What is the BC Building Code?

Building Codes set out minimum construction standards. The BC Building Code is based on the model National Building Code of Canada and is adopted by the Province of B.C. with some modifications. All construction in B.C. must conform to requirements in the BC Building Code, except for the City of Vancouver. The City of Vancouver is unique because of its charter, and is responsible for its own building regulations.

Building codes are updated periodically and builders are expected to comply with the latest edition in effect.

Minimum Construction Standards

The building code is a minimum standard, and not a best practice guide. The code sets out basic prescriptive and performance requirements for building elements. The building code covers basic building envelope and interior and exterior finishes and how they are to be constructed, but the principal focus of the building code is public health, fire safety and structural sufficiency. It also ensures the building is accessible to all occupants including those with disabilities. For these reasons there are minimum requirements for door sizes and locations, guardrails, and finishing of construction assemblies.

Other codes that apply to home construction are trade specific:

  • Plumbing Code - This applies to plumbing systems in the home. Plumbing is a regulated trade, and all plumbing must be done by a licensed plumber. In British Columbia, the provincial Plumbing Code is incorporated as Part 7 of the BC Building Code.
  • Electrical Code - This applies to all electrical work in the home. Electrical work is a regulated trade, and all electrical service work must be done by a licensed electrician. The British Columbia Safety Authority regulates electrical work in BC.
  • Gas Code - This governs natural gas installations. Gas trades are a regulated trade, and all gas installations must be done by a licensed gas fitter. The British Columbia Safety Authority regulates gas installation in BC.

Standards and Referenced Documents in the Code

The building code contains more than 200 referenced standards that are published by accredited standards development organizations. Generally, standards allow products or systems to be measured and compared in accordance to a set of requirements. In Canada, there are four standards development organizations accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, including: