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Where a building or structure has sustained substantial damage or where substantial improvements are proposed and the value of work exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building or structure before the damage or the improvements, the entire building or structure shall be subject to and be brought into compliance with the applicable codes as for new construction.

For applications for reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair, alteration, addition or other improvement of existing buildings or structures located in flood hazard areas, the Building/Fire Official shall determine if the proposed work constitutes substantial improvement or repair of substantial damage. Where the Building/Fire Official determines that the proposed work constitutes substantial improvement or repair of substantial damage, and where required by this code, the Building/Fire Official shall require the building to meet the requirements of International Building Code Section 1612, and, where applicable, other provisions within the Snohomish Municipal Code apply.

Market value may be determined utilizing established Snohomish County Assessor’s Office, tax parcel assessed valuation, or an appraisal conducted on behalf of the applicant by a commercial appraisal service licensed to perform such work, and as approved by the Building/Fire Official.


A. Work to Designated Historic Structures. Designated historic structures are an important expression of the City’s cultural history. To encourage preservation efforts and continued use of designated historic structures, where proposed work is estimated to exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure prior to the proposed work, the entire structure shall not have to be brought in compliance with current code requirements, provided the proposed work is done in accordance with the requirements provided below:

1. The proposed work complies with the codes adopted by this chapter and all other applicable provisions of the Snohomish Municipal Code and other applicable state and federal laws and regulations.

2. Where proposed work does not impact and/or require the removal and/or alteration of load-bearing members that are essential to the structural frame.

3. Where proposed work does not involve all areas of the structure and the work does not impact load-bearing members or the structural frame.

4. Where the proposed work involving load-bearing members and/or the structural frame is limited to the installation of drywall and/or insulation.

5. To the extent that this chapter otherwise requires the installation of an automatic fire sprinkler system and/or automatic fire alarm system in the structure, that requirement(s) shall apply, and no exception shall be made hereunder.

6. If the proposed work involves a change in use of the structure and the change of use triggers additional exiting requirements, such exiting requirements shall apply, and no exception shall be made hereunder.

7. If the proposed work involves a change in use of the structure, the change of use shall be in accordance with the Snohomish Municipal Code, including but not limited to this chapter and the land use code contained in SMC Title 14.

8. Where the proposed work has little likelihood of being accomplished because the existing structural conditions require the removal or alteration of a load-bearing member that is an essential part of the structural frame, or because other existing physical or site constraints prohibit modifications, or addition of elements, spaces, or features which are in full and strict compliance with the minimum requirements for new construction and which are necessary to provide accessibility are technically infeasible, alternate methods and materials may be utilized as approved by the Building/Fire Official.

9. In no case shall the proposed work and/or change in use cause the structure to become unsafe, create an unsafe condition, and/or create a fire and life safety hazard.

B. Where substantial damage or substantial improvement does not include the removal or cutting away of any wall, partition, or portion thereof, the removal or cutting of any structural beam or load-bearing support, or the rearrangement of parts of a structure affecting the egress requirements.

C. Where other regulations govern specific or more restrictive adherence to the codes as adopted by the City. (Ord. 2483, 2024)