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$2.5 million in building code refunds, free codes on the way

Online versions of the B.C. Building Codes are now available free of charge, and nearly 5,000 people who purchased the code on or after Sept. 5, 2018, will soon get a refund.

“Today’s announcement is a win-win,” said Navdeep Singh Bains, federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “Not only are we returning money to the hard-working students and firms of B.C.’s construction sector and making national building codes free from now on, we are also celebrating the Province’s role in setting the stage for better harmonization under one national standard.”

As of April 1, 2019, electronic versions of the National Building Code of Canada were made available at no cost. The change eliminated the royalties B.C. pays to the federal government for the national codes. The refunds for B.C.’s codes are the result of an agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province to pass these savings on to British Columbians.

“Our government is working hard to make sure programs and services are affordable and accessible for all British Columbians,” said Jinny Sims, Minister of Citizens’ Services, at an event at BCIT. “Today, we’re giving $2.5 million back to British Columbians and making it easier for students, contractors, businesses and local governments to access these important codes for their studies and work – work that helps grow local economies and create good-paying jobs.”

B.C. is now refunding the full purchase amount to anyone who bought an online subscription of the codes and offering a substantial refund for those who purchased a printed copy. Going forward, the Province will offer free digital versions of the codes and printed copies will be available at a reduced rate. This move marks another step forward as the B.C. government works to make life more affordable for everyone who lives and works in the province.

“Our government is committed to addressing affordability for all students. We are lowering financial barriers for students at the 15 institutions across B.C. where knowledge of building codes is an essential requirement of their training and education,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “When classes start next month, students will save close to 70% on printed copies of the codes, while digital access will be cost-free.”

Building codes establish the minimum standard for the design and construction of buildings, supporting the safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection of buildings, along with energy and water efficiency. Typical users of building codes include industry and trades professionals, students enrolled in construction-related programs, building inspectors and other municipal officials and homeowners.


“The B.C. Council of Post Secondary Library Directors is very pleased that we can now provide free and open access to B.C. Building Codes to our users,” said Sybil Harrison, past president of the B.C. Council of Post Secondary Library Directors. “By removing financial and structural barriers to access, students, instructors and job-site mentors will be better equipped to interact with this key learning resource. Knowing how to access and use information is perhaps the most important tool for trades and other students as they enter the workforce.”

Quick Facts:

  • The B.C. Building Code is a provincial regulation that governs how new construction, building alterations, repairs and demolitions must be done.
    • It is based on the national code, with some modifications specific to B.C.
    • The B.C. Ministry of Citizens’ Services is responsible for selling the codes, while the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for keeping the codes up to date.
  • The new BC Building Code 2018, which is based on the Government of Canada’s National Building Code 2015, was published in September 2018 and took effect in December 2018.
  • The Government of Canada and the Province are refunding approximately $2.5 million in total: $1.875 million from Canada and $625,000 from B.C. Refund cheques will be mailed over the next four to six weeks.

Learn More:

For access to free online codes, visit the B.C. publications site:

To learn more about the B.C. codes 2018, visit:

B.C. Building Code 2018:

B.C. Fire Code 2018:

B.C. Plumbing Code 2018:

To learn more about Codes Canada publications, visit:

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