Other questions

Question 1:

Are power driven nails addressed in the National Building Code?

Answer to question 1:

Until recently, the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) requirements for nails and other fasteners did not explicitly address nails used in pneumatic fastening tools because the requirements were written before nail guns came into common use. The NBC 2010 was brought up to date in 2012 through the addition of a reference to the ASTM F1667 standard, “Driven Fasteners: Nails, Spikes, and Staples.” This standard, which enables better harmonization with the United States, applies to fasteners driven by hand tools, power tools or mechanical devices that are currently available on the market. Essentially, the nails must comply either with the ASTM F1667 or the CSA B111 standard and, regardless of which standard they comply with, the nails must meet minimum shank diameters specified in Part 9 of the NBC.
The requirements were updated in the NBC 2015 and 2012 revisions to the NBC 2010 are available as a downloadable PDF document by filling in the form on the Revisions and errata to the National Model Construction Codes web page.

Question 2:

The U.S. will dramatically reduce allowable lead content in plumbing products effective January 4, 2014. Will the National Plumbing Code be revised to require low lead products as well?

Answer to question 2:

The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) has considered a request to integrate low-lead content requirements for products addressed in the National Plumbing Code of Canada (NPC) and its Standing Committee on Building and Plumbing Services has a keen interest in maintaining harmonized solutions across North America.
A new edition of the ASME/CSA standard for plumbing supply fittings requiring the same low levels of lead content as that required for U.S. products was published In December 2012. At the same time, the CSA also published a new edition of a standard that addresses plumbing fittings, which is in line with the same low lead content requirements. Since then, the Standing Committee has reviewed the updated plumbing fittings standards and recommended updating the versions currently referenced in the NPC 2010 to reflect the most current editions. As a result, these updates were published as interim changes to the NPC 2010 at the end of 2013. As with all model code changes, it is up to the provincial/territorial regulatory authorities to consider when and how to adopt such changes into law.

Question 3:

Why are requirements to protect communities from wildfires not in Codes Canada publications?

Answer to question 3:

Protection of communities from wildfires falls outside of the mandate of Codes Canada publications and currently established Code objectives do not address protection of property from adjacent wild land fires. The Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes (CCBFC) did receive a request to include such requirements in the Codes and input was sought from the provinces and territories. Based on their feedback, the CCBFC decided that the national model codes were not the appropriate mechanism for addressing this issue, as municipalities were in a better position to address it through zoning bylaws. It was noted that some municipalities were following practices introduced by Natural Resources Canada under FireSmart, a program that includes both prevention and mitigation principles to help reduce the risk of wildland fires and protect properties from their devastating effects.

Question 4:

Do the Codes address fire risk associated with houses built close together?

Answer to question 4:

Yes. Additional fire protection requirements have been introduced in the National Building Code of Canada relating to the construction of all buildings and houses that are constructed in proximity to one another or to the property line.
For instance, limiting distances or construction requirements may need to be increased depending on fire department response times. Also, restrictions on the area and the spacing of glazed openings for houses, where the limiting distance is 2 m or less, were introduced. Finally construction types, cladding types and combustible projections such as roof soffits may also require additional protection depending on their location in the exposing building face
These changes may have an impact on all aspects of construction, including how close the homes are constructed to each other, the nature of cladding materials used, and lot sizes in subdivisions.

Question 5:

Do the Codes reflect the new Health Canada guideline for radon exposure?

Answer to question 5:

Yes. The Health Canada guideline of 200 Bq/m3 for indoor radon concentration has been referenced in the Part 9 Appendix of the National Building Code of Canada (NBC). Engineers and designers are now required to consider radon protection in their designs. Air barrier requirements in Part 9 of the NBC have also been consolidated, and prescriptive measures on providing a rough-in for a future radon mitigation system have been added.

Question 6:

How do the Codes address a sustainable built environment?

Answer to question 6:

Sustainability is not an explicit objective of the national model codes. However, many code provisions contribute to a more sustainable built environment and are written with an effort to not create a barrier to future innovation. Also, Codes Canada publications do not preclude one from proposing innovative technologies as long as it can be demonstrated that these meet or exceed the minimum requirements of the Codes.

Question 7:

Will the use of water be regulated by the national model codes?

