The City of Vancouver has extended the implementation of its controversial new Building Bylaw to next year, giving homebuilders and consumers time to adjust to what some builders call “onerous” regulations.
The new bylaw, which covers detached houses and low-rise residential buildings, bans doorknobs and ushers in some of the toughest energy requirements in Canada. Originally scheduled to come into effect in March 2014, it was extended to July 1, 2014 and implementation has now been pushed to January 1, 2015.
In the recent months the city has seen a sharp increase in building and development applications as residential builders attempted to beat the July 1 deadline, according to industry sources.
Lynn Harrison, chair of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association, said the new bylaw would increase the cost of both new homes and substantial renovation projects. “These are onerous changes,” she said.
The bylaw’s accessibility requirements bans doorknobs and knobs on bathroom and kitchen taps and mandates wider doorways and hallways to accommodate wheelchairs. The new bylaw also bans small powder rooms on the main floor of a multi-storey house, instead mandating that only full “accessible” bathrooms be installed.
Energy requirements include an upgrade to window performance, an increase in insulation levels, greater air tightness and the mandatory installation of a 240-volt electrical vehicle outlet in each carport or garage.
The bylaw covers both new home construction and substantial home renovation projects.
Mark Hartman, the City of Vancouver green building manager, said the new bylaw is part of the city’s strategy to become the “greenest city in the world by 2020.” He didn’t explain why the bylaw deadline has been extended once again.
However, a building consultant on the city’s bylaw advisory committee, said the delays were due to “intense lobbying by building product manufacturers, particularly in the window and door industry.”
The city is offering training sessions to get builders and consumers up to speed on the new bylaw. Training sessions will be held September 11 and September 16 at Vancouver city hall.