Code questions

Have a technical question about the BC Codes? There's lots of information that can help you answer it.

Let us help direct you to the right place:

 

Review the Code

The BC Codes are now free online, including the Building, Plumbing and Fire Codes. If you want to look something up, this is your fastest option. You can also find print copies at many B.C. public libraries, or buy a print copy from Queen's Printer.

Consult reliable Code resources

Consider using these resources to answer your question.

Building Code Appeal Board (BCAB): An independent body that hears appeals of decisions of a local authority on whether a matter conforms to a building regulation. Decisions are not intended to set a precedent, and shouldn't be used to approve building materials, products or systems.

Technical Bulletins: Produced by the Province, they provide technical information to explain or clarify specific Code topics. 

BC Interpretation Committee (BCIC): A committee of volunteer organizations that takes a consensus-based approach to facilitating province-wide uniformity in the interpretation of the BC Building and Plumbing Codes. 

Technical Safety BC: An independent organization that provides oversight in the safe installation and operation of technical systems across the province. These include, but are not limited to, natural gas and propane appliances, elevating devices, amusement rides, railways, and refrigeration systems.

BC Housing's Licensing and Consumer Services and Research Centre: Provide research and guidance to builders and developers, homeowners and home buyers, and owner builders. They can also connect builders to training for continuing professional development.

Contact your authority having jurisdiction

The Province doesn't review plans or enforce the BC Codes or provide opinions on the compliance of specific projects. For questions about permits, compliance or enforcement on a specific project, contact your local authority having jurisdiction.

You must coordinate with your local authority having jurisdiction on all applicable permits.

Work with your industry association

Members of industry associations with practice advisors or other Code experts are encouraged to work within their association.

Check our quick links

Find answers to common Code questions here.

The BC Codes apply to most parts of British Columbia. Certain Indigenous and certain federal lands are exempted. Contact your local authority having jurisdiction to determine the application of the Code.

The BC Codes don't apply in the City of Vancouver which has its own building bylaw.

Registered professionals (architects and engineers) are always required for complex buildings or what are referred to as Part 3 buildings in the Code. They are sometimes required for small buildings or what are referred to as Part 9 buildings in the Code. 

The scope and application of the use of registered professionals can be found in Subsection 2.2.7. of Division C in the BC Building Code.

The Architects Act and the Professional Governance Act may have additional requirements for registered professionals on projects. As well, some authorities having jurisdiction may require registered professionals in addition to the requirements of the BC Building Code.

The Building Code Appeal Board (BCAB) provides rulings and hears appeals of decisions of a local authority on whether a matter conforms to a building regulation. Board decisions are site specific, final and binding, and can only be overruled if a court judicial review determines the basic principles of administrative law were not followed.

If you suspect a building or building component doesn't comply with the Code, contact the authority having jurisdiction. Authorities having jurisdiction address building permit applications, code compliance and related matters.

The BC Building and Plumbing Codes apply to buildings at the time of construction. They aren't intended to retroactively apply to existing buildings unless the buildings or part of them are altered or changing use. When renovating or altering an existing building, the Code generally applies to any new work, and any parts of the building affected by the new work. Coordinate with your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) prior to doing work to an existing building.

The BC Codes are substantially based on the National Codes which provide guidelines on applying the Code to existing buildings. Although the guidelines are outdated, they still serve as a helpful basis for reference:

Accessibility is an important part of the BC Building Code.

Section 3.8. of Division B of the BC Building Code prescribes a choice of using the CSA Standard B651 Accessible Design for the Built Environment as an alternative option for accessible design apart from specific provisions given in Subsection 3.8.3.

The BC Codes also allow for alternative solution proposals as described in Divisions A and C.

Learn more in the Building Accessibility Handbook.

The Building and Safety Standards Branch (BSSB) participates in the national Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) code development process. As a result, BSSB recommends sending code change requests to them through the National Research Council.

The BC Codes contain language that is different to the model National Codes. If the change you'd like to request is in the B.C.-specific code language, notify the Building and Safety Standards Branch by sending an email to building.safety@gov.bc.ca.

 

Ask a Code question

If you are unable to find the find the information you need, you can email us your Code question

The Building and Safety Standards Branch has made changes to improve our BC Codes inquiry service. This includes asking for certain information to accurately answer questions and manage high inquiry volumes. This may mean it takes longer to provide answers.

What we can't answer

We don't provide the following services:

  • Building plan review
  • Confirmation or assurance of BC Codes compliance (building, plumbing or fire)
  • Enforcement of the BC Codes (building, plumbing or fire)
  • Consultation on disputes such as between owners or designers and authorities having jurisdiction
  • The following types of advice:
    • Legal
    • Buying or selling real estate
    • Warranty inquiries or claims

What we can answer

We provide general opinions on interpretation and application of the BC Codes. These opinions have no legal effect and are not professional advice.

How to ask a Code question

Email codequestion@gov.bc.ca and include the information below to help us respond as quickly as possible. Missing information and complex questions may take additional time.

  • Your position
    • Examples: architect, builder, building official, designer, engineer, homeowner
  • Building description
    • Examples: new project or an existing building, number of storeys in building,  building area, use or uses, and type of construction (combustible or noncombustible)
  • Building location (also referred to as authority having jurisdiction)
    • Examples: City of Prince George, District of Vanderhoof
    • Note: BC Codes don't apply to buildings in the City of Vancouver, Treaty First Nations that don't reference the BC Codes in their agreements, or on certain federal lands
  • Code reference in subject line of your email
    • Examples:
      • 3.4.1.4. Types of Exits
      • 9.9.10.1. Egress Windows or Doors for Bedrooms
      • 9.10.8.1. Fire-Resistance Ratings for Floors and Roofs

Page last updated March 29, 2021.