Padden bill to remove barriers to condo construction passes Senate

Today the Senate passed Sen. Mike Padden’s measure to help increase the supply of affordable housing by removing barriers to condominium construction.

“I am pleased to see such broad bipartisan support for this common-sense measure,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “At a time when many areas of the state are desperate for affordable housing – and especially single-family units – this bill will allow for more affordable construction and greater access to financing of smaller condo projects.

“This is a great thing for both homebuilders and those looking for more affordable homeownership.”

Under Senate Bill 5024, which cleared the chamber by a vote of 37-12, condominiums with 10 or fewer units and with no more than two stories would be exempt from the costly requirement to submit building-enclosure design documents and obtain periodic inspections throughout the course of construction.

If the bill becomes law, it would also allow funds deposited for the purchase of a unit to be used for construction costs, under certain conditions.

“Right now, unnecessarily and duplicative inspection requirements can add as much as 200,000 dollars more to the cost of a condominium construction, above the costs for an identical unit that happens to be a townhome,” Padden explained. “Why? We’ve seen no big differences in the problems between condominiums and townhouses – especially not in condos of the size we are talking about in this bill.”

Padden’s measure is the result of years of work, which originated with a 2018 work session held by the committee to address the state’s inadequate supply of new condominiums. Since that time, the problems of affordable housing, homelessness, and a lack of new construction have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s important to remember that Senate Bill 5024 maintains all of the same consumer protections we have currently, including a warranty at the end of the process,” Padden added. “Accountability for the builders is still there; this bill just streamlines the process and opens up more affordable housing for Washington’s middle class.”

The bill now moves to the House for that chamber’s consideration.