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Politics, Social Policy Overshadow Safety, Affordability in Code

Building Code regulations are changing from a focus on safety & affordability to politics and social policy, boosting the cost of new housing.

Design of stairs is again being reviewed, but not with the goal of reasonable safety. Govt is claiming that even a small number of injuries must be prevented due to the health care system’s rising costs.

In reality, an entirely injury-free world is neither possible nor affordable.

Advocacy of mandatory fire sprinklers in new homes continues, but still lacks justification by objective cost/benefit studies.

National fire fatalities actually decreased from 141 in 2010 to 96 in 2014, despite about 800,000 new homes added during that period.

Reasonable, affordable safety is provided by wired-in smoke alarms in new homes, whereas older homes lacking smoke alarms present the highest risk.

The most expensive new regulation is fast-tracking energy efficiency in already energy efficient new homes.

The BC govt leaped ahead of the country with its Step Code costing thousands of dollars to reduce air changes by 1 or 2 per hour.

Yet most GHG emissions are from older homes, the vast majority of our housing stock. A small tax credit for retrofits would reduce air changes by 10 to 30 per hour in older homes.

Instead, govt is using homebuyers’ mortgages to finance goals offering negligible benefit in new homes.

It’s no wonder the cost of govt regulation on new housing is more than a quarter million dollars and rising.

The BC govt provided no public consultation for the Step Code, however Codes Canada is holding consultations in the Fall for changes to the National Building Code www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Have your say to refocus new housing on safety and affordability, not politics and social policy.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

Visit us at www.vrba.ca and www.careawards.ca. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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