Answer to question 7:

New requirements pertaining to water-use efficiency were added to the 2015 edition of the National Plumbing Code (NPC). New code objectives address water-use efficiency, and the development of mandatory requirements limiting the maximum amount of water used by plumbing fixtures such as urinals, and supply fittings such as shower heads.
Enabling requirements for rainwater harvesting systems are being developed for the 2020 edition of the NPC. These proposed requirements would not force the installation of rainwater harvesting systems but instead help ensure that rainwater harvesting systems perform and are configured such that persons will not be harmed by contaminated substances.

Question 8:

The National Farm Building Code dates back to 1995. Will it be updated?

Answer to question 8:

Yes. The CCBFC has made it a priority to update the requirements of the National Farm Building Code of Canada (NFBC), last published in 1995. This decision is supported by the Provincial/Territorial Policy Advisory Committee on Codes (PTPACC) and the Canadian Farm Builders’ Association.
As a result, an update of NFBC requirements into objective based code requirements is currently being conducted. Members from several standing committees formed a joint task group to review and update the provisions and examine the risks and hazards related to farm buildings. The joint task group is working towards introducing technical changes in the 2020 editions of the NBC and NFC.

Question 9:

Are green roofs addressed by the National Building Code of Canada?

Answer to question 9:

Yes. Green roofs are referred to as vegetated roofing systems in Part 5 of the National Building Code of Canada 2015.
To protect against root penetration, the Standard ANSI/GRHC/SPRI VR-1, “Procedure for Investigating Resistance to Root Penetration on Vegetative Roofs” is referenced in Sentence 5.6.1.2.(2).
General guidance on green roofs and their performance is provided in the explanatory noteA-5.6.1.2.(2) by referring code users to the German Landscape Research, Development and Construction Society’s (FLL) “Guidelines for the Planning, Construction and Maintenance of Green Roofing” and to the National Roofing Contractors Association’s “Vegetative Roof Systems Manual.”
Individuals wishing to suggest other Code provisions related to green roofs can submit a code change request online at any time for consideration by the CCBFC’s committees.
Designers can also propose their green roof designs as an alternative solution to their respective provincial/territorial authorities. Manufacturers of green roofs can have their products or systems assessed for code compliance by the NRC Canadian Construction Materials Centre.

Question 10:

What level of earthquake are Canadian buildings supposed to be able to withstand under the National Building Code of Canada 2015?

Answer to question 10:

This question (what magnitude is the building designed for) is commonly asked but, unfortunately, a simple answer cannot be given. Currently in Canada, we design our buildings to withstand a certain level of shaking – the expected shaking from earthquakes that are likely to occur at a probability of 2% in 50 years, which is roughly once in 2,475 years. The effect of a particular earthquake’s shaking on a building depends on the magnitude of the earthquake, its distance from the building, and the building's characteristics. For the three largest cities in Canada, here’s what this means.
In Montreal, the probability of an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 7½ is extremely small, and earthquakes of this size don’t make a large contribution to the seismic hazard. At the National Building Code probability levels, the main contributors to shaking hazard for short structures, such as single family homes, are earthquakes of magnitude 6¼ to 7¼ that are within 40 km. For high-rise structures the main contributors are magnitude 6½ to 7½ earthquakes at distances of 30-60 km.
Similarly, in Toronto the main contributors to shaking hazard for short structures are earthquakes up to magnitude 6 less than 40 km away, while for high-rises the main contributors are magnitude 6 to 7 events no closer than 30 km.
In Vancouver, the expected shaking from three sources of earthquakes is taken into account: those from the continental North American plate; earthquakes in the subducting Juan de Fuca plate (at depths of 40-60 km beneath Vancouver); and the very large, infrequent earthquakes of the Cascadia subduction zone. It is only the Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes that can result in a large magnitude 9 event, comparable to the 2011 Tohoku Japan, earthquake, and they only occur in Canada offshore of Vancouver Island. For Vancouver, this Cascadia event will occur roughly 140 km away, and so its effect is diminished by this distance. The main contributors to shaking at NBC probabilities for Vancouver structures are magnitude 6½ to 7½ at 50-70 km for short structures and magnitude 8½ to 9 at 130-150 km for high-rises.

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