B.C.’s new Building Act to bring conformity
Changes are afoot in the province of British Columbia after a new Building Act received Royal Assent on March 25.
The new act is intended to standardize requirements for buildings across the province between jurisdictions. The province says the construction sector has been asking for a standard approach for years as “it would reduce costs and improve efficiency, productivity and innovation.”
Anne McMullin, president and CEO of Urban Development Institute, has said: “We are pleased to see the B.C. government adopt a more modern approach to building regulations. Building requirements across B.C. are currently far from consistent and often complicate construction and increase costs. This new act will give builders and developers the certainty they need to move forward with projects.”
What does it mean in practical terms?
First the Act establishes the province as the sole authority that is able to create and set building requirements.
Second, it establishes a new regime for building officials. All building inspectors will be forced to obtain mandatory standard qualifications and thus know how to apply and interpret the rules.
Third, the legislation expands the province’s ability to review innovative building proposals.
With these legislative changes, B.C. joins eight other Canadian provinces in having a unified stand-alone act for building construction.
ACEC-BC reports that the changes will be implemented in stages. From the time a new regulation comes into force, local governments will have two years to rescind their own building codes and bring their rules into line. It will take four years to phase in the new regime for building officials. ACEC-BC also advises that the province is preparing a Building Act Guide and planning other educational supports.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Ministry of Energy and Mines is asking building industry professionals and officials that are involved with large Part 3 buildings to complete a survey about compliance with energy codes. Since December 2013 large buildings in the province have had to comply with ASHRAE 90.1-2010 or the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB) 2011.
In partnership with BC Hydro, the province wants to identify gaps and inefficiencies in how these rules are being applied and will begin conducting an anonymous survey on April 9. Mechanical/electrical and building envelope engineers, as well as architects and other industry professionals are asked to give their feedback. The survey takes around 15-20 minutes.
Click here to access the survey.
Click here to read an article by ACEC-BC on the changes.
Click here for the initial announcement of the new B.C. Building Act from the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing.