As an architect who had the opportunity to work in Germany for seven years and an equal amount of time in Southern California, I can only concur with your report (June 5),"West Germans Do It All by the Book." However, may I point out that here similar rules and regulations exist. The uniform building code, for example, will tell you the maximum and minimum rise and run of the stairs. The electrical code will spell out the minimum amount of wall plugs per wall and what the maximum spacing shall be. There are also the mechanical and plumbing codes to contend with.
If that is not enough consider all the other laws, rules, and regulations by: the local building department with its zoning and planning departments, grading, engineering, and environmental division; hillside ordinances; art jury; review boards; advisory committees; Port District; City Council; Fire Department; Coastal Commission; Energy Commission; Water Quality Board; Air Quality Control Board; Environmental Protection Agency; Federal Aviation Administration; industrial waste; HUD; USDA; BOCA; OSHA; etc. etc. etc.
Enforcement? A planning commissioner pondered this question aloud recently at a Planning Commission meeting in a South Bay community before casting a vote on a particular item on the agenda. Exclaimed a proud staff member: "Our ever so vigilant environmental division will see to that."
May I respectfully submit that in housing construction, the maze of laws and rules here are equally as intricate and often petty as they are in Germany, if not worse.