How does the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC) relate to my building

This British Columbia Building Code applies to any one or more of the following:

  1. the design and construction of a new building,
  2. the occupancy of any building,
  3. the change in occupancy of any building,
  4. an alteration of any building,
  5. an addition to any building,
  6. the demolition of any building,
  7. the reconstruction of any building that has been damaged by fire, earthquake or other cause,
  8. the correction of an unsafe condition in or about any building,
  9. all parts of any building affected by a change in occupancy,
  10. the work necessary to ensure safety in parts of a building
    1. that remain after a demolition,
    2. that are affected by, but that are not directly involved in alterations, or
    3. that are affected by, but not directly involved in additions,
  11. the installation, replacement, or alteration of materials or equipment regulated by this Code,
  12. the work necessary to ensure safety in a relocated building during and after relocation,
  13. safety during construction of a building, including protection of the public,
  14. the design, installation, extension, alteration, renewal or repair of plumbing systems, and
  15. the alteration, rehabilitation and change of occupancy of heritage buildings.

This British Columbia Building Code does not apply to:

  1. sewage, water, electrical, telephone, rail or similar public infrastructure systems located in a street or a public transit right of way,
  2. utility towers and poles, television and radio or other communication aerials and towers, except for loads resulting from those located on or attached to buildings,
  3. mechanical or other equipment and appliances not specifically regulated in these regulations,
  4. flood control and hydro electric dams and structures,
  5. accessory buildings less than 10 m2 in building area that do not create a hazard, (For example a small shed)
  6. temporary buildings such as construction site offices, seasonal storage buildings, special events facilities, emergency facilities, and such similar structures as authorized by the authority having jurisdiction,
  7. factory built housing and components certified by a Standards Council of Canada accredited agency, prior to placement on the site, as complying with Canadian Standards Association Standard A277, "Procedure for Certification of Factory Built Houses," or CAN/CSA-Z240 MH Series, "Mobile Homes," but this exemption does not extend to on site preparations (foundations, basements, mountings), interconnection of modules, connection to services and installation of appliances, and
  8. those areas that are specifically exempted from provincial building regulations or by federal statutes or regulations.

This Code applies both to site-assembled and factory-built buildings. (For example pre-manufactured Homes and Trailers)

The British Columbia Building Code applies the same requirements to site-built and factory-built houses. However, it can often be difficult determining whether a factory-built house complies with these requirements once it has been delivered to its construction site because many of the wall, roof and floor assemblies are closed in and their components cannot be inspected. CSA Standard CAN/CSA-A277, "Procedure for Certification of Factory-Built Houses", was developed to address this problem. It describes a procedure whereby an independent certification agency can review the quality control procedures of a housing factory and make periodic, unannounced inspections of its products and thus, through suitable labeling, provide assurance to authorities at the final site that those components which cannot be inspected on site comply with the code indicated on the label. It is not a building code, only a procedure for certifying compliance of factory-built components with a building code or other standard. If a factory-built house bears a label of an accredited certification agency indicating that compliance with the British Columbia Building Code has been certified using the A277 procedure, the accepting authority will have some assurance that the hidden components do not need to be inspected again on site.

On the other hand, portions of the CSA-Z240 series of standards on mobile homes do resemble a building code. However, the Shuswap Development and Building Department does not allow CSA-Z240 standard for projects on Shuswap Band land.

Farm buildings shall conform to the requirements in the National Farm Building Code of Canada 1995.

The Alternate Compliance Methods for Heritage Buildings in Table A-1.1.1.1. in Appendix A may be substituted for requirements contained elsewhere in this Code.

Application of this Code

  1. This Code applies to the design, construction and occupancy of all new buildings, and the alteration, reconstruction, demolition, removal, relocation and occupancy of all existing buildings. (See Appendix A of the BCBC)
  2. This Code applies both to site-assembled and factory-built buildings. (See Appendix A of the BCBC)
  3. Farm buildings shall conform to the requirements in the National Farm Building Code of Canada 1995.

Application to Existing Buildings

  1. Where a building is altered, rehabilitated, renovated or repaired, or there is a change in occupancy, the level of life safety and building performance shall not be decreased below a level that already exists. (See Appendix A of the BCBC)

Responsibility of Owner

  1. Neither the granting of a building permit nor the approval of the relevant drawings and specifications nor inspections made by the authority having jurisdiction shall in any way relieve the owner of such building from full responsibility for carrying out the work or having the work carried out in full accordance with the requirements of the British Columbia Building Code.

Your Building Occupancies' Classification

The British Columbia Building Code classifies buildings by both use classification of the occupancy type and building size.

Use group or Use Classification is used to determine which requirements of the BCBC apply to your building. This BCBC requires classification in accordance with every major occupancy for which the building is used or intended to be used. In other words, your building could have more than one major occupancy in a building. For example: you might have a Group F2 Warehouse occupancy at the back of the building and a Group D Office occupancy at the front of the building.

