In 2016, owner-builders in BC were required to pass an exam on home building basics.

This includes building envelope, a critical part of energy efficiency in new homes.

Decades ago, homes experienced 10, 20 and even 40 air changes per hour – at a time when climate change was less of a concern.

Today, air changes have been reduced to 2 or 3 in a Built Green home constructed by an experienced VRBA builder.

Important components include window flashing details, air and vapour barriers, and mechanicals to move air through the home.

Quality home building requires the skilled craft of carpentry, but also knowledge of physics.

Water exists all around us as vapour, liquid and solid. A builder must manage wind, rain and humidity as homes become more air tight and margins for error decrease.

Consumers expect and deserve a well-built home offering years of healthy comfort and enjoyment.

Those homes should be constructed by professional builders to ensure the greatest protection for their investment.

If owners are permitted to build, they should demonstrate knowledge of modern construction practices, and provide warranty to future owners, now required by BC legislation with oversight by BC Housing’s Licensing and Consumer Services.

In the past, owner-builders applied for 30% of permits, yet 60% – 70% of municipal staff time was spent teaching owners to build. This wastes tax dollars, creates permit bottlenecks, and increases the cost of housing.

BC’s education standards for home building were the first in Canada, and long overdue for consumer protection.

Following BC’s example, Canadians need a national commitment to education prior to changes in the National Building Code.

Education, along with affordability, must keep pace with regulatory change.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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