By Abigail Popple, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, RMG

A new edition of building codes for the province comes into effect on March 8. Blaine Harasimiuk, Manager of Building Inspection and Sustainable Practices for the Fraser-Fort George regional district, explained that the new codes will affect any building permits applied for on or after that date.

“Every permit that comes in gets a plan review,” Harasimiuk said. “Anything that we notice that doesn’t comply with the new code after March 8, we would make notes on that plan.”

While most of the codes have been carried over from the 2018 edition, some new requirements have been added.

For one, the province is updating its requirements for radon rough-ins. The second leading cause of lung cancer, radon gas is found in soil throughout BC; rough-ins are pipe systems that draws radon away from building interiors.

Radon rough-ins will now be required throughout the province. Because coastal areas tend to have less radon gas in their soils, they have previously been exempt from the rough-in requirement. Now, every new building in the province will need to include a rough-in, Harasimiuk said.

Rough-ins “have to be accessible in case there’s any future work that needs to be done on the soil,” he added.

Rough-in pipes will lead to the exterior of a building, where the pipe will be accessible should work be needed.

In an effort to cope with warmer summers, the province is now requiring new buildings to have at least one living space that does not grow hotter than 26 degrees. The province has not issued specific guidance on how to keep rooms cool, but Harasimiuk explained that an insulated basement or air-conditioned room would comply with this requirement.

The codes have also been updated to align with the 2020 National Building Codes, published in March 2022. Mass timber construction – a technique which uses dense pieces of timber to build stronger, more earthquake-proof structures than typical timber construction – is now allowed under the BC Building Codes, in line with the National Building Codes.

Additionally, the province is working on new codes that will come into effect March 2025. While details remain to be hammered out, these regulations will include improved earthquake design elements and expanded adaptable housing standards. An adaptable house is designed for residents to “age in place,” and in the current Building Codes, includes design elements such as wide hallways, accessible building entrances, and control panels that can be accessed by someone in a wheelchair.

Harasimiuk does not anticipate difficulty in communicating the forthcoming changes.

“Generally discussions occur either on-site or before the code changes to let the general contractors know of the changes that are coming up,” he explained. Additionally, the Province will publish a ministerial order when new changes come into effect; Harasimiuk said that the Fraser-Fort George regional district is in touch with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of British Columbia regarding building code changes.

The Goat reached out to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Northern BC, but did not receive a comment by press time.