Code change could lower developers' insurance

Mirror staff

Building owners and developers in Federal Way should see double-digit drops in most of their insurance rates.

The dip is the result of the city being reclassified from a Class IV to a Class II based on effectiveness, administration and enforcement of its building codes.

No Washington city is rated Class I, and only about six are rated Class II, according to officials.

The reclassification is anticipated to lead to a 23 percent drop in earthquake insurance rates and a 10 percent drop in other insurance rates with the exception of fire insurance, officials told the City Council. That drop only applies to new construction.

The Washington State Building Codes Commission recently adopted the International Building Code (IBC), which include the rules and regulations for structural, fire, electrical and other components of commercial and residential developments. The amendment went into effect July 1, though a decision on whether to ban barbecues on apartment balconies as part of the fire code has been postponed until after a public hearing scheduled for Oct. 15.

Federal Way building official Mary Kate Martin said the IBC is “easier to work with, easier to understand.”

Structural and seismic requirements are a little more technical, “but that’s also a result of advances in technology,” she said.

The Master Builders Association supports the change to the new building codes, said Garrett Huffman, the south King County manager for the trade group.

“It’s a much better set of guidelines for building overall,” he said. “They’re simple to understand, simple to implement and easier to go back to for inspections.”

The IBC is the first standardized set of codes to be adopted in several states across the country.

The city put the new codes into effect July 1. Officials said developers here should recognize the new requirements in future construction because for the past three years, the city has offered developers the option of using the IBC.

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