Construction Codes are technical provisions for the design and construction of new buildings and for the use, alteration, maintenance, changes of use and demolition of existing buildings. They include standards for building, fire safety, plumbing and energy efficiency. They are made effective within provinces and territories and are based on National Codes.
National Codes, which include the National Building Code of Canada, the National Plumbing Code of Canada, the National Fire Code of Canada, the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings, and the National Farm Building Code of Canada, are developed by an independent Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes. The National Research Council of Canada provides administrative, financial and technical support to the Commission.
Provinces and territories consider and generally adopt National Codes but have done so in different timeframes. They can also make substantive variations to the National Codes. This has resulted in a patchwork of provincial/territorial approaches to Construction Codes. For decades, industry has raised the complexity and compliance challenges that result from this patchwork.
The different adoption timeframes and technical variations of these codes can increase construction costs and result in barriers related to manufacturing, operation, inspection and education/training for industry, trades, professionals, local governments, and regulators.
Given the substantial work involved with reconciliation, and as National Codes are updated every five years, the process for cross-country alignment will take time and will be completed in phases. When implemented, the agreement will result in:
- 1. The reduction or elimination of variations in the technical requirements of Construction Codes
- Participating parties have agreed to identify variations and exceptions for the current (2015) National Codes and, within six months of the effective date for subsequent editions of Construction Codes going forward.
- After 2025, any new codes will be further harmonized with applicable National Codes and with leading practices from the provinces and territories, subject to exceptions provided for under the agreement.
- 2. The timely adoption of Construction Codes
- Participating parties have agreed to make Construction Codes effective within 24 months of the next (2020) National Codes, and within 18 months of subsequent codes (2025 and after).
- 3. A transformed National Code Development System to meet the needs of all jurisdictions.
- By 2021, the National Code Development System will be transformed to integrate the provincial/territorial code development processes into the national process. The new code development system will be more responsive, more agile, and will result in fewer variations in the next (2025) edition of the Codes and as future codes are developed.
- Participating parties have agreed to develop an implementation plan and report progress to RCT annually.
- 4. Freely available National Codes
- National Codes are now available for free in a digital format, and with unlimited access.
When implemented, the annual economic benefit attributable to this work is estimated to be between $750 million and $1 billion by 2028.