New building code regulations often fly under the radar in discussions about high housing prices.

An example is the BC Step Code, an energy efficiency regulation circumventing the Canada/BC agreement to harmonize with the National Building Code.

Step Code implies energy efficiency is achieved in steps, when in fact, municipalities may leap into any Tier from 1 to 5.

Our cost estimate shows Tier 3 adds $28,000 to a new home, not including overhead. Higher Step Code Tiers can double and even triple this amount.

Besides added cost, are unintended consequences such as higher radon gas levels found in more energy efficient homes lacking radon mitigation. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, an illness increasing in non-smokers.

The BC government’s radon map is inaccurate because radon is site specific. A leading BC radon scientist says there has been inadequate radon testing in our region.

Recently, another misstep has occurred with BC’s Step Code. New data reveal Tier 5/Net Zero-ready homes, producing as much energy as they use, are achievable at Tier 4.

In other words, Tier 5 is unnecessary for Net Zero-ready, yet some lower mainland municipalities are already fast-tracking Tier 5.

Homebuyers will be overpaying tens of thousands of dollars for Tier 5 homes required  by their municipalities thinking Tier 5 is the only path to Net Zero-ready..

BC already has the highest home prices in Canada – now rising higher because the province circumvented the National Building Code process with a deeply flawed BC Step Code.

This is the ongoing price paid by British Columbians for a code lacking due diligence, health and safety and affordability, and being implemented piecemeal by 160 municipalities.

BC’s Step Code undermines the very foundation of building codes.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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