The Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Northern BC is worried building code changes could drive up the price of new homes.
On December 19, the B.C. Building Code will introduce increased energy-efficiency requirements for houses and small buildings. Key changes will mean new requirements for effective insulation levels, ventilation and radon rough-in requirements, as well as options for code compliance.
The province has been seeking to move to a uniform building code for almost 10 years, where the provincial government would be the sole authority for building codes, product standards and technical requirements in the residential construction industry throughout British Columbia. Individual municipalities would follow provincial guidelines and modify their own bylaws accordingly. Further, local government officials in relevant planning and building departments would be required to meet provincial qualifications in the efforts to achieve consistent code interpretation and agreed upon compliance standards, across the board.
Until then, changes to the BC Building Code can create confusion between building officials and builders, leading to project disruption and delays, says the association.
“Currently it’s up to the industry (the builders, suppliers and other stakeholders), including building officials in each municipality or regional district to work together to ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of code interpretation and agreed-upon remedial action as well as compliance issues” said Terri McConnachie, executive officer for the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Northern BC.
She said association members will be meeting with building officials in the next few weeks to try and determine the impact prior to next year’s building season.
Until that happens, it is difficult to affix a price tag to the cost of the 2014 code changes, she said.
“Code requirements that improve indoor air quality in our new energy-efficient homes is a good thing and it is a guess that it could cost builders up to $10,000, depending on what steps they choose to take to meet the new codes,” said McConnachie. “Some builders will chose to make installing a heat recovery ventilation system, or HRV, as a standard for new homes, which is perfect for colder climates and healthy indoor air quality, but it comes with a price tag. Builders in our region have long been following or exceeding more stringent energy-efficiency practices and it is speculated that builders in the more southern regions will be harder hit.”
The last round of code changes in 2012 increased the building cost to new home builders in northern B.C. anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000, she said.