• 8_Common_Commercial_Building_Codes_That_You_Need_to_Know

Most individuals, when approaching their first construction project, are vaguely familiar with building codes, otherwise known as building regulations. The intent of the Building Code is to detail the minimum provisions acceptable to maintain the safety of buildings, with specific regard to public health, fire protection, accessibility and structural sufficiency. It is not a textbook for building design or not an optional element in construction. Building codes are designed to safeguard the health and safety of all occupants in the building.

Knowledge of building codes is an essential factor when choosing a commercial contractor for your next construction project. An experienced commercial construction company will have Strong knowledge of building codes that will ensure your construction/renovation job goes smoothly without expensive mistakes. Implementation of building codes starts early in design process; your commercial construction contractor submits building plans to your City building department and issues building permit to begin construction. The City inspector will verify compliance to these standards during development during field review and issues permits for the inhabitance of the building.

Commercial Building Codes in British Columbia

The National Building Code of Canada is the model building code of Canada, published by National Research Council and developed by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes, sets out technical provisions for the design and construction of new buildings. It also applies to the alteration, change of use and demolition of existing buildings.

The regulation of building construction is a provincial responsibility in Canada, Provincial codes that guides building construction and renovation in British Columbia are BC Building Code , BC Plumbing Code and BC Fire Code.

The Code applies throughout British Columbia, except for some Federal lands and the City of Vancouver. Under the Vancouver Building Bylaw(VBBL), Vancouver has developed its own building code based on the National Building Code and the current code was enacted on July 2014, Building By-law No. 10908.

There’s a ton of building code and can be overwhelming for someone with little or no experience. On top of it, additional codes with more specific requirements apply to places of business. If you’re preparing for a commercial construction project, here are the most common 8 commercial building codes that you need to know.

Means of Egress

The means of egress building code governs the number of exits a commercial building must have, as well as the minimum width of aisles, hallways, doorways, and other means of leaving a building. You’ll want to ensure that your building has been designed with the proper sizing and dimensions to conform to the means of egress building codes in your area.

Boring of Framing (plumbing)

Plumbing systems are an integral part of your commercial building. For this reason, building codes dictate the allowable sizes and locations for holes and cuts into studs needed to make room for plumbing in your building. These commercial building codes help to ensure the structural integrity of walls in your establishments.

Labeling of Circuits

It is one of the building code systems that your electrical contractor will follow. It is often overlooked, every circuit and circuit modification shall be legibly identified as to its clear, evident, and specific purposes or use.” Thus, this is an important final checklist item for your commercial contractor to have in place.

Air Sealing of Penetrations (electrical, ducts, venting)

The penetrations from electrical, plumbing, HVAC ducts, and vents need to be properly air sealed. Any penetrations, especially the ones that is leading externally, should be sealed using approved material to ensure air cannot pass through the openings.

Fire resistance

Fire resistance is another vital area where many commercial buildings fail inspection. Fire rated drywalls, insulations, etc..are used to prevent the spread of fire through the concealed, open cavities in your building. This is a critical fire safety building code.

Reinforcement or Support of Rebar

Building codes state that reinforcement should be secured in the proper location in the forms of tie wire or a rebar support system to ensure the structural integrity of the concrete.


Having the proper handrail and guard railing height and spacing is another frequent commercial building code violation. The handrail should be between 34-42 in, guard railing shall be not less than 42 in high and evenly distributed vertical load applied at the top of the guard should be 1.5 kN/m.

Further , there are requirements for design and opening of guardrail must not facilitate to climbing.


The Building code states that exit stairs and public stairs serving buildings shall have a width of not less than 35.4”, public stair rise shall be between 4.9-7in. It also states that stair treads should be minimum 11”, The depth of a rectangular tread shall be not less than its run and not more than its run plus 0.98”and risers shall be of uniform size and shape and that winder treads shouldn’t be used in egress stairways of commercial buildings except for curved or spiral stairways.

Vancouver Commercial Construction 

If building codes are not followed precisely, it means that your commercial building will not pass inspection, meaning you’ll have to modify your construction and then have the inspector return for a follow-up inspection.

Warning! This is not a comprehensive list of building code(s) but information is intended for awareness only. The building codes may change from time to time. For a valid and complete list for building codes, you will need to check with your respective local regulators or city by laws.

Code violations can arise from a contractor’s lack of code knowledge, cost-cutting shortcuts, or a lack of coordination between different trades (example: an Electrical contractor damages a framing contractor’s work).  At Jericho General Contractors, we avoid building code violations through our formal means of communication with subcontractors and by holding them accountable for their work. We have solid commercial construction experience with a focus on quality work and communication. Contact us online or by phone today for more information about starting your next commercial construction/Tenant Improvement project in Greater Vancouver.

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