The following is a list of types of use classifications and examples of occupancy types within those use groups.

Group A, Division 1
  • Motion picture theatres
  • Opera houses
  • Television studios admitting a viewing audience
  • Theatres, including experimental theatres
Group A, Division 2
  • Art galleries
  • Auditoria
  • Bowling alleys
  • Churches and similar places of worship
  • Clubs, nonresidential
  • Community halls
  • Courtrooms
  • Dance halls
  • Exhibition halls (other than classified in Group E)
  • Gymnasia
  • Lecture halls
  • Libraries
  • Licensed beverage establishments
  • Museums
  • Passenger stations and depots
  • Recreational piers
  • Restaurants
  • Schools and colleges, nonresidential
  • Undertaking premises
Group A, Division 3
  • Arenas
  • Indoor swimming pools, with or without spectator seating
  • Rinks
Group A, Division 4
  • Amusement park structures (not elsewhere classified)
  • Bleachers
  • Grandstands
  • Reviewing stands
  • Stadia
Group B, Division 1
  • Jails
  • Penitentiaries
  • Police stations with detention quarters
  • Prisons
  • Psychiatric hospitals with detention quarters
  • Reformatories with detention quarters
Group B, Division 2
  • Children's custodial homes
  • Convalescent homes
  • Hospitals
  • Infirmaries
  • Nursing homes
  • Orphanages
  • Psychiatric hospitals without detention quarters
  • Reformatories without detention quarters
  • Sanitoria without detention quarters
Group C
  • Apartments
  • Boarding houses
  • Clubs, residential
  • Colleges, residential
  • Convents
  • Dormitories
  • Hotels
  • Houses
  • Lodging houses
  • Monasteries
  • Motels
  • Schools, residential
Group D
  • Banks
  • Barber and hairdressing shops
  • Beauty parlours
  • Dental offices
  • Dry cleaning establishments, self-service, not using flammable or explosive solvents or cleaners
  • Laundries, self-service
  • Medical offices
  • Offices
  • Police stations without detention quarters
  • Radio stations
  • Small tool and appliance rental and service establishments
Group E
  • Department stores
  • Exhibition halls
  • Markets
  • Shops
  • Stores
  • Supermarkets
Group F, Division 1
  • Bulk plants for flammable liquids
  • Bulk storage warehouses for hazardous substances
  • Cereal mills
  • Chemical manufacturing or processing plants
  • Distilleries
  • Dry cleaning plants
  • Feed mills
  • Flour mills
  • Grain elevators
  • Lacquer factories
  • Mattress factories
  • Paint, varnish and pyroxylin product factories
  • Rubber processing plants
  • Spray painting operations
  • Waste paper processing plants
Group F, Division 2
  • Aircraft hangars
  • Box factories
  • Candy plants
  • Cold storage plants
  • Dry cleaning establishments not using flammable or explosive solvents or cleaners
  • Electrical substations
  • Factories
  • Freight depots
  • Helicopter landing areas on roofs
  • Laboratories
  • Laundries, except self-service
  • Mattress factories
  • Planing mills
  • Printing plants
  • Repair garages
  • Salesrooms
  • Service stations
  • Storage rooms
  • Television studios not admitting a viewing audience
  • Warehouses
  • Wholesale rooms
  • Woodworking factories
  • Workshops
Group F, Division 3
  • Creameries
  • Factories
  • Laboratories
  • Power plants
  • Salesrooms
  • Sample display rooms
  • Storage garages, including open air parking garages
  • Storage rooms
  • Warehouses
  • Workshops



Determining your building's size

After determining you Use Classification or multiple Use Classifications, we then look at size of the building.

Where a building contains only one occupancy we look at the entire building size or building area. Building area is defined as the greatest horizontal area of a building above grade within the outside surface of exterior walls or within the outside surface of exterior walls and the centre line of firewalls.

If a building contains more than one occupancy the individual occupancies may require fire separations or firewalls between them to protect one occupancy from fire in another occupancy. Where a firewall divides a building, each portion of the building so divided shall be considered as a separate building, except when this requirement is specifically modified in other parts of this Code. (Contact the Shuswap Development and Building Department for assistance with multiple occupancies if you are not familiar with the BCBC.)

The BCBC classifies buildings into basically two different classifications. These classifications are Part 3 building and Part 9 buildings. Part 3 and Part 9 are simply different sections of the building code that apply to different types and sizes of buildings.

