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The Importance of Building Codes and Bylaw Reviews in Insurance Appraisals

Update:  The blog post below was originally posted on December 14, 2016.  It has since been announced that an update to the BC Building Code will require fire sprinklers to be installed on the balconies of all new four-storey wood-frame buildings.   The new sprinkler requirements will take effect on July 20, 2017.

“B.C. is a leader in fire safety requirements, but we continually review those rules and update them. Although the next edition of our building code won’t be adopted until late 2017, we wanted to implement this change as soon as possible, in the interest of safety.” -Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing 

For more information, visit the BC Government’s website or click here for further information.  

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The recent fire in Langley, BC  highlights the importance of getting a proper replacement cost insurance appraisal that includes a Building Code and Bylaw review.  To summarize the events – a fire started on one of the upper unit’s balconies, made its way into the attic space and then quickly spread from there.  This Vancouver Sun article states that Fire Chiefs have been lobbying for years to have the BC Building Code requirements strengthened for sprinklers in attics and balconies in wood-frame buildings under 4 storeys.

While it may be true that changing Building Codes and Municipal Bylaws is usually a reactive exercise versus a proactive one, the fact is that they do change.  Unfortunate events such as the Langley fire, lobby group efforts, as well as internal research done by the keepers of the Building Codes, leads to real changes in construction standards that affect the costs of construction for a new build.  Part of our job is to keep abreast of changes to the Codes and Bylaws and make any necessary changes to our analyses and reports.

Done correctly, an insurance appraisal will determine what fire protection requirements have changed since the original date of construction, and adjust the Total Insurable Value (TIV) accordingly.  In a total loss scenario, the property would have to be rebuilt with the new standards in place for fire sprinklers, fire standpipe systems, fire alarm systems, fire walls, and fire breaks.  The costs for adding these components can be significant, so make sure your appraisal includes a proper review.

For more information or for a no-obligation insurance appraisal proposal, email us at or call us toll-free at 1.888.887.0002.

To read the article as it originally appeared, click here.
Photo:  Richard Lam, PNG


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