Codes & Regulations
BIAW monitors codes and regulations, provides comments on pending rules and regulations, and provides resources and information to members. Check back for the latest information.
Every three years, the International Code Council (ICC) publishes new model construction codes. The State Building Code Council (SBCC), with the assistance of their Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), adopt those applicable to our state.
*** The SBCC has delayed implementation of the 2021 Residential Code, Energy Code and WUI Code until MARCH 15, 2024 **
Wildland-Urban Interface Code | FAQs
The Legislature directed the Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) to adopt specific portions of the 2018 International Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) code. Instead, the SBCC chose to adopt the entire 2021 WUI code, which will have a significant impact on proposed construction projects—both in actual costs and planning time.
The WUI code is a hybrid between land-use and building codes, designed to protect structures from wildfires by requiring builders to use fire-resistive building materials and to reduce vegetation near all structures.
The SBCC has delayed implementation of all the new codes to MARCH 15, 2024. At that time, the WUI codes will apply to new projects not already vested. Vested projects include those with complete building permit, shot plat or subdivision applications already submitted. They also include projects with certain subdivision approvals and development agreements.
Don’t see your question? Please contact email@example.com or your local building official.
Am I in the WUI?
More than likely, yes. Please refer to the WUI map produced by DNR. Essentially, every color but gray signifies a WUI zone, and thus, the code would apply.
What is defensible space? Is there a minimum setback?
Defensible space requirements in the WUI code requires any vegetation (except those that have fire resistive/suppressive characteristics) be placed 30 feet or further from any structure. This includes any home and appendages (such as a deck or ADU).
Is the WUI being adopted statewide on October 29?
Yes, unless SBCC decides to delay the codes further. We will update this page with any updates.
Is my project required to comply?
- Find your property on the WUI map compiled by the Department of Natural Resources: https://geo.wa.gov/maps/786aaa1dbbd748e6ae04bc43c8f127fe/explore
- If your property falls in a yellow, red, or green zone, you must comply with WUI standards.
- If your property is in a gray zone, you do not have to comply unless required by your local building department.
- That’s it!
What if my project is on a boundary line?
There will be instances in which your property may be on the boundary line between WUI and Non-WUI zones. For how to handle this, or to request a “Finding of Fact” (see below), please contact your local building official. Do you find the map confusing to use? So do we! BIAW will be working on legislation to redo the map in a user-friendly way in 2024.
What’s subject to the WUI?
The WUI affects many areas of home building, including:
- Exterior walls and doors
- Decks and appendages
- Windows and openings
Approaching these with care will help you comply. While Washington state does not have an approved WUI material list, the California’s Office of the State Fire Marshal has compiled a great resource available at https://osfm.fire.ca.gov/divisions/fire-engineering-and-investigations/building-materials-listing/
For landscaping, please see the guide for Fire-Resistant Plants, available at https://www.dnr.wa.gov/firewise
What’s a Finding of Fact? Why Would I Need One?
If you contest the WUI zone you’re placed in, you can appeal the WUI designation through your local building department through a “Finding of Fact.” This basically allows you to do a site-specific analysis of the volume and proximity to surrounding structures and vegetation. While the SBCC has adopted a worksheet to help local jurisdictions with this process, it’s always advised to contact your local building official for further direction.
If you have any questions regarding building codes or worker and safety regulations, or for questions on stormwater and environmental regulations, please contact Legislative Director Josie Cummings or (360) 352-7800 ext. 163.