Federal government to boost code access, target code patchwork

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Ever wonder what the National Building Code says when it comes to plumbing and HVAC/R? The national codes, which are adopted into provincial building codes, have always been available for a price. But the cost is a barrier and one reason so many in the industry along with municipal and provincial officials continue to refer to outdated versions.

In its 2018 Fall Economic Statement: Investing in Middle Class Jobs, the federal government announced that its national code will be available free of charge. As well, it announced plans to work with the provinces to harmonize building codes across Canada, replacing the current patchwork of provincial and municipal regulations, something the industry has been urging for years.

Requiring manufacturers to provide different products for different regions substantially increases prices. On water heaters, for example, the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH) estimates the myriad of regulations adds 30 percent to the cost of the typical unit.

The National Building Codes are developed with the support of the National Research Council (NRCan). It can be difficult for smaller business (which account for 99 per cent of Canada’s construction industry) to grow because of the cost of purchasing building codes, reports CIPH.

The government is proposing to provide $67.5 million over five years to the National Research Council of Canada with $13.5 million in ongoing funding to make access to the National Building Codes free.

“The outcome of this was a true industry and government partnership recognizing that reducing regulatory barriers benefits both business and consumers by promoting investment, lowering the price of consumer goods and creating more opportunities for middle-class Canadians,” said Ralph Suppa, CIPH president and general manager.

Harmonized and freely available building codes will also ensure that municipalities can readily access and use the latest codes as they become available. Consistently applied and harmonized building codes make it easier for designers, product manufacturers, distributors and contractors to conduct business more efficiently across the country, states CIPH.

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