Capitol Hill & Pioneer Square & Seattle Real Estate News

Do You Live in a Brick Building in Capitol Hill or Pioneer Square? Then You NEED to Read This

Do you live in a beautiful brick turn-of-the-century building in Capitol Hill or Pioneer Square?

If you do, there’s Seattle legislation in the works that may affect you. The words to remember are “unreinforced masonry construction.”

Why? Well, Seattle’s predisposition towards earthquakes and public safety are the main instigators here. The city is also interested in protecting historic buildings in our community. Currently, Seattle is working on a plan to require Unreinforced Masonry (URM) buildings to retrofit for earthquake survival. This is a good thing, but expensive. If your building is not planning for this or has reserve issues, this can be financially devastating. These retrofits are expensive and time consuming.

Fortunately, Seattle will not just dump this on your HOA. Likely, the bill will not pass for a few more years, and when it does (there is no doubt the bill will pass—the only question is when), it will likely give buildings adequate time to complete the repairs. Still, depending on how your building is managed, this could result in HUGE assessments.

So, what should YOU do? Good question. I’d recommend go to your monthly or quarterly homeowners meetings and bring this issue up. Find out if your building is aware of this legislation and whether or not they have a plan for implementation. At this current point in time, your building would have time to start saving and preparing for the eventual passage.

One thing is clear: now is the time to start planning for this!

A few buildings where I’ve sold homes in are currently planning for this, but I find that it’s typically the larger old buildings like Garden Court or Belmont Place in Capitol Hill that are preparing. What I find most concerning are the mid-sized to small buildings that have no idea that this is on the horizon.

Want to learn more? Check out the “Seattle Department of Construction & Inspections” page of Seattle.gov to get the details!

I can’t stress it enough: don’t get caught off guard! If you live in a old brick building, you should make your HOA aware of this if they are not already.

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Matt Miner

Real estate guru and Seattle know-it-all


In everything that I do as your REALTOR®, I have one guiding principle in mind: To make certain that your home-buying or selling experience is a happy, successful, wonderful life experience! We build trust and security with our clients using knowledge and transparency.