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NBC 2015 now in force

On Feb. 1, the Province adopted the National Building Code, 2015 edition. Our office will do as much as it can to help contractors, homeowners and others make a transition to the new Code.

There are also new provincial building regulations. Most notably, any structures that are more than 20 m2 (215 ft2), and all structures used for accommodation, regardless of size (in other words, camps) must now be built to meet Code.

The new provincial building regulations also clearly mandate that a building permit is required when a building's use, or occupancy, changes. In some cases, that's not as clear as one may think.

Here, in summary, are some of the critical changes to the building code:

Part 9 (residential buildings, small commercial buildings, apartments)

Earthquake safety

Due to changes in the classification of earthquake risks posed by the Oak Bay Fault, (which runs from north of Oak Bay, along the coast towards Campobello) buildings in St. Stephen, Oak Bay, Saint Andrews, Deer Island and parts of Rollingdam, St. David Ridge and Back Bay (areas in red on map at right) must now be constructed to resist earthquake forces. Requirements include:

Any construction shown in this red area must now conform to earthquake requirements under NBC 2015. Above-ground ICF construction in red or yellow areas require engineered designs.
  1. Decreased spacing of anchor bolts in foundations, and paired anchor bolts at foundation corners (in some cases).
  2. Requirements for more nails and blocking in some sections of stick-built houses.
  3. Requirements, in some situations, for increased interior wall supports.
  4. increased structural demands, and storey limits for buildings using these materials Limits on the use of heavy roofing materials and cladding (ie: terrazzo/clay roofs, brick.)

What this means:
Contractors will have to identify the braced wall bands and braced wall panels in areas deemed an earthquake risk. It is our hope to have some information on our website shortly, but in the meantime, this illustrated guide from B.C. touches on all the key points (BC’s building code in this regard is largely identical to NBC 2015.)

  1. Throughout what is essentially Charlotte County, (area shaded yellow in map shown here) all above-ground Insulated Concrete Form structures must have reinforcing designed/approved by an engineer qualified to work in the Province of New Brunswick. Several suppliers already have engineer-approved reinforcing regimes that our office can and will accept. This does not apply to ICF foundation systems.

What this means:

Any above-ground ICF building in either the yellow or red parts of the map will have to be designed by an engineer. Some of the ICF manufacturers can provide engineer-certified reinforcing methods for use.

Apartments and sound

  • Slightly more rigorous requirements for sound transmission when residential units abut other uses (ie: duplexes, apartments over stores, etc.)

Increased snow loads

  • Climate data has changed for three reference communities (St. Stephen, St. George, Saint Andrews) in the Charlotte County part of our area, increasing predicted snowloads.What this means: The increase (about 10 pounds per square foot) should be automatically accounted for by truss manufacturers. There is likely very little change for building with rafters in most circumstances, as the defined snow loads required us to round up to the same table as we will use under NBC 2015. Requirements for York County will not change.


  1. Spiral staircases are permitted.
  2. Minimum run of a stair is now 25.5 cm (10 inches). (Was 8.5 under NBC 2010). This means contractors will have to pay close attention when planning stair configurations. Our office may, for some time, require a detailed plan for stairs until builders are familiar with the new requirements.
  3. Handrail height limits relaxed – now 86.5 cm to 107 cm (34-42”)
  4. Handrails must now be continuous through a flight, including through a landing. Can start at a newel post, but cannot be interrupted by one mid-flight.
  5. Landing dimensions simplified: for the most part, must have the same length and depth as the width of the stairs they serve.


  • The restriction on guards facilitating climbing has been relaxed. This allows for more design options for guards with a height less than 4.2 metres.


  • Exits subject to being blocked by cars or other obstacles shall have either a sign, or physical barriers (bollards) to ensure suitable clearance and pathways. (Not applicable to residential builds.)


  • Expanded list of materials accepted for protecting foamed plastic insulation.

Changes to Part 3

As most part 3 buildings (buildings > 600m2 in area, schools, restaurants, care homes, buildings >3 storeys, etc.) require a professional designer to provide code-compliant plans, the following is only a point-form summary of some of the changes to Part 3 in NBC 2015:

  • 4-6 storey wood-frame C and D occupancies (residential, office) now allowed
  • Spiral staircases allowed
  • Expanded list of acceptable coverings of foamed plastic insulation
  • Allowance of foamed plastic insulation in certain kinds of non-combustible buildings, esp. when used in coolers
  • Relaxed requirement for fire stops on some kinds of penetrations of fire separations (electrical outlets in particular.)
  • Modifications to rules for fire-dampers in ducts
  • Tweaks to rules for hold-open devices on doors
  • Modifications to handrail requirements for seats in aisles (theatres, rinks)
  • Requirement of minimum distances between exit stairs added
  • Introduced increased requirements for front door exits to dance halls, establishments serving alcohol
  • Handrails must be continuously graspable through a flight of stairs
  • Introduced rules for use of electromagnetic door locks
  • New section introduced to regulate self-storage buildings

Also; in conjunction with the changes to NBC, the province introduced modifications to the barrier-free regulation that guides construction to ensure access to persons with mobility or visual challenges.

Further, the province has adopted the National Energy Code, which would provide more prescriptive requirements for energy-efficiency in Part 3 buildings.