Latest News

BIAW’s Advocacy Team: Building communities, protecting your future

June 1, 2023

As one of the largest home-building associations in America, BIAW focuses on building communities, protecting our future. The association champions the rights of its members and fights for affordable homeownership at all levels of government. We give a voice to thousands of builders, remodelers, skilled trades professionals and their associates who help Washington families enjoy the American dream of owning a home.

Success in the State Legislature

The Building Industry Association of Washington partners with BIAW members to protect and promote homeownership for Washington families. During the 2023 legislative session, the government affairs, legal and communications teams worked together with members to help pass pro-housing and pro-business legislation and defeat efforts that threatened to drive up the costs of buying or remodeling a home. Learn how these efforts save builders and future homeowners valuable dollars into the future!

Significant permit reform

BIAW successfully passed legislation exempting most interior remodels from time-consuming site plan reviews and significantly reformed the local permitting requirements to speed permitting, promote best practices and add new accountability measures.

Economic impact: The average permit delay of 6.5 months adds more than $31,000 to the price of a new home in Washington.

Flexible zoning (middle housing and ADUs)

  • Middle housing legislation supported by BIAW allows property owners more flexibility on their own land and requires local governments to recognize zero-lot-line sub-division which ensures new housing built under this law can and will be ownership units.
  • BIAW also passed legislation expanding housing options by easing barriers to the construction and use of accessory dwelling units.

Economic impact: Statewide, zoning accounts for an average of $72,524 of the cost of a newly constructed home.

Reducing unnecessary regulatory hurdles

Economic impacts: Hidden costs like these add an average of 23.8% to the final price of new single-family homes and 40.% to the final cost of multi-family structures.

Expanding access to condominiums as a homeownership option

Economic impacts: In some areas of the state, the first measure is estimated to reduce the cost of a condominium by up to $150,000, clearing significant barriers for many first-time homeowners.

Painting pathways to the trades

As part of its workforce development work, BIAW joined forces with trades educators across the state to support new performance-based pathways to graduation for students and ensure students and parents are aware of these options.

Economic impacts:  The Home Builders Institute (HBI) estimates the nation needs 740,000 new construction workers a year to keep pace with demand. In Washington, taxpayers receive $9 for every $1 spent on trades education.

Preserving energy choice

BIAW and others blocked a bill eventually eliminating natural gas in Puget Sound Energy’s service area. It would have raised the price of new construction, robbing consumers of energy choice and increasing utility costs for all.

Economic impacts: Prohibiting natural gas for new housing will increase the cost of middle housing construction by between $6,200 to $13,100 more per unit. This doesn’t include the annual operating costs of using natural gas, which is one third of the cost of electricity.

Avoiding unnecessary taxes

BIAW helped thwart a bill increasing the property tax thresholds at the local level from a 1% cap to a 3% cap.  BIAW, Realtors and others also stopped a statewide and local increase on real estate excise tax.

Economic impacts: If passed, these taxes increases could have tripled Washington’s property tax burden and Washington’s REET would have become the highest in the country.

Reining in labor costs

Thanks to BIAW’s intervention, legislators rejected a new wage replacement program separate from the Employment Security Department and others. The legislature also rejected a costly and burdensome personnel records bill.

Economic impacts: These bills would have increased unemployment insurance premiums and added new legal uncertainty for employers.

Regulatory, legal and building codes wins

All year round, we represent you in state agency rulemaking and before the State Building Code Council, providing your perspectives to decision-makers and keeping you informed of new rules and regulations.

Bringing common sense to the building codes

In a win for the industry, residential home builder representative on the SBCC, Daimon Doyle, was able to negotiate an air leakage rate of 4 CFM instead of the proposed 3 ACH (the current rate is 5 CFM). In addition, we also advocated to remove requirements that air handlers and water heaters be installed within the conditioned space.

The model WUI code mandates use of fire sprinklers and adequate water supply but thanks to BIAW advocacy, these costly provisions won’t be required statewide.

Finally, BIAW’s legal and codes staff worked together administratively and in the courts to secure a 120-day delay in implementation of the state’s new building codes.

Economic impact:  These changes could save homeowners thousands of dollars in added costs to build a home.

Cooling down heat rules

BIAW submitted written comments and in-person testimony to address some of the concerns of the construction industry regarding the new proposed rules. BIAW offered suggestions to help minimize the negative impacts this new rule could have on contractors and their employees – especially those in eastern Washington where heat above 80 degrees is commonplace throughout much of the year.

Economic impact: Arbitrary heat rules would slow progress on building new homes during peak construction months, contributing to the state’s housing shortage and driving up costs.

Creating consistency in wildfire smoke rules

BIAW participated heavily in the rulemaking process, offering comments and suggestions that would help mitigate the impacts on small businesses trying to create affordable housing, including the use of language similar to California’s wildfire smoke rules. Some of BIAW’s comments and suggestions were implemented in the final rule.

Economic impact: Consistency in rule-making helps control costs and saves time, especially for builders who build new homes in multiple states.


Return to blog