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P.E.I. last province to fully adopt National Building Code standards

Don Procter
P.E.I. last province to fully adopt National Building Code standards
Pictured is construction taking place on a home in P.E.I. The province is set to join the rest of Canada by adopting the National Building Code, which will have the greatest impact on residential construction in rural areas. -

Prince Edward Island is poised to adopt the National Building Code (NBC), the last province in Canada to do so.

"The ultimate goal is to get everybody on the same page…contractors, whether they are from eastern P.E.I. or western P.E.I., will be building to the same methods and the same standards," says Sam Sanderson, general manager for the Construction Association of Prince Edward Island (CAPEI). "It’s very important."

The NBC will have the biggest impact on rural residential contractors. The cities of Summerside, Charlottetown and Stratford adopted the code years ago.

Sanderson says once every couple of weeks he gets a call from an owner concerned about their home’s construction methods or materials.

"I’ve certainly seen buildings that have not been framed properly — a two-storey barn or garage for example — that didn’t meet code but they were outside the areas that followed the NBC," he explains.

For those owners, there was little they could do because there was no code for the builder to follow.

"Having the NBC gives a level of protection for the homeowner, the financial institutions and the contractors themselves," he says.

The NBC has passed second reading in the legislature and is expected to become law for all commercial contractors in the province Jan. 1, 2018. The residential sector will follow two years later.

"That allows the rural contractor time to get familiar with the building code and hopefully take some training," Sanderson adds.

Up until now, all builders were required to follow was a life safety code, which includes installing proper fire exits for instance, he says.

Under the NBC, there will be a fixed amount of inspections per build. That might be as many as five inspections. More inspections will be required for commercial projects.

Sanderson says the CAPEI, the provincial government and Holland College are working on a training platform to ensure contractors are up to speed on NBC standards.

He says one of the reasons the province hadn’t adopted the code is that small rural communities in P.E.I. don’t have staff to ensure builders were in compliance.

Sanderson says word on the street is that most contractors are pleased with the move because it puts them on a level playing field.

"You will be pricing to build the same way with the same materials without corners being cut because of inspections," he says.

Building supply companies are on board in part because the code ensures more builders install their products in accordance with the warranty.

"They have been getting complaints because some of their products haven’t been installed properly," Sanderson adds.

The code will add costs to construction and inspections are expected to hike up the price of homes, but Sanderson doesn’t expect that number to be significant.

He says it is a price homeowners should be willing to pay because it ensures construction meets a national standard.

"At the end of the day they will be getting a better bang for their dollar," he says.

The National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings 2015 is a key part of the code because energy designs are especially important to the industry, the environment and owners, Sanderson says.

He states the association has been lobbying for the implementation of the NBC for about 10 years. The NBC was adopted in Charlottetown in 2008.

Along with the CAPEI, the province, associations of professional engineers and architects, and the Federation of Prince Edward Island Municipalities have been part of the building standards council committee to bring the NBC to the province.

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