieny Dual flush toilets that qualify for the $100 rebate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jun 28, 2008
According to the information given to me by my Dad who lives in DeKalb County, it is the BUYER'S responsibility to have the fixtures replaced to low-flow. NOT the Seller. Hope this helps, but you can always call the County Zoning and Ordinance Office and ask them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 23, 2008
Foreclosures are exempt - can you believe it?
I am finding not all agents are aware of this. There is now a separate disclosure form to fill out with your contract too.

Do you know if any of your fixtures as low flow? You could purchase and install aerators for the sinks and low flow shower heads since you want to "do the right thing". You can purchase low flow toilets for about $150+ and we have a list where there are rebates. I think a plumber charges about $150/toilet for installation,

I would be cautious about changing fixtures, as buyers will then want to select the fixtures for aesthetics. Perhaps you can inform the buyers and have them purchase the toilets and you pay for or split the cost of installation. Since you are past due diligence however, it is not your responsibility. However, one could argue you did not disclose an adverse condition, so I would suggest treading lightly.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 13, 2008
The Realtor on both sides of this sale should have been aware of the city codes pertaining to the fixtures in the home being of the low flow type. If this were me being in your position i would try and get the realtor's on both sides of this sale to split the cost of getting a plumber and certifying that the fixtures in the house are low flow. The realtor's should deduct this cost from their commission that their charging you for the sale of your home.Why should you have to pay out of pocket money for something that they should have been aware of in the first place. It's their mistake not yours.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 31, 2008
Does anyone know what happens when a condo is sold after tomorrow, and the water and sewer is included in the condo fee. My seller does not pay the water directly and thus cannot have it turned off or on directly either. Is this a loophole in the law?

Ed Francell
Prudential Georgia Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 31, 2008
The previous posts answer questions about the basic requirements of the oridinance. As a home inpector and repair specialist I have observed additional considerations that may affect the the costs of the change-out.

1. The "footprint" of the new fixture often does not match the existing which may require repair or replacement of finish flooring (i.e. tile, vinyl, laminate, etc.).
2. The new tank may be smaller than the orginal. This may expose wall conditions that may have to be painted, papered, patched or otherwise re-finished.
3. Removal of the toilet may reveal hidden damage to the sub-floor or even the supporting structure which should also be repaired.
4. Handling older fixtures may result in collateral damage that can also add to the costs of the project.

Repair of these items may require the services of more than one tradesman and coordination of access times.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat May 31, 2008
Well, in this case, it does not look like it will be an issue. All of the fixtures were replaced about 8 years ago, and seem to meet the criteria. I have a plumber who is doing other work for me on my new house, he has agreed to verify this home and sign the forms.

But:.... I am still not clear who would be legally esponsible. What if the house was not up to standards, and the seller decided not to do anything. What happens? From what I read, the seller needs to provide the documentation to the water department. Is there anything in the law that states the home closing could not happen? (-As I have stated, we are staying in the neighborhood, and this has been a very fair, win/win transation, so I would not have done this. But it got me thinking.)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 23, 2008
I agree with Edward; however, I will add that it is my opinion that both agents involved should have been aware that this new law was coming and it is clear that neither the buyers agent or the listing agent knew. I think it would be fair for all parties to split the cost meaning the listing agent, the buyers agent, the buyer, and the seller split the cost 4 ways. That to me would be a true win/ win!
Web Reference: http://www.HomesByLorie.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
FYI there is a limited time rebate of $50 for toilets with flow of 1.6 gallons and $100 for toilets with flow of 1.26. Use the savings to buy a tank of gas!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Jim - I need not repeat Carl's reply below as it is both accurate and comprehensive. I believe that you understand what needs to be done.

The county could care less who pays for the fixture replacement, as long as it is done. The new Buyer will have to provide the county with a written statement from a licensed inspector or plumber that the new fixtures are installed before the county will turn on the water in the Buyer's name. Thus, it becomes strictly a matter of getting someone to pay for it. I would consider splitting it with the Buyer, if they will agree (get it in writing} or perhaps include the agent(s) in the cost splitting arrangement, since they are the ones who put you into this dilemma, unknowingly.

