The 2018 BC Building Code is the code that is currently in force, effective as of December 10, 2018. 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 12511) applies.
The Code is available free online in electronic format and print copies can be purchased from the Queen's Printer. Print copies are also available for reference in BC Courthouse libraries and public libraries throughout BC.
The National Codes on which the BC code is based are model codes, and as such have no legal status unless adopted by the Province. 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 2020 and include The National Building Code, the National Plumbing Code, the National Fire Code, and the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings.
The National Research Council Canada makes these publications available free in electronic format, with print versions available for purchase. BC Courthouse Libraries have print editions from 1980 to 2020, 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.
As of September 2015, the province makes building regulations under the authority of the Building Act, S.B.C. 2015, c. 2. This legislation is the first act dedicated solely to building and construction in BC, and was intended to streamline how the Building Code is used. The Building Act gives the Province the sole authority to establish building requirements, and establishes mandatory qualifications for local building officials. 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
Phone: 250 387 3133
PO Box 9844 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9T2