P.E.I. is rolling out the 2015 National Building Code (NBC) — the last province in Canada to do so — in a move that is being applauded by the head of the Construction Association of Prince Edward Island (CAPEI).
“The biggest impact on the island is that it will put builders on the same playing field,” says Sam Sanderson, general manager of CAPEI.
Prior to its adoption, “there has been no (standard) permitting system really in place,” he says, noting that CAPEI has been pushing for the NBC for a number of years.
“We want to meet the same standards in every jurisdiction in the province and in Canada.”
That won’t happen immediately. Rollout of the 2015 NBC commenced in Charlottetown Nov. 1, but builders will be given a four-month grace period to get up to speed on the changes from the 2010 NBC. The energy code section will be adopted later and the entire province will come on stream with the 2015 code Jan. 1, 2020.
Sanderson says CAPEI is presenting training sessions to help builders understand how to use the new code books.
He says one area of the new code that will affect the industry is that it allows for wood residential buildings to have a fifth floor, up from four under the 2010 NBC.
Up to now you could be pricing apples against oranges but now everybody will be pricing apples
— Wade MacDonald
TTK Construction 2016 Ltd.
“We are seeing a couple of developers holding off on a couple of projects until the 2015 code is adopted to allow for that extra storey,” says Sanderson.
“The extra height will help because we’re getting restrictions on land development in Charlottetown,” adds Wade MacDonald, the owner-operator of TTK Construction 2016 Ltd., one of the largest multi-family residential builders in P.E.I.
MacDonald sees the 2015 code edition as good for the industry on the island province because it sets a standard all builders must follow.
“Up to now you could be pricing apples against oranges but now everybody will be pricing apples,” he explains.
TTK is currently building three projects with about 60 units.
MacDonald is not aware if a provincial inspector has been hired yet to oversee projects, but the City of Charlottetown has several inspectors checking construction sites.
“They are becoming stricter with the structural engineers and they (engineers) are paying attention to what we are doing now because they are on the hook for it,” he states.
Sanderson says another reason the new code is good for the industry is it will help weed out contractors in the underground economy.
The construction association general manager says while some municipalities in P.E.I. have building permit systems in place, “they are very vague, with little or no inspections. The life safety code was really the only code being followed that I am aware of.”
MacDonald doesn’t see any negatives to the NBC for the industry.
“It will actually protect the homeowners…It’s a good thing.”
Furthermore, he says, “there are a lot of good builders in the province,” who can benefit from a standard in place.
“Most people take pride in their work here because it is a small community and your name (reputation) can ruin you.”
He says TTK has been building “above the code” standards for years.
Attics are R-60 blow-in insulation, R-20 batt walls plus rigid foam over sheathing.
“We have kind of had our own (building code),” he says. “Our dad, who started the company in 1969, was really fussy.”
The provincewide NBC officially comes into effect for residential construction on Jan. 1, 2020. Prior to Jan. 2018, the 2010 NBC was only followed in Charlottetown, Summerside and Stratford.
MacDonald says construction in Charlottetown and other areas of P.E.I. is brisk.
“In Charlottetown, you have to book a boom truck for concrete a week-and-a-half ahead. It’s hard to get trades to finish stuff,” he says. “The workforce is not here anymore.”