A new toilet can cost as little as $150, plus installation, so you are looking at maybe $250 per toilet, or $500 if it is a two bedroom home. I am not sure about the other fixtures, shower heads, faucets, but there are the types of things that can be switched out by a non plumber (you, the Buyer, or the agent(s) ).

Bottom line, it needs to be done before closing, if the Buyer is moving in right away, or ASAP after closing if the new owner is renting out the property.m They, or their tenant, will need water as soon as they occupy the house.

Call me for more information if you need it.

Ed Francell
Prudential Georgia Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
Since the new ordinance goes into effect June 1, here at Brian Guffey and Associates Keller Williams we have added this into our special stipulations on our contract. If it is our buyer we ask that the seller make sure they are compliant. If it is our seller, when we take the listing we make them aware of what they need to do to be compliant so if a contract comes in and we already have our certificate of compliance it puts us in a stronger position. Unfortunately since your agent did not know, it comes down to doing the right thing morally. In your position, If I were your agent I would reccommend that you do what is necessary to come under compliance. If possible maybe you could get your agent to reduce the commission by the amount it will cost you. I think you will sleep better at night knowing you did the right thing. If you would like to more information and the necessary forms I have placed a link below. Please tell your friends and family how important it is to have an informed real estate agent. Good Luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008

I outlined the new "Dekalb County Plumbing Retrofit Law" in detail for others below.

To answer your question, it would probably be best to consult with your agent as they are most familiar with the negotiation process and your specific situation. Another though would be to leave the water in your name until such replacements take place...that'd be a nice gesture. If you're house isn't "pre-1993" you might not need to worry. My best advice would be to consult with your agent. I'm rehabbing my first home, a 20 year old house in Fulton County...if you have nice stuff send it my way! I'm all about conserving water, but unfortunately I have what my grandfather calls, "Champagne taste, but a beer wallet"!

Any home built prior to 1993 must have low flow toilet and plumbing fixture installed before the new homeowner can obtain water from the county.

Effective June 1, 2008, sellers will be required to disclose the Dekalb County Ordinance when selling their homes. Before the new homeowner can obtain water service, they must provide written proof from a home inspector, licensed plumber, or a Department of Watershed Inspector. This certificate will be required with their application for water service.

Effective January 1, 2009, the same will apply to commerical properties & apartments.

Single family homes and condos will need to have the following:
1. Toilets can have a max of 1.6 gallons per flush
2. Shower heads can put out a max of 2.5 gallons per minute
3. Lavatory faucets can put out a max of 2 gallons per minute
4. Kitchen faucets can put out a max of 2.2 gallons per minute

Four Specific Exemptions to the new law:
1. Homes sold via Foreclosure
2. Homes sold to Family members, specifically spouse-to-spouse and parents-to-children
3. Homes that will be demolished after the sale
4. Circumstances where the cost of the toilet will be over $1,000.00 per toilet change out

Penalties for violating these new laws in DeKalb County:
1. First violation will be a warning
2. Second violation (within 12 months of first violation) will be $250.00
3. Third violation (within 12 months of first violation) will be $500
Web Reference: http://www.rkihomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
It's pitiful that neither agent knew about this -- the information has been widely disseminated by the DeKalb and Georgia Associations of Realtors -- not to mention that it was in the news for months during the process of adopting the ordinance. Will your buyers be closing before June 1st? If they're in the house before then, they can still get the water turned on without the certification.

You haven't done anything wrong. This is a very new ordinance and your buyer had as much opportunity to find out about it as you had. The fact that no one in the transaction was aware of the new requirement doesn't mean anyone was trying to get by with something. If you want to "do the right thing" why not offer to throw in half the cost of the retrofit up to a reasonable amount (after all, you have no control over what fixtures the buyer may choose). Alternatively, if the buyers need to have the work done before they move in, you could offer to pay for the plumber to install the new fixtures if they pay for the actual fixtures -- that way they get the fixtures they want and get the work done before they move in and you only have to pay for the plumber.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 22, 2008
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