Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

The B.C. government has announced changes to the building code that expand options for secondary suites in multi-family buildings.

The change will give local governments the choice to allow secondary suites in side-by-side multi-family buildings such as duplexes, townhouses and row housing.

The changes do not apply to apartment-style buildings where units are above or below each other.

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing, while ensuring buildings in B.C. meet health, safety and energy-efficiency standards.

Size restrictions for secondary suites are also being removed from the provincial building code, which applies throughout B.C. except for some federal lands and the City of Vancouver.

The provincial code does not set a minimum size, which means local governments may set their own restrictions for secondary suites.

ALSO READ: B.C. gets top marks in national energy efficiency report card

David Hutniak, chief executive officer of LandlordBC, says he supports the move because those secondary suites represent about two-thirds of all rental housing.

“We need more homes, more rental homes, and we’re not building tonnes of purpose-built rental, which is really what we would like to see more of,” he said.

It will be up to municipalities to decide whether to embrace the changes and amend zoning and development bylaws to allow the secondary suites.

Earlier this year, the province also announced it was changing the building code to allow 12-storey wood buildings, up from the previous limit of six storeys.

Mass timber construction refers to buildings in which the primary load-bearing structure is made of solid or engineered wood. It has a reduced carbon footprint when the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests, and these buildings can be one-fifth the weight of comparable concrete structures, the ministry says.

The province has also introduced new requirements for public-sector buildings as part of its energy step code, a voluntary standard for energy efficiency that local governments and builders can opt in to. Rather than specifying how to construct a building, the energy step code identifies an efficiency target and allows the builder to decide how to meet it.

There are now energy step code requirements for hospitals, schools, community centres and university classrooms, in part of an effort to make new buildings in B.C. net-zero energy ready by 2032, the province says

The changes to the B.C. building code are set to apply to building permit applications on or after Dec. 12.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Public art budgets could be used for gardens, Abbotsford councillor suggests

‘Gardens really are art,’ Coun. Brenda Falk says

SLIDESHOW: Chilliwack firefighters battle large blaze at Rosedale chicken barn Friday

Majority of birds saved but buildings on Castleman Road destroyed by fire

Plainclothes Abbotsford police officer deletes cellphone video after drawing gun on innocent man

‘They never asked me what I was doing there, strictly came out with guns, threatening to shoot me’

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read