2015 Codes: Vesting FAQs

Are you concerned about whether your permit application will be accepted before the change to the 2015 Seattle codes? Here are some FAQs to help you understand the steps you need to take.

When an I required to compliance with the 2015 codes?
January 1, 2017 is when compliance with the 2015 Seattle codes become mandatory.  Between November 6, 2016 and January 1, 2017, you may choose to use the 2012 or the 2015 codes. You must make your choice clear on the plans you submit. If you choose to comply with the 2015 code, the full suite of applicable 2015 codes will apply to your project.  (You can’t choose the 2015 Seattle Building Code (SBC) and the 2012 Seattle Energy Code (SEC), for example).

How do I get my project vested to the 2012 codes?
You need to successfully complete the intake process and pay the intake fees before close of business on Friday December 30, 2016.  (SBC 101.3.1)

What if the first available intake appointment is in 2017, but I want my project to be vested to the 2012 codes?
Schedule the first available appointment and upload your completed drawings and documents as soon as you can. After you press “SUBMIT TO SDCI,” we will do our best to move your appointment up to a cancellation or an added appointment in this year.  We will assume that you want your project vested to the 2012 codes, if it is submitted before mid-December.

I’m working on a phased project. Which phase vests a project to the 2012 codes?
You need to successfully submit the “complete structural frame” for the entire building in order to vest the building to the 2012 code. (SBC 101.3.1 Exception)

To what code is an initial tenant improvement project usually vested?
Initial tenant improvement projects are vested to the code that applied to the “shell and core” construction permit. To vest, you must submit the initial tenant improvement application no more than 18 months after the date of the final inspection for the shell and core construction. (SBC 101.3.2)

Will changes in the 2015 Seattle Existing Building Code requirements for Substantial Alteration projects affect my project requirements?
Substantial Alteration projects (except for those that are deemed a Substantial Alteration solely because they were changed to a higher hazard occupancy) are required to improve the energy performance of the building envelope (2012 Seattle Existing Building Code (SEBC) 303.1.4; 2015 SEBC 304.1.4). In the 2015 Seattle Energy Code, there is now a “disproportionality exception” that has a cost cap on the required building envelop improvements, of 20% of the project valuation, when using the Thermal Performance Method (2015 SEC C503.8.3).

When can I buy copies of the new codes?
We are working on getting the hard-copy of codes published and don’t have a date yet.  The new codes will likely be available in late December or January.  In the meantime, you have access to the Seattle amendments to the ICC codes on our website.  For the SBC go to our Building Code web page. For other Seattle codes, see our list of codes we enforce.

Which codes are changing?
The 2015 versions of Seattle’s Building, Residential, Existing Building, Energy, Mechanical, Plumbing, Fuel Gas, and Fire Codes have been adopted. The 2005 Boiler Code is currently being updated and amended, but adoption is probably several months away.

Questions? Please contact Steve Burns steve.burns@seattle.gov or Andy Lunde andrew.lunde@seattle.gov.

2015 Code Adoption Update

For the past several months, we have been preparing to adopt the 2015 Seattle codes, including the Building, Residential, Mechanical, and Energy Conservation codes. While we don’t know what the legislative schedule will be, we are expecting to require compliance with the 2015 codes on January 1, 2017.

If we stay on schedule, we will allow complete building permit applications submitted before January 1 to comply with the 2012 codes.  We will require applications submitted after January 1 to comply with the 2015 codes. To be considered under the 2012 codes, your complete, submitted permit application must include all required application materials.  If you have a phased project, your application must include the materials for at least the structural frame; shoring and architectural drawings will not be sufficient.

If you have questions about the legislative schedule, contact Kathleen Petrie at kathleen.petrie@seattle.gov.

For questions about which codes apply to your project, contact Steve Burns at steve.burns@seattle.gov.

2015 Seattle Energy Code Development

Seattle DCI will hold a couple of public meetings during in February to review proposed changes to the “Commercial Buildings” provisions of the 2015 Seattle Energy Code. (The City does not amend the residential portion of the code.)

If you’re interested in attending one of these meetings, please RSVP to duane.jonlin@seattle.gov as space is limited. We’ll email meeting attendees the agenda and proposed code changes before each meeting. The meetings are:

  • Thursday, February 4
    10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 1600
    700 5th
  • Friday, February 12
    10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
    Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 1610
    700 5th


Seattle’s Climate Action Plan requires significant improvements in energy efficiency for both new construction and existing buildings, so ideas for cost-effective code changes that would reduce building energy use are encouraged.

To submit your own code change proposals, or for more information, contact:

Duane Jonlin
Energy Code and Energy Conservation Advisor
Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections
(206) 233-2781

Electrical Alert – Seattle Energy Code Changes!

The 2012 Seattle Energy Code went into effect December 27, 2013. The date of your project’s associated building permit application will determine which version of the energy code applies to your project. If your building permit application is dated before December 27, 2013, we will review your electrical plans under the 2009 Seattle Energy Code. All other electrical plan review submissions must comply with the 2012 Energy Code.

Over-the-counter and online applications submitted on or after April 14 will be inspected for compliance with the 2012 Energy Code.

Incorporating the 2012 code changes into your designs will provide shorter turn-around and project completion time. Codes are available on DPD’s Codes We Enforce web page.