Scott Kneeland is trying to build a post-and-beam house in Buckley Bay, but changes in B.C. Building Code definitions are hampering the process.
Comox Valley Regional District officials asked the semi-retired builder to have an architect draw up plans. Kneeland refused and submitted his own plans.
He was then told to hire a professional engineer because he says the CVRD could not deal with grading or scaling the posts and beams, which he had rough-milled. He hired an engineer for $800 to pass his plans.
When a construction stage failed during his first inspection, Kneeland asked what could be done to correct it.
“His (inspector) response was, ‘I can’t say because you would hold me liable to it.’ He couldn’t tell me what to do because that would place the liability on the CVRD,” Kneeland said.
It was then suggested he hire a building envelope engineer, who said there was nothing wrong with Kneeland’s construction but who would charge $1,000 to file an official report.
“The liability issue and the B.C. codes are getting so ridiculous that for the small guy it’s impossible,” Kneeland said, noting the B.C. Policies Board has a No Exceptions rule.
“You guys are obliging me to pay $1,000 to protect your liabilities … Fifteen years ago in the trade, a builder could discuss with an inspector on the site and find a solution. That’s completely gone now.”
Doug McPherson, regional district manager of building services, recognizes the challenges of the prescriptive requirements of the B.C. Building Code. If a builder varies from the requirements, an alternative solution is to hire a registered professional.
Which involves a fee.
“I think what this boils down to is the new requirement of the capillary break or rainscreening, and the installation of the capillary break strips,” McPherson said.
Kneeland’s capillary break strips are installed horizontally, but the building code says nominally-vertically.
“I certainly empathize with his situation but my hands are tied,” McPherson said.