The 2012 BC Building Code is the code that is currently in force, effective as of December 20, 2012. It is a provincial regulation (B.C. Regulation 264/2012) that governs new construction, building alterations, repairs and demolitions and is based on the National Building Code of Canada 2010 with some variations specific to BC. The code applies throughout the province, except on federal land, reserves, and the City of Vancouver where the City of Vancouver Building By-Law (Building Bylaw 10908) applies.
The Code is available for purchase in print or electronic formats through the Queen’s Printer. Print copies are available for reference in BC Courthouse libraries and public libraries throughout BC have print and electronic versions (accessible only from within the libraries).
The National Codes on which the BC code is based are model codes, and as such have no legal status unless adopted by an authority having jurisdiction, such as a province, territory or municipality. These model codes are objective-based and meant to promote consistency among provincial and territorial codes, but local authorities may amend or revise the requirements to meet local conditions. In order to stay apace with industry changes and technological advances, new editions of the codes are published roughly every five years. The most recent editions were published in 2015 and include The National Building Code, the National Plumbing Code, the National Fire Code, and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings.
These publications are available for purchase in print and electronic format through National Research Council Canada. BC Courthouse Libraries have print editions from 1980 to 2010, and Vancouver Public Library (VPL) and UBC Library have complete sets dating back to 1941.
Prior to September 1, 1973, local governments adopted a building code under local bylaws. In 1973, an amendment to the Municipal Act (see S.B.C. 1971, c. 38, s. 54) gave the provincial government the power to make regulations establishing a building code (including the plumbing code) for the province through an Order in Council. An amendment to the Act in 1977 (S.B.C. 1977, c. 57, s. 29) eliminated the need for an OIC and gave authority to the Minister of Municipal Affairs to enact the codes through a Minister's Order. Currently, the authority for building regulations belongs to the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing.
As of September 2015, the province makes building regulations under the authority of the Building Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 2. This new legislation is the first act dedicated solely to building and construction in BC and it will be brought in to force over time. The fundamental sections of the act (ss. 1 - 4, 6, 14 - 18, 19 (1), (2), and (3)(a), 20, 21, 39 - 42, 45, 46, 48, 50 - 55, and 58 – 62 ) were first to come into force on September 18, 2015, followed by the consistency sections (ss. 5, 7, 9 and 43), which came into force on December 15, 2015. Sections 8, 10-13, 22-30, 31-38, and 44 are not yet in force. More detailed information about the rationale behind differences in coming into force dates and changes resulting from this legislation can be found on the Province of BC’s Building Codes and Standards webpage where you will find the Building Act Guide.
Building and Safety Standards Branch
Office of Housing and Construction Standards
Ministry of Natural Gas Development
614 Humboldt Street
Victoria BC V8W 1A4
Phone: 250 387 3133
PO Box 9844 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9T2