Potential Increased Costs for Building Official Qualifications

The Province is alerting local governments to potential increased costs, starting in the 2016 fiscal year, resulting from the new mandatory qualifications for building officials in the Building Act.

There are presently no provincially mandated qualifications for building officials, despite the fact that some building officials may have obtained voluntary certification through the Building Officials’ Association of BC (BOABC).  Under the Building Act, building officials will have to be qualified, meaning they will have to:
•    become members of a prescribed professional association (the Province expects this to be the BOABC);
•    pass exams that correspond to the level at which they work;
•    undertake continuing professional development annually; and
•    be listed on the registry of qualified building officials.
The Province expects to delegate administration of building official qualifications to the BOABC.
There will be an overall transition period of four years for building officials to meet the new qualifications.  Once the applicable sections of the Building Act come into force, building officials will have six months from the date the requirements take effect to join the BOABC and start the qualification process.  They will then have an additional three-and-a-half years to meet the exam requirements.
If the building officials local governments employ are not already certified by the BOABC, these new requirements may result in increased costs for them.  The Province anticipates the four-year transition period for the qualification requirements will start in 2016, so there may be a budget impact as early as next year.
Costs will be both one time and annual.  The effects on local governments will vary, depending on whether:
•    they pay the fees for BOABC membership for the building officials they employ;
•    the building officials they employ have already successfully passed any BOABC exams (building officials will not have to rewrite any exams they have already successfully passed through BOABC’s voluntary certification program; however, if they are at Level 1, depending on their responsibilities, they may need to pass additional exams);
•    they pay the training and exam costs for the building officials they employ who have not yet successfully passed the required exams; and
•    they pay the costs of building officials’ continuing professional development.
BOABC has provided an estimate of the one-time and annual costs, based on the assumption that the Province will delegate administration of the qualifications to the BOABC.
The Province has noted that members of the Municipal Insurance Association of British Columbia may be able to access funds available through its Risk Management Grant Program to assist in implementing mandatory qualifications for building officials (i.e., in meeting one-time costs).  Applications for this funding must satisfy the criteria of the Risk Management Grant Program and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  Please contact the Municipal Insurance Association for more information.
The Building and Safety Standards Branch will be providing more information about the qualification requirements closer to the time the applicable sections of the Act come into force—anticipated to be early in 2016.

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