News Flash

Planning & Public Works

Posted on: April 3, 2020

Updated guidance for commercial and residential construction inspections

Inspections limited to authorized construction types

Governor Inslee provided further clarification on the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order specific to commercial and residential construction, including inspections.

Construction is only authorized in these circumstances:

  1. Construction related to essential activities as described in the order;
  2. To further a public purpose related to a public or governmental function or facility. Including but not limited to publicly financed low-income housing; or
  3. To prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions, and address emergency repairs at both non-essential businesses and residential structures.

Pierce County will continue to inspect projects that meet the above circumstances only if:

  • Project site protocols meet social distancing and worker protections in accordance with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and;
  • The construction is related to essential activities as described in the order; or
  • Documentation from the Governor’s office is provided that verifies the project meets one of the above circumstances. Learn about how to obtain documentation.

We will also conduct inspections in these cases:

  • Furnace or water heaters in an occupied home with the inspection completed over Skype by the homeowner
  • Skype inspections of homeowner occupied residences—if the inspection is conducted by the homeowner
  • Anything related to an emergency repair like a gas meter replacement or emergency repair of roof/ walls, or side sewer of an occupied structure (Commercial or residential)

Since the order has been extended until May we have had many questions about spoilage and weatherization of projects that are in process and offer the following guidance:

The Governor has made it very clear that residential construction is not covered under essential activities. We will not be conducting any shear inspections at this time, however house wrap can be applied on the home to protect the exterior sheeting. Later, when the Stay Home, Stay Safe Order is lifted, the house wrap may need to be cut to perform the shear inspection and verify the nailing. THIS IS NOT APPROVAL TO INSTALL SIDING, WINDOWS AND DOORS AT ANY LOCATIONS ON THE HOME.

Public School projects meet circumstance #1 above, and we will continue to offer inspections for schools.

For projects approved by the Governor’s office, County inspectors will communicate with project superintendents and try to cover as much as possible through photos and Skype, Microsoft Teams, or other virtual meeting software. Physical inspections will be conducted for situations where photos or virtual meetings are infeasible or ineffective.

Development Engineering will perform inspections at sites our inspectors believe to be potentially unsafe if left unattended, or which pose a significant hazard of offsite impacts to adjacent properties or downstream drainage features. We may also be able to perform some inspections by Skype for individual homeowners.

This restriction for construction and inspections is to meet the intent of the Governors Executive order, maintain social distancing as prescribed by the CDC for inspectors, the inhabitants of Pierce County, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For the permits that are affected by the restriction, Pierce County will allow extensions and work with contractors to ensure prompt completion once the Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order is lifted.

Please contact Nick Waggood, Assistant Building Official, by email if you have any questions.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and support.

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