Building Act Update

New provincial qualification requirements for building and plumbing officials established in the Building Act came into force February 28, 2017.  In addition, the Province has amended the Building Act General Regulation to add additional items to the unrestricted matters list.

The building official qualifications are one of three key objectives of the 2015 Act and mark the first time any provincial qualifications have been required for this group of building professionals.

To be qualified, building officials will have to:

  1. Be a member in good standing of the Building Officials’ Association of British Columbia (BOABC);
  2. Pass exams according to the level of their responsibilities;
  3. Undertake annual continuing professional development;
  4. Be entered in the register of qualified building officials; and
  5. Pay an annual fee and submit an annual report to the registrar.

 The qualification requirements will take effect in two steps over four years:

  • On or before August 28, 2017 (i.e., within six months after February 28, 2017), building officials must become members of the BOABC; and
  • On or before February 28, 2021 (i.e., within four years from February 28, 2017), building officials must pass the requisite exams for the class/scope of practice at which they work, and be entered in the register of qualified building officials.

 Under the Building Act, anyone working for or on behalf of a local authority who makes a decision on whether a matter conforms to a provincial building regulation (such as the BC Building Code) must be qualified to do so: the need to be qualified does not depend on job title.  Individuals in three categories are exempt (or temporarily exempt) from the qualification requirements:

  • Members of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia or the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia;
  • Individuals already holding qualifications under the Safety Standards Act; and
  • Individuals making compliance decisions about specific Code-related fire prevention and response, or fire suppression matters.

 The Province has selected the BOABC to administer the new requirements due to their existing role as the professional association for building officials and their expertise in building official education and qualifications.  The Province has designated Derek Townson, the Executive Director of the BOABC, as the registrar.

In addition, the Province has amended the Building Act General Regulation to add additional items to the unrestricted matters list.

Unrestricted matters are matters regulated in the BC Building Code (or other provincial building regulations) for which local governments will retain authority to set their own technical building requirements in bylaws.  Under section 5 of the Building Act, if a matter is regulated in a provincial building regulation, any requirements for that matter established in local government bylaws will be of no legal force after a two-year transition period ending December 15, 2017, unless the requirements concern unrestricted matters.

The Building Act General Regulation came into force June 2016 with an initial list of unrestricted matters.  The amendment adds the following items to that list:

Unrestricted over the Longer Term
a) Protection of Heritage Properties

Temporarily Unrestricted
a) Firefighting Water Supply (Fire-Flow Demand)
b) Flood Construction Level Requirements

Temporarily Unrestricted with Time Limitations
a) Fire Sprinklers and Fire Sprinkler Systems
b) Accessibility of a Building
c) Adaptable Dwelling Units

Items 3a, 3b and 3c in the list above are temporarily unrestricted only if the bylaw(s) specifying the technical building requirement(s) for the matter is enacted on or before December 15, 2017 and is not amended after that date as it relates to the matter.  The Province will advise stakeholders when it intends to remove a matter from the unrestricted matters list.

More information about the new building official requirements and the changes to the unrestricted matters can be found on the on the Building Act website.

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