Adult Family Homes

See also: House Additions & Remodels, Earthquake Home Retrofit Permit

What Is It?

A white woman with orange hair in front of a house next to a smaller accessory dwelling unit.An adult family home is a dwelling, licensed by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), in which someone provides room and board and care for up to 6 adults not related to the person providing the services. An adult family home that has an existing permitted use as an adult family home may now be expanded to provide services for up to 8 adults. You must have approval from DSHS, in accordance with RCW 70.128.066, to operate an adult family home or to add additional services to an existing permitted adult family home.

Contact DSHS for more information, and to see if you qualify.

What Permits Do You Need?

Please note that even if you are not proposing any construction, you still need to obtain a construction permit to establish the use as an adult family home. Changing the use from a single-family residence to an adult family home will trigger substantial alterations and may require improvements to the building, including seismic upgrades.

Adult family homes are considered a residential use as defined in the Land Use Code per SMC 23.84A.032 and are allowed in most zones. If you want to establish an adult family home, you'll need to meet the standards found in the underlying zone for residential use, (i.e., Single family 5000, LR2, NC2, etc.).

You may need a permit if you want to provide services for additional adults at an already-permitted and licensed adult family home. Adult family homes expanding from 6 to 7 or 8 residents will also:

  • Be protected by a residential sprinkler system (RCW 70.128.066). A fire sprinkler permit can be obtained through the SDCI project portal as a Trade Permit.
  • Need a construction permit if you're creating a new AFH sleeping room within the home, if you are converting a space that was not previously used for the AFH, or if you are doing any construction work that requires a building permit.

You will need to obtain a license from DSHS in addition to getting a construction permit. More information on DSHS requirements is available on their website.

Research the Code

The Seattle Residential Code (SRC) has specific requirements for adult family homes.

Associated Documents

Should You Hire a Professional?

You may want the help of a professional to prepare documents for your construction permit application.