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Navigating the 2024 Ontario Building Code

regulations in the construction sector
regulations in the construction sector

Navigating the 2024 Ontario Building Code

Information and news on the construction sectorNavigating the 2024 Ontario Building Code

On April 10th, the Ontario government introduced its newest Building Code, signaling a significant step towards simplifying regulations in the construction sector. This update aims to make it easier for the industry to navigate compliance requirements while ensuring that safety and performance standards remain uncompromised. By reducing regulatory hurdles, the revised Building Code seeks to facilitate smoother construction processes and promote housing development in the province.

While that all sounds straightforward enough, we at Reno Quotes know that building codes can often be difficult to navigate. So, to help facilitate this transitional period towards the 2024 Ontario Building Code, we've devised this article to shoulder some of that burden and simplify its key points. Here's what you need to know.

What Is the Ontario Building Code Concerned With?

construction workers 

The Ontario Building Code, regulated by the Building Code Act, sets forth detailed requirements and minimum standards for construction projects. It prioritises public safety, fire protection, resource conservation, environmental integrity, and accessibility. Its core objective is to uphold uniform building standards to promote public safety.

What's the Latest Ontario Building Code Update for 2024?

construction machine

The 2024 Building Code aims to simplify procedures within the construction industry and align more closely with the National Building Code. By addressing over 1,730 technical differences between provincial and national requirements, it seeks to promote greater consistency and efficiency.

Developed in collaboration with key stakeholders such as building officials, fire prevention authorities, architects, engineers, builders, and industry representatives, this latest iteration of the Building Code underscores Ontario's commitment to upholding stringent standards of public health, safety, and building performance in both new constructions and renovations.

Details about the release of the 2024 Building Code were communicated through CodeNews (issue 354), an email subscription service offering updates on the code, ministerial rulings, amendments to the Building Code Act, decisions from the Building Code Commission, and authorisations from the Building Materials Evaluation Commission. While key information, including transition schedules, is outlined below, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) strongly recommends that all its members subscribe to this email publication for comprehensive updates.

New Building Code Format

In quite a dramatic shift, the entire format of the Ontario Building Code is getting revamped; it has been reduced to only a singular page. This single page references, for one, the National Building Code of Canada (NBC) 2020 — a 1,500-page document outlining the technical specifications for designing and constructing new buildings, as well as guidelines for modifying, repurposing, or demolishing existing structures. The Building Code also now references the new 2024 Ontario Amendment document for the differences to the NBC in Ontario.

Production of digital and print copies of the Building Code Compendium are currently underway. CodeNews subscribers will be the first notified when they are made available. The OAA will also notify its members.

Transition Timeline

The announcement of the new Building Code on April 10th, 2024, marks a significant development in Ontario's construction landscape. However, its implementation won't occur until January 1st, 2025. Following this date, a transitional phase lasting three months, until March 31st, 2025, will allow for the acceptance of applications with substantially complete drawings. Come April 1st, 2025, all permit applications must align with the regulations outlined in the updated 2024 Ontario Building Code. This transition period offers stakeholders time to adjust to the new requirements before full enforcement takes effect.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) is creating a thorough training program to aid the industry in grasping the new regulations of the 2024 Ontario Building Code. Additionally, the Ontario Association of Architects is collaborating with industry partners via Engineers, Architects & Building Officials (EABO) to develop comprehensive education and training sessions that unite key users of the Code in understanding the changes, implementation strategies, and transition rules. A dedicated session will be held at the OAA Conference in Niagara Falls in May to address these topics.

Here is a quick summary of important dates:

  • April 10th, 2024: Filing and release of the 2024 Ontario Building Code.

  • January 1st, 2025: 2024 Ontario Building Code comes into effect.

  • March 31st, 2025: Deadline for permit applications using the 2012 Ontario Building Code where working drawings were substantially complete before January 1, 2025.

  • April 1st, 2025: All permits must use the 2024 Ontario Building Code.

Summary of the 2024 Ontario Building Code's Key Points

three person in front of a cumputer on a construction site 

As a first change to the Building Code, Ontario has taken significant strides towards alignment with the National Building Code's regulations for two-unit houses, bringing them in line with secondary suite provisions, albeit with a notable exception regarding minimum suite sizes. Ontario's decision to retain flexibility in this aspect underscores its commitment to meeting housing objectives while also minimising associated costs.

Moreover, the province has introduced a groundbreaking amendment to the Building Code, mirroring the NBC's guidelines for large farm buildings. This pivotal change addresses regulatory gaps and modernises standards to reflect evolving agricultural practices, all the while upholding stringent safety measures akin to those applied to conventional buildings.

The Ontario government has harmonised its policies with the NBC's recommendations to mitigate radon exposure. New housing constructions are now mandated to incorporate provisions for a subfloor depressurisation system, offering a proactive approach to combat potential health risks. Furthermore, updates to references and clarifications regarding the necessity of such systems for buildings with limited occupancy hours underscore Ontario's commitment to ensuring public safety.

Additionally, it has aligned its regulations with the NBC's protocols concerning fire protection systems, encompassing standpipes, fire alarms, and fire sprinklers. 

Furthermore, Ontario has enhanced its standards for prefabricated septic tanks and sewage holding tanks by introducing a safety screen requirement beneath cleanout covers. Moreover, revisions pertaining to Type A Dispersal Beds specify the materials designated for the 'mantle,' exemplifying Ontario's approach to ensuring the integrity and safety of wastewater management systems.

How Often is the Ontario Building Code Updated?

Updates to Ontario's Building Code, including new editions or significant revisions, typically occur every five years to align with revisions made to the National Construction Codes.

Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024

The major updates to the Building Code are part of a larger move by the Ontario government called Bill 185: Cutting Red Tape to Build More Homes Act, 2024, part of the province's Spring 2024 Red Tape Reduction Package. With a goal of building 1.5 million homes by 2031, the provincial government's new bill's stated intention is to streamline approvals and increase the development of both housing and infrastructure across Ontario.

Bill 185, as outlined by the Province, focuses on several key themes, including:

  • Accelerating home construction while reducing costs.

  • Emphasising infrastructure development for housing projects through a new "use it or lose it" mechanism to address project delays.

  • Enhancing consultation processes and providing municipalities and builders with increased certainty to expedite home construction, including by restricting third-party appeals to the Ontario Land Tribunal.

  • Diversifying housing options to accommodate a broader range of individuals, achieved through streamlined approvals for student housing, promotion of standardised designs to minimise delays and expenses (including for modular homes), and endorsement of innovative construction techniques such as mass timber.

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Last modified 2024-05-22

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