PCD Celebrates Building Safety Month

Construction professionals and homeowners: Partners in safety

Whether you are going through a minor remodeling job or major construction, the code official wants your project to be a success. Building safety professionals play a major role in keeping the public safe. They can also help avoid potential problems that could put you at risk and cost you time and money.

Before you begin any work that involves construction, visit your local building department. They will explain the process, which may include getting a building permit, plan review and inspection. This  is also an opportunity to discuss incorporating mitigation measures to further protect your home from natural hazards. The process is designed to protect the home or building owner and the occupants.

Code officials ensure that all buildings, including homes, businesses and places of public assembly are built to required building safety codes, which address structural stability, fire safety, exits, sanitation, electricity, energy efficiency, flood protection and more. These building safety professionals are responsible for protecting public health, safety and welfare through effective code enforcement.


What are Building Codes?

 Building codes and regulations have protected the public for thousands of years. The earliest known code of law—the Code of Hammurabi, king of the Babylonian Empire, written circa 2200 B.C.—assessed severe penalties, including death, if a building was not constructed safely. Regulation of building construction in the United States dates back to the 1700s. In the late 1800s major cities began to adopt and enforce building codes in response to large fires in densely populated urban areas. The primary intent of early building codes was to reduce fire risk, but over time, their scope has broadened. Today, building codes are sets of regulations that address structural integrity, fire resistance, safe exits, lighting, ventilation, construction materials, and flood, wind, and earthquake protection. They specify the minimum requirements to safeguard the health, safety and general welfare of building occupants.

To learn more about building codes, check out the Code Council's Introduction to Building Codes. 

The International Codes (I-Codes), developed by the International Code Council, are a family of fifteen coordinated, modern building safety codes used in all 50 U.S. states and in many other countries that protect against disasters like fires, flood and other weather-related events and structural collapse. Only 31 percent of hazard-prone jurisdictions adopt what FEMA deems a hazard-resistant building code.

Documents summarizing the hazard-resistant provisions of the I-Codes are available at FEMA’s Building Code Resources page. This page also includes other guidance documents on codes and standards.

Communities across the globe have differing levels of codes and standards coverage. Codes build confidence. Does your community have the latest codes? Find your community on our list of I-Codes adoptions, or check with your code officials and legislators to see what the situation is in your area.

Public safety is not the only byproduct afforded by modern codes. Architects, engineers, contractors and others in the building community can take advantage of the latest technological advances incorporated in these codes to impart viable savings to the consumer.

The Codes Protect Your Investment

 The biggest investment most people will ever make is when they buy a home. Homes represent security, a place where people will live, raise their families and share their lives with others. Whether you own or rent a home, following the building codes during construction or remodeling can help protect your health and safety as well as your investment.

The building codes include research from experts that help ensure every phase of the construction process adheres to the latest building science and technology standards. In addition to helping make your home safe, the building codes can also help make your home more energy efficient, and conserve water and resources.

If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by your community, the value of your investment could be reduced. Property insurers may not cover work done without permits and inspections or your insurance premiums may become impractical to manage. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or make costly repairs.

A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Having the proper permits allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety and welfare.

By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends or future owners. Plus, you’ll benefit from the best energy efficient construction techniques that will continue to pay you back during the life of your home.

Invest wisely in your home or remodeling project. It’s a smart investment to build and remodel your home to the latest codes.

Alarm Safety Tips

Benefits of Building Permits

How Building Codes Help You

Do I Need a Permit For My Home Project?

Electricity Safety Tips

Exit Safety Tips

Gas Appliance Safety Tips

Mold - Tips on Prevention and Control

Securing clean, abundant water for all communities

Clean water is the world’s most precious commodity. The World Health Organization estimates 844 million people lack basic drinking-water service. Building, plumbing and green codes help guard this precious commodity for future generations through proper construction, conservation and safe disposal.

Code officials are vigilant protectors of our water supply. Because of their dedicated service, you can turn on the tap in your home and draw sufficient, clean water. They take nothing for granted, so you can.

As a homeowner or renter, you need to pay attention to the water supply to your home even if your community offers water and sewage treatment. If there are faulty or no backflow protectors in your home, cross-contamination can happen even while residents are filling their backyard swimming pools, drawing some of the pool’s chlorine into the home.

In Episode Seven of the ICC Pulse Podcast, the Code Council's Senior Director of PMG Resources Lee Clifton speaks with backflow prevention specialist Bruce Rathburn about plumbing cross-connection control programs. Rathburn is the past president of his local chapter of the American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA) and the immediate past president of ABPA International. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Water Efficiency

Water conservation and efficiency has become increasingly important in recent years due to water scarcity, droughts and water contamination in many areas of the world.

In the United States, California droughts fostered water conservation rules, based in part on irrigation standards developed by the International Code Council. Regulations included using drought-tolerant plants on lawns for new homes with more than 500 square feet of landscaped area, and limiting turf grass to 25 percent of landscaping, down from a third.

The Code Council and the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) have partnered on a new water ratings standard, known as HERSH20, that builders can use in the U.S. to evaluate and market a home’s water usage efficiency. Real estate agents are beginning to take notice of the value of such water efficiency ratings, not just in California, but in other areas where potable water may be a concern. HERSH20 guidelines are currently being field tested by various national production builders.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense Program is a major water efficiency initiative based in the U.S. This important initiative was developed to help consumers identify water efficient products that meet EPA’s criteria for efficiency and performance. Since its creation in 2006, WaterSense has conserved more than 2.7 trillion gallons of water and saved American families $63.8 billion in water and energy bills, according to the EPA. WaterSense has also helped reduce the amount of energy needed to heat, pump and treat water by 367 billion kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to a year’s worth of power for more than 34.1 million U.S. homes. ICC Evaluation Service (ICC-ES), a member of the ICC Family of Companies and an industry leader in technical evaluations of building products, is an EPA licensed certifier. To learn more about ICC-ES WaterSense Programs, click here.


