Saturday, September 6, 2008

Flywheel - Secondary Suites - Penticton

After 13 years since the allowance of secondary suites in the BC Building Code. The city of Penticton has opted to recognize that secondary suites are a necessary evil in today's housing market. Until recently, like many municipalities Penticton had turned a blind eye to the growing number of suites acting on a complaint only basis for bylaw enforcement. But with the growing price of housing in the area, there is little chance a first time home owner could carry a mortgage without a suite. There is also a growing trend for Baby Boomers to help their children out by sharing a single family home or having someone live in their 2nd residence as they travel abroad or go south for the winter. As most financial do not recognize legal or non-legal suites, this has forced many to go under the radar or flat out lie to inspection departments and finish the suite area off after final occupancy inspections have been granted for new homes. Some municipalities have blurred the lines by allowing "in-law" suites but many have been phasing this abused option out as well such as the City of Kelowna.

As someone who rented for 12 years in the Lower Mainland and was an in inspector in the Coquitlam, one of the first municipalities to legalize suites in BC, I've seen the need to make affordable rental safe for both tenant and land owner.

But before you get too excited, there are a number of catches, particularly with adding a suite to an existing single family home. Besides the additional permit fees, including $100 to register the Housing Agreement at Land Titles ( This is prove that the owner of the property of the home lives in the house containing a suite). There are some weird provisions for maintaining the look of the existing home as well as restrictions to adding onto the home once a suite has been installed. It appears additions to the home are not permitted to add a secondary suite or it may not be allowed to update the exterior of your home when adding a suite. It is unclear if it it would be allowed to add to your home one year and make a suite the next. Secondary suites are not allowed in detached buildings often called "carriage homes".

The city of Penticton planning department is in the process of reviewing some of the suite requirements and can be reached at PENTICTON SECONDARY SUITES or contact us for more information or a free on-site consultation at Flywheel Building Solutions - 250 859 6062

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Flywheel - Green Code - Okanagan requirements

The new green requirements in the Code come into effect on September 5, 2008 and will apply to all new construction and renovations in BC. The new requirements will apply to building permit applications submitted on or after September 5, 2008. These changes revolve around new Building Code requirements to increase energy and water efficiency.

But what does this mean to us here in the Okanagan and are they enough?

Unless you are building commercial or high-rise projects, there is little change to what is required under the basic provisions of the 2006 BC Building Code and local Building Bylaws.

Energy Efficiency

Increased engergy requirements for residential projects under 5 storeys have only seen an increase for Attic insulation values from R40 to R44.

Water Efficiency

As most jurisdictions have already adopted measures towards water efficiency - 6 litre flush toilets. It should not be a large leap towards meeting the maximum flow and flush cylcles required by code. These would include:

Maximum Flow Rates

Kitchen & Lavatory - 8.3L/min

Shower Heads - 9.5L/min (I am not sure how multiple head shower stalls could be considered "green")

Maximum Flush Cycles

Water Closets (Toilets) Tank Type - 6.0 Litres

Water Closets Direct Flush - 6.0 Litres

Urinal - Tank and Direct Flush - 5.7 Litres

Ensuring that your builder, suppliers and sub-trades have the corret information and product on hand will be the key factor to ensuring you meet the new green codes. Do I feel that these changes will make a significant impact - NO. But at least we are moving in the right direction.

Details on the new requirements are available in the Summary and Text of Code Changes.

If you are wondering what is in store for more improvements to green codes you may want to look at the City of Vancouver's Building Bylaw.

Code Design Build

Blogs I Follow