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Construction Codes in Washington

Construction Codes in WashingtonIndividuals and companies require complying with the different Washington building codes as it these building codes describe different scientific as well as safety standards for building structures and analyze the specifications for construction practices, fire safety, disaster mitigation, electrical systems, plumbing fixtures, etc. It is compulsory that contractors and builders be fully informed about important developments and modifications in codes and regulations.


Washington has adopted a statewide building code, State Building Code (SBC). The SBC is incorporated in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) in several chapters. Washington updates its codes every three years. The adoption of the 2009 International Building, Residential, Mechanical and Fire Codes and the 2009 Uniform Plumbing Code, with state amendments, were effective from 2010, along with amendments to the Washington State Energy Code. The various code type and their code model are given below:


Code Type Code Model
Building/Dwelling Code IBC 2009 (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-50)

IRC 2009 (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-51)
Structural Code IBC 2009 (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-50)
Plumbing Code UPC 2009 (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-56 and 51-57)
Mechanical Code IMC 2009 (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-52)
Electrical Code NEC 2006 [Laws, Rules & Reg. For Installing El. Wires & Equip. (WAC) 296-46b]
Fire/Life Safety Code IFC 2009 (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-54
Accessibility Code ADAAG (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-40)
Energy Code 2009 Washington State Energy Code (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-11)
Elevator Code ASME A17.1-2004; A17.1a-2005
Gas Code IMC 2009 (NFPA 58 & 54) (State Building Code, WAC Chapter 51-42)
Boiler Code ASME Boiler & Pressure Vessel Code 2007; NBIC 2007 with addenda
Other Codes Ventilation and IAQ Code (State Building Code, WAC Ch. 51-13)


Washington State statutes all local jurisdictions including cities and counties, to require a building permit for any structural change or when alterations are made to an existing building or when any new construction is taken on. It is also possible that separate permits for plumbing, mechanical and electrical work can be required whenever applicable. The State Building Code Council (SBCC) advises the Legislature on building code issues and develops the building codes used in Washington State. These codes ensure the safety for building occupants, accessible to persons with disabilities and the elderly, and energy efficiency of buildings and facilities constructed in the state of Washington.


The State Building Codes contains the codes and regulations defining the requirements for proper building code and permit administration. The legislature has created the State Building Council which is a state agency and provides independent analysis and objective advice on state building code issues to the legislature and the Governor's Office. The Council establishes the minimum building, mechanical, fire, plumbing and energy code requirements necessary to promote the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state of Washington, by reviewing, developing and adopting the state building code.


The Permitting Department uses the 2009 International Building Codes which became effective in Washington State on July 1, 2010. This code family consists of the International Building Code (IBC), the International Residential Code (IRC), the International Mechanical Code (IMC), the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Property Maintenance Code (IPMC). The 2009 Washington State Energy Code became effective January 1, 2011.


King County's amendments to the codes are included in the King County Code, besides the amendments to the IBC, IRC, IMC and IFC will be available as insert pages from the Permitting Department DDES cashier's office. The Washington State Building Code Council also has information about the adoption of codes and the Washington State Amendments.


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