The BC government has announced changes to the BC Building and Plumbing Codes designed to address affordable housing and higher health, safety and energy-efficiency standards.
Changes will apply to any new permit applications submitted on or after December 12, 2019.
One major change will give municipal governments the option of changing local zoning and development bylaws to allow secondary suites in side-by-side multi-family buildings such as duplexes, townhouses and row housing. This change would not apply to apartment-style buildings where units are above or below each other.
Maximum size restrictions for secondary suites are also being removed from the BC Building Code, which applies across the province with the exception of certain federal lands and the City of Vancouver. Local governments will be able to set their own size restrictions for secondary suites.
As we discussed in a previous blog post, the Building Code will also begin allowing the construction of 12-storey wood buildings, up from the previous limit of 6 storeys, using mass timber technology. With mass timber buildings, the primary load-bearing structure is composed of solid or engineered wood. When wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests, it has a significantly reduced carbon footprint. Additionally, these buildings can be one-fifth the weight of equivalent concrete structures, allowing for smaller foundations and seismic resistance.
New BC Building Code Safety Changes
- New secondary suites will require fire separations between residences
- Requirements for carbon monoxide detectors in commercial buildings and assembly buildings
- Increased lighting in recycling rooms
- Additional requirements for fire alarms and exits on roof-top enclosures such as patios
Energy Step Code Changes
The province is also introducing updates to its Energy Step Code, a voluntary standard for energy efficiency that local governments and builders can opt in to. The updates include new requirements for public sector buildings such as hospitals, schools, community centres and university classrooms.
For complete details of upcoming code changes, please see the official Government of BC webpage.
Contact a CapriCMW Risk Advisor for information and resources on construction insurance and risk management.