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Developers apply for hundreds of building permits in January

FERNDALE, Wash. — The Ferndale City Council at their regular meeting on February 1st approved updating the City Municipal Code to (as has been done every few years) be aligned with the 2018 versions of the International Building Code, Uniform Plumbing Code and Washington State Energy Code and amendments to the Washington State Building Code. The change was set to automatically take effect in the City of Ferndale on February 1, 2021, per existing City of Ferndale code.

According to building experts, new energy conservation requirements in the code changes resulted in substantial increases in the cost of new construction. As a result, many developers raced to ensure their building applications were submitted by the end of January.

City staff received a total of 222 permit applications in January of this year. In past years, it was normal to receive between 20 and 65 applications in January according to the City’s online permit portal.

The following table breaks down the new building applications received and compares with the total received during all of 2020.

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New Building Permit TypeApplications submitted in January Applications submitted in 2020
Single-family residence105156
Town house3810
Commercial building312
Multi-family residential building181
Source: City of Ferndale Online Permit Center

Developers interviewed said they were most concerned about an increase in energy efficiency requirements for all new construction under the new codes. Projects are measured by the number of energy credits achieved by incorporating energy-saving elements in the building design. Insulation, plumbing, windows and high-efficiency heating, ventilation, air-conditioning equipment are some of the areas that can be improved in order to qualify for credits.

Fewer credits were required under the previous code than are under the new code as indicated in the table below.

Building sizeEnergy credits required in 2015 codeEnergy credits required in recently adopted 2018 code
Less than 1500 square feet1.53.0
Between 1500 and 5000 square feet3.56.0
Exceeding 5000 square feet4.57.0

It is estimated that this increase in credit requirements will be reflected in an increase of 10s of thousands of dollars in construction costs.

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