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Victoria builders blast BC Step Code: “will add up to $80,000 in unnecessary cost”

August 29, 2017

The new BC Energy Step Code will add up to $80,000 to the cost of a new single-family house and will make a minimal impact on energy efficiency, according to the Victoria Residential Builders Association (VRBA).
The Step Code is an amendment to the BC Building Code announced this April. Local governments around B.C. are expected to implement the energy-saving changes. The Step Code is slated to come into force starting December 1, 2017.
The new code is designed to reduce the number of air changes — the number of times a home needs to be heated per hour.
But Casey Edge, executive director of the VRBA, said because it only targets new builds, which are already being built to high energy efficiency standards, there’s a lot of added cost without a lot of benefit.

Casey Edge, executive director of the
Victoria Residential Builders Association.

“For an additional $26,000 [on the cost of building an average Victoria house] you get to knock off half an air change, for an additional $58,000 you can knock off two air changes compared to what we can do now,” he told Home BUILDER.
The VRBA notes that a typical 2,000-square-foot house in Victoria costs $200 per square foot (or $400,000) to build and that the Step Code will add 20 per cent (or $80,000) to the cost.
The government is claiming the cost to build to the Step Code standard would add four per cent to the overall cost of a new home.
Edge said the additional cost is likely to be wrapped into a mortgage and therefore will end up costing new homebuyers a lot more over the years.
“In some cases they’ll never get their money back,” Edge said, noting the energy savings are unlikely to balance off the added expense.
Victoria’s Capital Regional District is doing a survey on behalf of the region’s municipalities to get feedback from builders on how ready they are for the Step Code, and to determine what support may be needed to implement the change. The survey ends September 15.
Edge said implementation of the new code is a problem.
As initially proposed, the Step Code would allow each of the province’s 162 municipalities the choice of which tier of the code to adopt.
“This implementation creates confusion, multiple building practices, undermines a uniform code and deviates from B.C.’s agreement with Ottawa to harmonize with the National Building Code,” Edge said in his letter to the premier.


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