SDCI has a new policy calculating the number of stories for townhouses. A building’s “story count” is based on the calculated Grade Plane. Since adopting the first Seattle Residential Code (SRC) in 2004, SDCI’s policy has been that a series of attached townhouses can have only one grade plane. This has meant that when a series of townhouses steps up a hill it can become a four-story structure (in code terms), even though each individual unit only has three stories.
Very recently SDCI has changed this policy, making it easier for townhouses that step up a hill to comply with the SRC rather than having to comply with the Seattle Building Code. SDCI will now permit SRC townhouses to be considered separate buildings and each can have its own separate grade plane. For the structural design, the entire building can still be treated as a single structure (per the structural independence provisions and exceptions in R302.2.4).
This significant change is effectively immediately. If you have a townhouse project currently under review, please call your Ordinance/Structural reviewer if you have questions about how your project may be affected. For more general questions about the new policy, please contact: