Which building code to choose?

In Quebec, it can be complex to navigate through the multitude of laws that govern the construction of a building. Between the various codes in force, municipal regulations and the authority of the Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ), it can be difficult to navigate. The following article is intended to help you better understand how your plan should be developed to address this complex situation.

Before we begin, you should know that in general, the Canadian National Building Code is adopted as the construction code across the country, with the exception of certain provinces which have written a code better adapted to their region or which modifies it before adoption. However, the information is very similar. Obviously, Quebec is one of the provinces that modifies the code to call it the Quebec construction code (CCQ).

How to find your way

1) What is the building code?

The Quebec Construction Code constitutes a collection of standards, regulations and technical directives which dictate the construction, renovation and safety rules for buildings in Quebec. It is developed by the RBQ in close collaboration with experts and key players in the construction industry. This Quebec Construction Code is periodically revised to incorporate technological advances, best construction practices and the most recent safety standards.


2) Who decides the applicable code

Under Canadian law, regulations related to construction fall under the jurisdiction of the provinces and are enshrined in various laws, codes and regulations, often managed at the municipal level. Provincial laws authorize government agencies or departments to regulate various aspects of construction based on the objectives of the law or act in question. This legislation allows detailed regulations to be established to achieve the objectives of the law, and it may also make reference to other documents. Thus, laws intended to protect the safety and health of building occupants may generally impose additional requirements by reference to building codes.

Building codes are primarily applicable to new construction and traditionally emphasize aspects such as fire safety, structural stability and the health of building occupants. Recent versions of the codes also address accessibility for people with disabilities and energy efficiency.

Zoning and planning legislation plays a crucial role in regulating buildings, limiting the type, size, spacing, setback and use of buildings, as well as controlling general use. of the ground in a given area. Its objective is to maintain local characteristics and guarantee organized development of the region.

In short, the construction code is written by the Government of Canada but it is the provinces that implement it.

In Quebec, the application of the construction code is governed by the building law and this law is the responsibility of the Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ).

3) RBQ

In Quebec, the application of the construction code is governed by the building law and this law is the responsibility of the Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ).

The Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ) is a government agency in the province of Quebec responsible for regulating and supervising the construction, renovation and maintenance of buildings. The RBQ is responsible for guaranteeing compliance with safety and quality standards in the construction industry. Its main missions include issuing licenses to contractors and professionals in the sector, carrying out inspections on construction sites, implementing regulations related to construction standards, as well as protecting consumer rights.

Building law requires applying the code in force. Buildings whose construction or alteration work began on or after July 8, 2023 must comply with the requirements of the 2015 construction code of Chapter I, Building, of the Construction Code.

However, be careful, this is where things get complicated! The construction law does not apply uniformly to all construction in Quebec. The implementing regulations of the Building Act stipulate that a building which exclusively houses one of the main uses specified and defined in the Construction Code is exempt from the application of Chapter I relating to buildings of this Code. Among these uses are:

    • a dwelling which constitutes a building of no more than 8 dwellings
    • a dwelling which constitutes a building of at most 2 floors in building height
    • a dwelling that constitutes either a rooming house, an outfitter, or
    • a guesthouse with no more than 9 rooms
    • and more

Exempted buildings and equipment are listed at the very beginning of the chapter. Consult section I, Scope, of chapter I, Building, of the Construction Code to read the complete list.

4) Exempt buildings

Exempted buildings are subject to municipal standards. In other words, the year of the applicable building code may vary from one municipality to another. This is why it is important that your project manager communicates with the city to find out the year of the CCQ in effect before starting to design the plans.

5) In summary

In summary, the RBQ is the government agency responsible for regulating and supervising construction in Quebec, while the Quebec Construction Code is a set of standards and technical regulations that details specific construction and safety requirements to be respected in the province. The RBQ ensures that the provisions of the Construction Code are implemented on construction sites and in real estate projects.

If you want to know more, we advise you to read the technical sheet that the GCR guarantee offers on their website.

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