Interpretative guidance on residential building amid COVID-19



TO: BIA Member Companies

FROM: Avaly Scarpelli, Executive Director

DATE: March 26, 2020 (Updated April 6)

RE: Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation and Interpretative Guidance on Residential Building


This document provides guidance on complying with Governor Jay Inslee’s Construction Guidance Memo, issued March 25, 2020, which clarifies the scope of the March 23, 2020 Stay Home, Stay Healthy Proclamation.

In the Guidance Memorandum, the Governor clarified that “commercial and residential construction is not authorized under the Proclamation because construction is not considered to be an essential activity.” The Governor provided limited exceptions to this order for circumstances that construction may be allowed, including:

Construction related to essential activities as described in the order;

  1. To further a public purpose related to a public entity or governmental function or facility, including but not limited to publicly financed low-income housing; or
  2. To prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions, and address emergency repairs at both non-essential businesses and residential structures (Dependent on the guidelines and type of work allowed in the jurisdiction where your project exists) 

In accordance with the Guidance Memorandum and local guidelines on allowable work, the BIA recommends:

  • Printing a color copy of the three pertinent documents (attached) and keeping copies at each individual work site.
  • Immediately doing an inventory of each project against the order and clarification document to determine what minimally necessary must be done to “prevent spoliation and avoid damage or unsafe conditions.”
  • Document the project items and activities needed to complete them to get the structure to what is minimally necessary to which no further risk of damage or unsafe condition exists to real property improvements.
  • Keep this inventory document on site to refer to if approached by enforcement officials.
  • Proceed as quickly as possible to complete the necessary items to the point which no further of risk damage or unsafe condition exists.
  • Continue to follow all the protocols of social distancing, cleaning, etc as prescribed by State order and CDC recommendations.
  • If you are asked by law enforcement to leave your site, respectfully explain why you believe you are able to continue securing your site under the Governor’s limited exemption. If you are still asked to leave pack up quickly, securing what you are allowed to and leave the site.

If you’re a worker or a business wanting to know if your business is “essential” or you need clarification whether your business is “essential”, fill out this form »


As you proceed please keep these three items in mind:

  • You need to be able to justify how what you are doing fits within the allowable exemptions; the red face test
  • You do not want to be a front page headline as the business that is defying the order while everyone else is staying home to protect our community
  • We are working with the governor’s office to get these restrictions relaxed, so we must act very carefully and responsibly.


This memo only serves as guidance and each company must work with their legal counsel to determine applicability for their projects and processes.


View BIAW’s Important COVID-19 Resources for Employers 


For questions, suggestions or concerns please contact Ryan Makinster, Government Affairs Director at or 360.727.1643.

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