Compliance with Condo Act Renovation Requirements by Apartments and Conversions

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In years past, the construction industry saw a wave of lawsuits arising out of water intrusion damage to condominiums resulting from improperly designed or constructed siding systems.  In response, the Washington legislature imposed a number of testing and inspection requirements affecting “multiunit residential buildings.”  

 Photo (c) Thomas Hawk.  Some Rights Reserved.

The testing and inspection requirements are triggered when applying for a building permit for new construction, or a permit for exterior renovation of a building enclosure if the cost of that work is more than five percent of the assessed value of the building.  The applicant must submit design documents, including subsequent changes, signed by the architect or engineer, to the building department.  An inspection of the enclosure during construction is required, and a certificate of occupancy will not be issued until the inspection is complete, and the inspector has issued a letter stating that the building enclosure has passed inspection.


These requirements apply to not only condominiums, but to any “multiunit residential building” as defined under the act.  Notably, this may include apartment buildings where there is no recorded covenant prohibiting the sale of individual units as part of a condominium for at least five years. 


Where the building is not inspected – which may occur where inspection provisions did not apply to the building at the time of construction or renovation because the building was an excluded apartment with a recorded sale prohibition covenant – then the building must undergo intrusive testing prior to the sale of the first unit of a condominium conversion project. 


As a result, apartment owners considering exterior renovation, or new apartment construction, should consider complying with the testing and inspection requirements of the Condominium Act at the time of construction or renovation, even if the buildings are presently exempt.  In this way, the owner can more easily conduct a conversion in the future without having to re-open the building’s exterior to fulfill the Act’s intrusive testing and inspection requirements.  Owners should consult legal counsel to ensure compliance with the Act.


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Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer
Great post.  While laws vary state to state, I am very interested in construction defect litigation.  Your perspective is interesting.
Jan 09, 2007 04:54 AM #1
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate
Thanks for this post.  We're presently working with a client who's interested in aquiring an apartment building, so this post is great for us.  Thanks!
Jan 09, 2007 05:55 AM #2
Devon Thurtle
Heffernan Law Firm - Kirkland, WA
Glad to hear it could be of help!  Note that this post is specific to the Washington condominium act, so the law is likely different in your area.
Jan 09, 2007 06:03 AM #3
Imants Holmquist
Holmquist & Gardiner, PLLC - Seattle, WA

I just wish the permit issuers would check for the BEDDs before issuing the building permit. This is going to start snag developers before they have a chance to talk to me. Then they show up in my office, ready to do a conversion or new construction condo, and I have to tell them they are not in compliance, and cannot be in compliance without ripping everything down and starting from scratch, which obviously they will not do. 

I am not a fan. If it is that important, the building permit should not be issued without it. 

May 04, 2007 06:26 AM #4
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