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Building Code Overview

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The Building Code Act and the Building Code

The Building Code Act, 1992, governs the construction, renovation, change of use, and demolition of buildings. It also provides specific powers for inspectors and rules for the inspection of buildings, and allows municipalities to establish property standard by-laws.

For more details on the roles and responsibility of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and municipalities, see Provincial and Municipal Roles Fact Sheet.

The Building Code is a regulation made under the Building Code Act. It:

  • focuses primarily on ensuring public safety in newly constructed buildings, but also supports the government’s commitments to energy conservation, barrier-free accessibility and economic development
  • sets out objectives and requirements for new construction
  • does not provide standards for existing buildings, with the exception of small on-site sewage systems
  • establishes the qualification and registration requirements in Ontario for certain building practitioners [1]

History

The first provincial Building Code Act was proclaimed in 1974 and the first Building Code regulation took effect in 1975.

Ontario’s 2012 Building Code came into effect on January 1, 2014.

Since then, the Building Code has been amended to keep pace with new standards and technologies. For instance, in 1988, Ontario amended the Building Code to incorporate the requirements of Canadian Standards Association (CSA) S413 standard for the design and construction of new parking structures. Ontario continues to work with the CSA on the standard for parking garages and the Building Code has been amended to reflect revised CSA standard requirements.

The Building Code is updated approximately every five years. Ontario’s Building Code is largely harmonized with the model national construction codes. These national codes set guidelines that can be adopted as regulations by provinces to promote consistent construction standards throughout Canada. The development of these national codes is coordinated through a federal/provincial/territorial development process. 

Ontario regularly reviews and amends the Building Code to reflect changes in technology, address emerging public safety issues and to achieve government priorities. In addition Ontario’s Building Code has some requirements that exceed those of the national codes to reflect provincial needs and circumstances.  For example, Ontario recently amended the Building Code to:

  • allow mid-rise wood buildings to be constructed up to six storeys to support increased affordable construction options and the forestry sector
  • enhance barrier-free requirements for buildings to support accessibility

[1] Building practitioners subject to qualification requirements include a municipal building official, a designer excluding architects and professional engineers, an on-site sewage system installer, a design firm and a Registered Code Agency. Architects and professional engineers are governed by their own professional bodies and are not subject to qualifications under the Building Code Act and Building Code. ^