Ask a Building Code Question

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Codes

Code Availability and Cost

Code Requirements and Application

About the Codes

Question: What is the BC Building Code?

Answer: The BC Building Code is a provincial regulation for new construction and building alterations, establishing minimum standards for safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection of buildings, and protection of the building or facility from water and sewer damage. The Building Code also includes requirements for energy and water efficiency. The Code applies throughout the province, except for some Federal lands and the City of Vancouver.

The 2012 BC Building Code is based on the 2010 edition of the model National Building and National Plumbing Codes of Canada with some variations specific to B.C.

Question: What is the BC Plumbing Code?

Answer: The BC Plumbing Code (Part 7 of the BC Building Code) establishes minimum health and safety standards for building plumbing installations.

Question: What is the BC Fire Code?

Answer: The BC Fire Code is a provincial regulation for ongoing use of existing buildings and facilities that establishes minimum standards for health, safety, and fire protection.


Code Availability and Cost

Question: Where can I buy the Building Code, Plumbing Code and Fire Codes?

Answer: The BC Building Code, BC Plumbing Code and BC Fire Code are available in print and online subscription formats from the Queen's Printer.

Website: www.bccodes.ca
Toll free: 1 800 663-6105
Fax: 250 387-1120
Email: bccodes@gov.bc.ca

Public libraries have reference copies of the codes available.

Question: What is the cost?

For a complete list of products and pricing, contact the Queen’s Printer:

Website: www.bccodes.ca
Toll free: 1 800 663-6105
Fax: 250 387-1120
Email: bccodes@gov.bc.ca

Question: Why is the BC Building Code not available online for free?

Answer: The BC Building Code is available for reference free of charge at public libraries. The BC Building Code is based on the National Building Code, which is developed by the National Research Council of Canada. The sale of building codes in BC helps fund the national code development system.


Code Requirements and Application

Question: Accessibility – What are the requirements in the BC Building Code?

Answer: Requirements regarding access for persons with disabilities are found in Division B.3.8 of the BC Building Code. As a convenience, these requirements are illustrated and explained in the Building Access Handbook which is available here.

Question: Alternative solutions – What are they?

Answer: “Alternative solution” replaces the term “equivalency” used in the 1998 BC Building Code. Code users may propose alternative solutions, or alternative ways of meeting BC Building Code requirements. These proposals require local authority approval.

Question: Bedroom Window - Is it required by the BC Building Code?

Answer: The BC Building Code generally requires every bedroom in a house and every bedroom in a small multi-family residential building to have an outside window that can be used as an emergency exit. The window opening must be 0.35M2 with no dimension less than 380mm.

Question: Existing Buildings – Do they have to conform to the BC Building Code?

Answer: Existing buildings would have been required to conform to the edition of the BC Building Code in force when they were constructed. An existing building is not expected to be brought up to current BC Building Code standards except under the following conditions:  

  • If a building is altered or renovated
  • If a building’s use or occupancy changes
  • If  a building’s components are replaced

In these circumstances, the current BC Building Code applies solely to those changes. Any existing, unaltered, or unaffected parts of the building will not be required to conform to the new Code.

Example:

The owner of an existing building is replacing some windows. As per the 2012 BC Building Code, the windows would be required to conform to the North American Fenestration Standard (NAFS) as well as A440S1-09 Canadian Supplement to AAMA/WDMA/CSA 101/I.S.2/A440. Any wall or other part of the building adjacent to the window replacement project that was not altered or otherwise affected would not be required to conform to the 2012 BC Building Code.

For matters related to application of the BC Fire Code to existing buildings, please contact the Office of the Fire Commissioner at 1-888-988-9488 or OFC@gov.bc.ca.

Question: Temporary Buildings – Do they have to be built to the BC Building Code?

Answer: A temporary building may not need to conform to the BC Building Code if this is authorized by the authority having jurisdiction. Please check with your local government building department. Local government contact information may be found here.

Question: Water Heaters – Are there new regulations in the BC Building Code?

Answer: There are new regulations under the Energy Efficiency Act for energy efficiency of water heaters. For more information, see the webpage for the Energy Efficiency Act.

Question: Windows and Doors – Are there new regulations in the BC Building Code?

Answer: There are new regulations under the Energy Efficiency Act for energy efficiency of windows and doors. For more information, see the webpage for the Energy Efficiency Act.


If your question is not addressed above, see the choices below:

Is your question about the BC Fire Code?

Technical questions about the BC Fire Code should be directed to the Office of the Fire Commissioner at 1-888-988-9488 or OFC@gov.bc.ca. Their website is at http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/firecom/.

Is your question about building permits?

If your question is related to building permits or zoning bylaws, please contact your local authority having jurisdiction. You can find contact information for local governments at http://www.civicinfo.bc.ca/11.asp.

Is your question about a building located in the City of Vancouver?

Questions relating to buildings located within the City of Vancouver should be directed to http://vancouver.ca/cipform_net/Default.aspx.

Is your question about the condition of a rental building?

Information on maintenance responsibilities in rental buildings can be found at http://www.rto.gov.bc.ca/content/rightsResponsibilities/repairs.aspx. The BC Building Code is not a maintenance document for existing buildings. The BC Building Code is not applied retroactively to existing building unless triggered by a renovation or addition.

Is your question about gas or electrical codes or enforcement?

The BC Safety Authority mandates the safe installation and use of gas, electrical, elevating and other technologies as well as issuing permits and licences and conducting onsite inspections. Contact information can be found at http://www.safetyauthority.ca/contact

Other inquiries

If your question is not addressed above, complete the Ask a Building Code Question form. Please ensure you have included your first and last name, telephone number, e-mail address, and organization name. Your question should be as specific as possible, and should include all relevant information required to respond, such as the building type (house, row house, multi-family), number of storeys and specific code reference, if applicable.

Our current average response time is seven business days or less; however, this may vary depending on the number of inquiries received or the complexity of the question.

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