Swimming Pool and Backyard Safety

During warm weather seasons, homeowners and renters should take the time to check their outdoor areas for potential safety hazards. Proper inspections now can help to keep your family and friends safe in the future.

Nationally, drowning is a leading cause of death for children under the age of five. Practice constant, adult supervision around any body of water, including pools and spas. And, if you're considering a swimming pool purchase, contact your local Building Department first to determine exactly what permits are needed and what requirements you must follow.

The Code Council supports drowning prevention and has a close partnership with the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).

Pool Safely is a national public education campaign that works with partners around the country, including the Code Council, to reduce child drownings and entrapments in swimming pools and spas. Take the pledge and get a free pool safety kit.

Thinking about a career change?  Why not consider the Code Official field?

The building industry will experience a loss of 80 percent of the existing skilled workforce over a 15 year period, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences in 2014. In fact, the entire building industry, including code officials, is looking at a severe workforce shortage of qualified candidates. This is a tremendous opportunity for job seekers!

Want to know more about what a Code Official does?  Watch this video.17-14675_Safety_2_Infographic

The Code Council has developed Safety 2.0 to welcome a new generation of members and leaders to the building safety profession. Programs include our High School and College Technical Training Programs and our Military Families Career Path Program — which promotes building safety careers for military personnel after service. If you’re a student or professional looking for a new career, check out the Building Safety Career Path.19-17151_2019_BSM_Digital_Cards_WEEK2_WAD_v6_0001_2_edited

See the pathway to a Code Official career change here.

During the month of May, Planning and Community Development is participating in the 39th annual Building Safety Month, a worldwide campaign to promote building safety presented by the International Code Council, its members and partners. First observed in 1980, Building Safety Month raises awareness about critical safety issues from structural, fire prevention, plumbing and mechanical systems through sustainable construction practices and energy efficiency.

Building codes and the inspectors, plans examiners, code enforcement officers, engineers, planners and permit specialists who enforce them make our families and communities safer and more resilient. Homes and buildings built in compliance with building safety codes result in structures that minimize the risks of death, injury and property damage. In the wake of a disastrous hurricane season, rampant wildfires and devastating earthquakes, building safety is even more important as we discover what can happen when building codes are not enforced. Building safety affects everyone and modern, updated building codes save lives.

This year’s themes are:

Our celebration includes informational handouts related to the safety theme each week, a Building Safety fun kit for the kids and a special event later in the month for our employees and customers.  

“When building safety and fire prevention experts inspect buildings and review construction plans to ensure code compliance, they help ensure the places you live, work and play are safe,” says Todd Cunningham, Bainbridge Island’s Building Official. “We work closely with homebuilders, contractors and other fire, health and safety professionals and construction industry tradespersons to provide for the public safety of our visitors, citizens and overall community.”

As you walk around Bainbridge Island, you can rest assured the City has invested in your safety.  Please join us in recognizing this most important month of building safety.  

Fun Fact:

Building and Safety Codes have been in the world for a very long time. The earliest known construction code is the Code of Hammurabi, King of the Babylonian Empire, written circa 1772 B.C. The regulation of building construction in the United States dates to the 1700s. In the early-1900s, the insurance industry and others with similar concerns developed the first model building code. Today, international codes developed by the International Code Council and adopted by the State of Washington and our local community leaders here on Bainbridge Island, are the most widely used and adopted set of building safety codes in the U.S. and around the world.

Effective October 1, 2018

The following permits may be applied for online:

An appointment may be scheduled for all other building and land use permits. Scheduled submittal appointments will take priority over walk-in submittals.

Appointments may be made:

Thank you for your patience as we transition to this new process to improve our services.  Sign up with the City’s Notify Me® for future building notifications.

The Building Division's aim is to safeguard the public health, safety, and general welfare through structural strength, means of egress facilities, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, energy conservation, and safety to life and property from fire and other hazards attributed to the built environment and to provide safety to fire fighters and emergency responders during emergency operations.

Commitment to Customer Service

The City of Bainbridge Island Building Division strives to provide excellent customer service and to assist our customers throughout the building permit processes.

Please take a moment to complete our customer service survey and let us know if we were able to meet your needs in a professional and helpful manner.

Customer Service Survey

Customer Service Photo

Adopted Codes

Please note that both the 2015 Building Code (PDF) and the 2015 Fire Code (PDF) are effective July 1, 2016. The complete list of adopted codes are:

  • 2015 International Building Code (IBC)
  • 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC)
  • 2012 International Fire Code (IFC)
  • 2015 International Fuel and Gas Code (IFGC)
  • 2015 International Mechanical Code (IMC)
  • 2015 International Residential Code (IRC)
  • 2015 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC)

Permit Status Requests

Interested in the status of your permit? To obtain information on your permit review status please send an email to our technician or check the online permit center. Please remember to include the permit number, your name, and the best way to contact you.

Monthly & Annual Reports

Most Recent Report (PDF) | View All Reports

Building Safety Month
Building Safety Month Proclamation