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Home builders' association wants P.E.I. government to delay National Building Code updates

The 2020 National Building Code is set to roll out Island-wide on March 31, 2024. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)
The 2020 National Building Code is set to roll out Island-wide on March 31, 2024. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News - image credit)

The Canadian Home Builders' Association of P.E.I. is asking the province for more time to implement the 2020 National Building Code that is set to take effect on March 31, 2024.

"As an organization, we definitely support the implementation of the 2020 code," said Alicia Packwood, the association's executive director.

"It's just [that] the speed in which the province is asking it to happen is very quick."

The Island was the last province to adopt the 2015 national model, which it still uses. But on Friday, the provincial government announced the updated 2020 code would take effect soon — and with it, new rules to improve accessibility and energy efficiency.

"Building codes ensure the health, safety and security of buildings, people and the community," said P.E.I. Minister of Housing, Land and Communities Rob Lantz in a news release.

"The adoption of the 2020 national model codes will bring Prince Edward Island up to date on the most current codes available for building safety."

'Should have been well aware'

Starting next month, new construction and renovations will have to follow the updated version, while projects currently underway still fall under the 2015 code.

However, Packwood said the implementation date caught some of its members off guard. The association is calling for a couple more months before making the change.

"I right away started getting emails from [members]," she said.

"They're working with jam-packed schedules and in order to even fit in thinking about the code changes is, I know, very stressful for them."

Implementing the code changes could be 'very stressful' for builders, especially those booking builds in advance, says the association's executive director Alicia Packwood. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC News)

But Lantz said Tuesday that the association was notified about the date of the change during a meeting last year.

"This has been in the works for quite some time and everyone should have been well aware," said Lantz.

"So why it came as a surprise, I'm not sure."

More training needed

According to Packwood, pushing back the date would give members more time to get ready and ensure they have the proper training.

"The code is a very large document. It's not necessarily easy to digest," she said.

"It can be kind of black-and-white in some areas and grey in others. So it's important to take this education so that you really understand the code."

Minister of Housing, Land and Communities Rob Lantz says he's aware of some 'extraordinarily large' housing projects on the horizon for Charlottetown.
Minister of Housing, Land and Communities Rob Lantz says he's aware of some 'extraordinarily large' housing projects on the horizon for Charlottetown.

Minister of Housing, Land and Communities Rob Lantz says he is open to speaking with the association for smooth implementation. (Tony Davis/CBC)

On top of that, Packwood said with some builders pricing projects up to two years in advance, there are concerns those could be impacted.

"Code changes are going to come with cost changes and that is something that the builders will have to deal with with their clients," she said.

"[Pushing the timing back] is more just to get those changes figured out."

Still, Lantz said there was a lot of analysis done on the new code and there should be no additional costs, but he is open to speaking with the association about smooth implementation.

As for Packwood, she said she is excited about some of the updates in the new code, she is just hoping her members can have a little longer to adjust.

"I think we're seeing some positive changes it's just the timing and the changes," she said.

"We just want a little bit more time for training in order to properly implement the code changes in a way that we feel comfortable that our builders are going to be building to the 2020 code without any problems or challenges."