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Why doesn’t Ottawa seek industry sponsors so that National Building Code can be FREE for EVERYONE to read?

Contractor Randy Elliott asks a good question: If the Criminal Code is available free online, why isn't the National Building Code of Canada?


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July 20, 2018 by Steve Payne

It’s been a couple years since we last asked the simple question: Why do contractors have to PAY to access the National Building Code of Canada?

It occurs to us, if there are such huge costs involved in printing and distributing the NBC, why doesn’t Ottawa seeks sponsors? 

How much would an insulation firm pay to have an ad on the inside front cover of the National Building Code? You’d think… a decent amount of money, no?

For those hardcore Marxists out there who object to the private sector getting ANY piece of a government project, perhaps they might want to consider than Karl Marx himself – who rarely worked a day job – was sponsored pretty well his whole life by Friedrich Engels, whose father owned a big textile mill. If sponsorship was good enough for Karl Marx, it should be good enough for the unionized bureaucrats who put the NBC together. No?

Here’s another comment from a contractor about the NBC…

Just another government gouge. The government is saying, re: the National Building Code, “Do what we demand AND pay us for the privilege to dance to our bureaucratic orders.” Gouge, not service. What happened to “service” in government?

40 years in my trade, 35 years in business, today I go to look up codes online in Canada for a better building product and I have to pay hundreds dollars to provide a better quality product for my clients and for government compliance in code? What next, should I have to pay for criminal codes, too? Should I have to pay for the privilege of staying out of jail? This is not an extreme exaggeration. Which gouging Canadian government brought this Building Code gouge in? WOW!

Randy Elliott


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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1 Comment » for Why doesn’t Ottawa seek industry sponsors so that National Building Code can be FREE for EVERYONE to read?
  1. Jan Loimand says:

    It is understandable that print copies of any of the building codes, both federal and provincial, and for all of the trades, e.g., electrical and plumbing, would not be free.

    Printing and distribution continue to become more expensive, and therefore they should not be free.

    However, the costs associated with production of on-line PDF versions are much lower, but are still relatively expensive.

    Many homeowners prefer to do their own repairs, but I suspect few will purchase the code books. And if they do an ‘in-kind’ repair or replacement, there is the probability that it will not be up to the current code.

    A contractor should have little difficult in paying for the codes, as should a homeowner building his own home. The cost of the codes are a drop in the bucket when building a dwelling.

    The individuals who suffer the most from the costs associated with buying the codes, or any CSA publications are individuals who are repairing or renovating their own homes.

    Perhaps there should be a publication that covers the relevant codes for buildings that are less complex. Homeowners are not building apartment buildings or installing much more than a 200A service entrance.

    It would also be useful for those who are having a contractor build their home, so they don’t have to rely on the quality of any inspections.

    I have observed coax and cat cable stapled, and coax installed that has a bend radius less than the manufacturers’ specifications. I have observed oversized speaker cable being installed, e.g., 14 gauge when 16 or 18 gauge would have been more than adequate.
    And installed by ‘professionals’, i.e., electricians.

    In other words, consolidated codes that are suitable for the scope of work that is plsnned, instead of the individual codes that include work that is way beyond the scope of work that is planned.