Code Changes

Learn about key changes adopted in the BC Codes 2018.

BC Building Code 2018 Revision 2

Revision 2 changes are effective December 12, 2019 and apply to building permits that are applied for on or after this date.

Revision 2 includes changes to carbon monoxide detectors or alarms, BC Energy Step Code, lighting in recycling rooms, roof-top enclosures and roof-top occupancies, secondary suites, and tall wood jurisdiction specific requirements. For more information visit the errata and revisions page and read the technical bulletin web page.

BC Energy Step Code

Revision 2 includes changes to the BC Energy Step Code requirements for Part 9 residential buildings, Part 3 buildings outside climate zone 4, and Part 3 public sector buildings. More information is available on the BC Energy Step Code website.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Alarms

Recent carbon monoxide related incidents highlighted the need for carbon monoxide detectors or alarms in occupancies in addition to residential buildings. New requirements for stores, offices, and assembly buildings such as classrooms and recreational facilities will notify commercial building occupants when there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, to support safe evacuation.

Lighting in Recycling Rooms

Revision 2 applies the same public area and service room lighting requirements for rooms used for the storage of combustible refuse. Buildings are increasingly designed with common rooms where recyclable materials are stored. Adequate lighting is required to identify and avoid hazards and provide an acceptable level of safety for all users.

Roof-top Enclosures and Roof-top Occupancies

Additional requirements for fire alarms and exits are adopted to increase safety for people occupying and leaving roof-top areas.

Secondary Suites

Changes to secondary suite requirements harmonize the BC Code with the form and approach of the National Building Code to enable the construction of more secondary suites while maintaining an appropriate level of safety.

Tall Wood Jurisdiction Specific Regulation

Early adoption of the National Building Code requirements for encapsulated mass timber enable the construction of 12-storey tall wood buildings in specific jurisdictions. For more information visit the tall wood initiative web page.

BC Building Code 2018 Revision 1

Revision 1 included changes to the BC Energy Step Code metrics and radon requirements and took effect December 10, 2018. For more information visit the errata and revisions page.

BC Building Code 2018 Changes

Information about key changes between the 2012 and the 2018 editions of the BC Building Code is listed below.

Accessibility

The BC Building Code 2018 combines the requirements of the National Building Code 2015 with B.C.’s existing requirements to achieve a higher level of building accessibility. New requirements help improve accessibility in small retail shops, and common areas of condominium and apartment buildings, as well as allow greater flexibility in design choices. More information on this update can be found in technical bulletin B18-05 (PDF).

Area Calculation and Exposing Building Face

The BC Building Code 2018 clarifies the language explaining requirements for fire protection between adjacent residential and small buildings in Part 9 and better aligns with the language and intent of fire protection, occupant safety, and accessibility requirements in Part 3.

Asbestos

The BC Building Code 2018 does not include direct references to asbestos containing products, due to the potential risk to the health and safety of building occupants.

Energy Efficiency Standards

The BC Building Code 2018 references new building energy efficiency codes and standards. Some of the changes include: enhanced requirements for roofs, walls and fenestration; additional controls for lighting to reduce energy use; and new efficiency and rating requirements for some mechanical systems. New buildings meeting these requirements will improve their energy performance, and the new requirements contribute to the Province’s goal of requiring net-zero energy ready buildings in the BC Building Code by 2032.

Exit Signs

The BC Building Code 2018 will retain the existing reference standards for exit signs, rather than adopting the National Building Code 2015 requirement.

Factory Constructed Buildings

The BC Building Code 2018 clarifies requirements related to the Procedure for Factory Certification of Buildings to support enforcement practices.

Fenestration

The BC Building Code 2018 references the 2011 edition of the North American Fenestration Standard/Specification for Windows, Doors, and Skylights (NAFS) and the 2017 edition of the Canadian Supplement to NAFS.

Heritage Buildings

The table of alternate compliance methods for heritage buildings is unique to B.C. and differs from the National Building Code 2015. The BC Building Code 2018 includes an updated table, with editorial corrections and updates to code sentence references.

Mid-Rise Combustible Construction

Following consultations with industry stakeholders and based on extensive research and evaluation, the BC Building Code 2018 has adopted the National Building Code 2015 provision for mid-rise combustible buildings with a variation specific to B.C. The variation will require 100 percent of the exterior cladding to have increased fire protection and 10 percent of a building’s perimeter to be located within 15 meters of a street or streets. More information on this update can be found in technical bulletin B18-06 (PDF).

Energy Efficiency of Plumbing Fixtures

Plumbing fixture efficiency requirements have been relocated from the BC Building Code to the BC Plumbing Code Book II. In addition, new requirements have been adopted from the National Plumbing Code 2015. 

Radon

Radon protection requirements have been updated to defer to the data established by the authority having jurisdiction and, in the absence of such data, to the revised table in the BC Building Code 2018. 

Stairs

Important changes have been made to stair requirements to improve safety and accessibility for all users. The BC Building Code 2018 does not include permissions adopted in the National Building Code 2015 for dimensions of tapered treads and spiral stairs within a dwelling unit. In addition, the redundant requirement for two handrails on a curved stair has been deleted. 

BC Fire Code 2018 Revision 1

Revision 1 changes are effective December 12, 2019 and apply to building permits that are applied for on or after that date.

Tall Wood Jurisdiction Specific Regulation

Changes include errata and new requirements for encapsulated mass timber construction sites. For more information read the list of revisions document.

BC Fire Code 2018 Changes

Information about key changes between the 2012 and the 2018 editions of the BC Fire Code is listed below.

Application to Fire Alarm, Standpipe, and Sprinkler Systems

The BC Fire Code 2018 includes changes to clarify that code requirements for fire alarms, standpipes, and sprinkler systems are not intended to retroactively apply to existing buildings. New language explains that existing fire protection systems that provide an acceptable level of safety are not required to be upgraded with each new edition of the BC Building and/or BC Fire Code.

Emergency Lighting and Exit Signs

The BC Fire Code 2018 adopted new language to clarify that there is no requirement in the BC Fire Code to remove and replace existing exit signs that comply with previous editions of the code. In addition, code language has been changed to reflect the intent that requirements for emergency lighting and exit signs apply in all means of egress, not only exits.

Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarm code language was changed to clarify that the BC Fire Code does not require existing smoke alarms to be replaced comply with previous editions of the code.  Additional code change information on smoke alarms is available in technical bulletin B18-07.

Use of Elevators in Emergency

The BC Fire Code did not adopt the new National Fire Code provisions and retains the requirement to post a fire safety sign or symbol indicating that the elevator is not to be used in an emergency.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner is the leader of fire safety awareness and prevention in BC and is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the BC Fire Code. Please see their website for more information about fire safety and education guidelines, bulletins, and position papers. A bulletin titled Fire Safety for Construction and Demolition Sites to support fire prevention is also available on their website.

More information on the BC Fire Code updates can be found in technical bulletin B18-07 (PDF).

The content on this page is periodically updated by the Province of British Columbia per the date noted on the page: December 12, 2019