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Tell us if you ever refer to the National Building Code of Canada – and you might win a $100 gas card

The National Building Code of Canada has no legal weight on its own. Only if your province or local municipality has used parts of the code, must you comply with them. We want to know if you find the NBC a useful document.


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May 22, 2014 by Steve Payne

The National Building Code (NBC) of Canada has no legal status unless your particular province or jurisdiction has decided to use parts of it for their “own” legislation.

You can thank John A. Macdonald and his visionary colleagues for that.  When Canada became a real country in 1867, under the British North America Act, it was decided that the provinces – not Ottawa – would decide on their own building codes. But in the 1940s, the National Building Code was developed as a model code for these various jurisdictions to borrow from.

Having said all this, we want to know if you have used the NBC, as a document, at any time.

You’ll see a poll to the right of this article. You can tell us what use you make of the NBC in that poll.

If you’d like to go further, and tell us what you think of the NBC as a useful document, BELOW, in a post, you might win a $100 gas card. We will draw one name at random, no matter what you say about the code.

So let us know.


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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11 Comments » for Tell us if you ever refer to the National Building Code of Canada – and you might win a $100 gas card
  1. Helene Kommel says:

    I have never read anything in the OBC that referenced the NBCC for something I actually needed to know.

  2. Yvan Labbe says:

    Yes I have used the National Building Codes. I would use it a lot more often if I did not have to pay for it. As far as I am concerned it should be available online free of charge so that people can refer to it. If not free you should be able to pay a bit to get to read different sections or pay so much per day to use it.

  3. safwat ahmed says:

    I Always check the NBC when it comes to safety, considering personal life,building, my line of work related to gas, electrical, water

  4. Steve zimmer says:

    I don’t use the NBC very often, I’m an electrician, but there are articles in the code that we still need to know because they are not in the CEC anymore.

  5. Ryan says:

    i think it should be available to licensed contractors ONLY… to many handy homeowners think they know what they are doing.. if they get the code book they are god…. and they don’t know how to interpret it either properly…. its like giving a someone who has their small aircraft pilot a license to fly 200 people in a boing commercial airplane…..
    its there to provide information to build homes safe and prevent people from getting hurt…. on that note… i feel contractors who do not do their due diligence should be held responsible for something that happens and someone gets hurt to many people play dumb and say well i found it online, or i got it out of the book…. back to common sense as well… just my opinion…

  6. Paul Rutkus says:

    Copyright Paul Rutkus 2015

    Yes, I relied on the National Building Code of Canada in unique areas where the federal government has decided that provincial building codes may not apply and in other circumstances which predated provincial building codes.

    Exceptions where the NBCC is/was applied include such locations/facilities as National Parks, National Defence Establishments, Indian Reservations, Coast Guard stations (e.g. lighthouses), Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachments, Customs/Immigration facilities, Penitentiaries, Parliament Hill, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Governor General’s residence and other federal and possibly inter-provincial works (such as a building that sits on an interprovincial border so that the building is physically in more than one province).

    The theory is that this authority comes mainly from section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, i.e. the list of federal responsibilities that Sir John A. Macdonald and his contemporaries gave to the federal government.

    Historically, the NBCC also applied in the North West and Yukon Territories which were also deemed federal responsibilities. Also, back when most airports and many sea ports were federally owned facilities the NBCC was also often the legally required standard there.

    Alternatively, the federal government can choose, adopt provincial/territorial building codes for its facilities.

    In most jurisdictions, where a building was originally constructed to the NBCC and is now subject to a provincial / territorial code, it is arguably grandfathered -for purposes of repair- to the NBCC standard applied when it was originally constructed or possibly to no code at all? (This is an interesting potential loophole that may or may not exist…)

    Aside from the federal jurisdictions described, there is also a plethora of early adoption by municipalities across Canada of the NBCC (as early as 1941) as a local by-law requirement before centralised provincial building codes were written (e.g. Ontario did not have a building code act of its own until 1974). Also, much of the post World War II boom in residential construction was financed through the feds Veterans Affairs housing benefits where the construction was tied to NBCC compliance.

    So yes I have had to rely on the NBCC in construction and renovation, and have had to explain to local building inspectors several of the above details.

    Copyright Paul Rutkus 2015

  7. Evan says:

    You can always learn something new. I think every Joe Homeowner should have read the code book who is starting a home project. Find out what is recommended for doing their project right the first, because after they’ve screwed up you wonder what the hell were they thinking.
    When you have to come in and do it right.

  8. Lili says:

    So in 2012 when I worked in Architecture and Engineering Services, we all had copies of NBCC and OBC (Ontario) on our desks. I never thought I’d see the day when I wanted to get my own copies and look at close to 600 for both. I’m no longer with that group- thank you Mr. Harper for screwing the little guy- and I’m trying to get a better job in Facilities Management, so I need one for the exam. But $300 ..? What the hell is wrong with this country ?? Don’t answer that, we’ll never be done in time for my exam 🙂

  9. Francois Stonge says:

    I use it for school in my apprenticeship training

  10. I do have the occasional need to look at something in the NBC that seems to overlap with CSA B-365.

  11. Emily Fitzowich says:

    As we only have one copy of the BCBC in our office I’ll sometimes use old pdfs of the NBCC to reference if I’m looking for a definition or something small while other people are using the BCBC. It’s typically something fairly universal to all the province’s building codes like sometimes I get occupancy classifications mixed up and need to double check them.