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Building regulation revisions: what do they mean for you?

In the past few days, we’ve seen a lot of questions about the impact of the province amending provincial building regulations (which took place May 6, 2021).

Here’s a quick Q&A to help clear up some of the confusion.

Q: I can now build my camp with milled lumber, right?
A: Yes, but only if the building is less than 604 square feet and you’re in a rural area.

Q: Wait. I thought it was 625 square feet.
A: That’s what government press releases said – but the regulation states 56.08 m2 – which crunches out to just less than 604 square feet.

Q: Does a loft or basement count as part of the 604 square feet?
A: Yes.

Q: But all of this goes away at the end of the year, right?
A: No. The only thing that will change at the end of the year is the capacity to build under the 2010 National Building Code.

Q: Wait. I thought it was the 2015 Code that made milled lumber mandatory.
A: The requirement for stamped lumber has been in the National Building Code for a half-century. It’s just that in New Brunswick, the province has, for a long time, exempted some buildings from the application of Code – which most folks interpreted as “I can use milled lumber.” But it also means you don’t have to have frost walls, insulation, ventilation, smoke alarms and all the other thing that Code requires.

Q: So I can pour my own slab for my garage, right?
A: That’s what it means, basically. Again, as long as you’re talking about rural areas.

Q: Awesome! And I don’t need a permit for any of this stuff. Is that right?
A: Well, not quite. Here’s where things are a bit confusing: your construction still has to meet the requirements of any highway setbacks or land-use regulations under the Community Planning Act. If you call our office, we’ll check to see if your property is subject to these regulations. If they are, you’ll have to ask for a development approval, which costs $100. If not, then no permit (and no fee) is involved.

Q: So … what exactly is an “accessory building?”
A: Well, that’s a complicated answer. Generally, it’s things like sheds, barns, chicken coops, small garages and so on. But at some point, a building becomes so large that it simply can’t be called an accessory building: it becomes its own thing. We’re using the long-standing guideline of 2,150 square feet as a trigger point. It’s also worth noting that any building that is ordinarily accessible by the public – in other words, anyone other than friends and family of the land owner or occupant – has to be built as a building permit structure.

Q: I have a 550 square foot camp. I want to add a 100 square foot covered porch on it. What do I need to know?
A:  For that, you'll need a building permit. The total area of the final construction exceeds 603 square feet, so it is no longer exempt from Code.

Q: Wait. So now the whole camp has to meet Code, just because I’m adding a porch?
A: No. Under Code, a building inspector’s authority in this situation would only apply to the new construction, not the existing building.

Q: Does that include decks?
A: Yes! This is one of the things we run into on a regular basis: any deck attached to a house requires a building permit and must meet Code.

Q: So if I want to add a garage to my house, it has to meet Code?
A: Yes. The house would be, and is, subject to Code – and anything attached to it must also meet Code.

Q: What if the garage is, I dunno, 10 feet away from the house.
A: Unless the garage is massive, it wouldn't need a building permit, just a development approval.

Q: Augh! This is so confusing. If I have questions, who can I call?
A: Your local planning commission. For those in Charlotte County and southern York County, that’s us: 466-7360.

Updated May, 2021. New content will be added as we become aware of common questions and misconceptions.