Every state has different building codes and environmental regulations that must be considered when building a new home. Failure to understand and follow these regulations can result in major construction delays, penalties, and higher costs as the construction timeline stretches. Fortunately, you can avoid these problems by working with an experienced builder that has navigated the Washington environmental regulations before.
Some of the environmental regulations you should know about before building a home in Washington are:
Local Building Permits
In Washington, building permits are issued at the state or county level, and the requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction. However, all parts of the state are subject to the Growth Management Act, which requires building-permit applicants to provide proof of an adequate supply of potable water. This includes getting:
- A permit from the Department of Ecology
- A letter from an approved provider stating that it is able and willing to provide water
- A local form sufficient to verify the existence of an adequate water supply
In addition to the state water requirements, a local building permit also typically requires the following environmental information:
- Sewage facilities
- Location of wells (if applicable)
- Drainage plan
- Setback of buildings from property lines and drainfield (if applicable)
Construction Stormwater General Permit
The Department of Ecology issues construction stormwater permits for building sites. The intent of this permit is to protect water quality by ensuring that construction-site operators take steps to prevent stormwater from washing soil, nutrients, chemicals, and other pollutants into local water bodies. This permit is required if your site needs clearing, grading, or excavating on one or more acres of land or if you have a smaller site that is part of a larger development. Regardless of the lot size, the Department of Ecology can require a permit if it believes that work on the site might exceed the state’s water quality standards.
Notice of Intent to Construct or Decommission a Well
If you plan to install a well, or if your property has a well that you don’t plan to use, you must notify the Department of Ecology. A notice of intent is required for any type of well activity, including repair or deepening. This regulation also encompasses boring for geothermal heat pumps, so if you plan to use this type of system, make sure you file a notice. Local ordinances may have additional requirements for well construction. If you do decide to drill a well on your land, the state requires the work to be done by a licensed provider in most cases.
On-Site Sewage System Permit
If your property is located in an area that is not connected to public sewage systems, you must get an on-site sewage system permit from the local health jurisdiction or building/planning department. This permit covers both septic systems and subsurface drainfields and applies to installation, modification, and expansion of these systems. All systems must be designed by a licensed designer or engineer.
These are just a few of the many environmental regulations you must be aware of before building a home in Washington. If you want to explore these regulations yourself, check out the Regulatory Handbook. Remember—environmental regulations are just one category to consider. Your new home must also be built according to the state building, fire, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and energy codes.
Adair Homes has been building homes in Washington for more than four decades. Our experience with the state environmental regulations can help you save time and money throughout the site-development and permitting processes to help keep your project on track and within the budget. Our team also closely monitors policy changes so that you don’t have to stay on top of new developments that might affect construction. If you are considering building a home in Washington, contact the experts at Adair Homes today.
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