Application of Part 9 (Smaller Buildings)

Part 9 of Division B applies to all buildings of 3 storeys or less in building height, having a building area not exceeding 600 m2, and used for major occupancies classified as

  1. Group C, residential occupancies
    (See Appendix Note A-9.1.1.1.(1). of Division B),
  2. Group D, business and personal services occupancies,
  3. Group E, mercantile occupancies, or
  4. Group F, Divisions 2 and 3, medium- and low-hazard industrial occupancies.
Application of Parts 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Larger and/or more complex buildings)

Parts 3, 4, 5, and 6 of Division B apply to all buildings described in Article 1.1.1.1. and

  1. classified as post-disaster buildings,
  2. used for major occupancies classified as
    1. Group A, assembly occupancies,
    2. Group B, care or detention occupancies, or
    3. Group F, Division 1, high-hazard industrial occupancies, or
  3. exceeding 600 m2 in building area or exceeding 3 storeys in building height used for major occupancies classified as
    1. Group C, residential occupancies,
    2. Group D, business and personal services occupancies,
    3. Group E, mercantile occupancies, or
    4. Group F, Divisions 2 and 3, medium- and low-hazard industrial occupancies.

Parts 4, 5 and 6 of Division B are as follows;

  • Part 4 - Structural Design
  • Part 5 - Environmental Separation
  • Part 6 - Heating and Ventilation and Air Conditioning


Professional Involvement and the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC)

The requirements for Professional Involvement of the BCBC applies to an owner who applies for a building permit for

  1. a building that falls within the scope of Part 3 in Division B,
  2. structural components of buildings that fall within the scope of
    Part 4 in Division B (See Appendix A.), or
  3. a building that is designed with common egress systems for the occupants and requires the use of firewalls according to Article 1.3.3.4. of Division A.

In other word, if your building falls under Part 3 of the BCBC due to its size or use of occupancy you require professional involvement.

Most buildings that fall under Part 9 also require professional involvement. However, there are a number of types of buildings that may not require professional involvement. Such building might be;

  1. a single family or duplex dwelling unit
  2. an apartment or residential building that contain less that 5 dwelling units,
  3. a hotel or similar occupancy containing less than 11 guest rooms,
  4. a commercial or industrial building or combination of both with other occupancies, less than 470m2 gross area, being the aggregate area of all floors,
  5. a one storey building for public assembly, less than 275m2 where the supported span is less than 9m,
  6. a one storey building for public assembly, if the gross area does not exceed 235m2.

This provides a general overview of buildings where professional involvement may not be required.

Additional information from the Achitectural Institute of British Columbia (A.I.B.C.)

Upon review of your proposed building design, the Shuswap Development and Building Department may determine, at their discretion, that the building is complicated and requires professional involvement. For example, if your house is designed with larger structural timber components or log components, it is likely the Shuswap Development and Building Department will require those components to be designed under Part 4 of the BCBC, which requires professional involvement.

Basically, if the components within your design as not defined by Part 9 of the BCBC, it is likely you will require professional involvement for those components.

What Does Professional Involvement Mean ?

Owner Responsibilities for Building Requiring Professional Involvement

Before an owner obtains a building permit from the Shuswap Development and Building Department, the owner shall

  1. retain a coordinating registered professional to coordinate all design work and field reviews of the registered professionals required for the project in order to ascertain that (See Appendix A of the BCBC)
    1. the design will substantially comply with the British Columbia Building Code and other applicable enactments respecting safety, and
    2. the construction of the project will substantially comply with the British Columbia Building Code and other applicable enactments respecting safety, not including the construction safety aspects, and
  2. deliver to the authority having jurisdiction letters, in the forms set out in Schedules A, B-1 and B-2. (See the end of Division C of the BCBC) (See Appendix A of the BCBC)

Before an owner obtains an occupancy permit or final inspection from the Shuswap Development and Building Department, the owner shall deliver to that authority letters in the forms set out in Schedules C-A and C-B. (See Appendix A of the BCBC)

Registered Professional's Responsibilities

(See Appendix A of the BCBC)

A registered professional who signs a letter, the form of which is set out in a schedule to this Section, and an owner who signs or has an agent sign a letter the form of which is a set out in a schedule to this Section, shall comply with this Section and the provisions of the letter that apply to the person signing.

A registered professional or coordinating registered professional who is responsible for a field review shall keep a record of the field review and of any corrective action taken as a result of the field review and shall make the record available to the Shuswap Development and Building Department on the request of their authority.

A registered professional who is retained to undertake design work and field reviews and who is required to provide letters pursuant to Clause 2.2.7.2.(1)(b) shall

  1. place his or her professional seal or stamp on the plans submitted by him or her in support of the application for the building permit, after ascertaining that they substantially comply with the British Columbia Building Code and other applicable enactments respecting safety,
  2. provide to the Shuswap Development and Building Department the Schedule C-B (See the end of Division C) after ascertaining that the components of the project for which the registered professional is responsible are constructed so as to substantially comply, in all material respects, with
    1. the plans and supporting documents, and
    2. the requirements of the British Columbia Building Code and other applicable enactments respecting safety, not including construction safety aspects, and
  3. ensure that the field reviews that are necessary to comply with Clause (b) are properly completed.

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The above is a basic overview of the BCBC requirements.
For further information please contact the Shuswap Development and Building Department