The Canadian Board for Harmonized Construction Codes (CBHCC) comprises federal, provincial, and territorial representatives from ministries responsible for building, fire, plumbing, and energy regulation in their jurisdictions. The CBHCC is responsible for developing, approving, and maintaining the National Model Codes. The CBHCC is co-chaired by a representative from the provinces and territories and by a representative from the NRC on behalf of the federal government.
The National Model Codes are five documents developed and maintained by the CBHCC. The documents serve as models for provincial and territorial building and fire regulations and come into effect once adopted in full or in part by an authority having jurisdiction. In some cases, the National Model Codes are amended and/or supplemented to suit regional needs and then published as jurisdictional codes.
The five documents are the National Building Code of Canada (NBC), the National Fire Code of Canada (NFC), the National Plumbing Code of Canada (NPC), the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) and the National Farm Building Code of Canada (NFBC; last published in 1995).
The NBC sets out technical requirements for the design and construction of new buildings as well as for the alteration, change of use, and demolition of existing buildings. The requirements address safety, health, accessibility, energy efficiency and building protection.
The NFC sets out fire protection requirements for the safe use and maintenance of buildings. It also applies to the conduct of activities that might cause fire hazards in and around buildings, fire safety at construction and demolition sites, the establishment of fire safety plans, and limitations on hazardous contents in and around buildings.
The NPC includes provisions for the safe installation of potable water systems, the removal of wastewater to municipal or private sewage water systems, and water use efficiency.
The NECB sets out technical requirements for the energy-efficient design and construction of new buildings and additions.
The NFBC applies to small farm buildings of low human occupancy and contains minimum requirements on matters affecting human health, fire safety, and structural sufficiency. Requirements for large farm buildings were introduced in the 2020 edition of the NBC.
The National Model Codes are updated every five years. Code content is continually evaluated and updated to reflect improvements in technology, address emerging health and safety issues, and generally continue to meet the evolving needs of Canadian society.
The CBHCC is responsible for developing and updating the National Model Codes. Development of code content is undertaken by development committees comprising of volunteer members bringing varied perspectives and expertise from across the country. The Codes are developed and updated using a consensus-based process with broad input from industry, code users, the regulatory community, and the public, and advice from the Advisory Council for Harmonized Construction Codes on key policy issues related to the Codes. For more information, visit the code development process section of the website.
The Canadian Table for Harmonized Construction Code Policy (CTHCCP) is a group that works to build national consensus and provide strategic policy direction and oversight for the development of the National Model Codes. The CTHCCP oversees the CBHCC.
The CTHCCP is made up of provincial, territorial, and federal deputy ministers (or equivalent representatives) and is co-chaired by a representative from the provinces and territories and the NRC member on behalf of the federal government.
The Advisory Council for Harmonized Construction Codes (Advisory Council) provides advice to the CBHCC on key policy and implementation issues related to the National Model Codes.
The Advisory Council consists of individuals from a range of member organizations representing municipal officials, emergency responders, the building industry, and other organizations with an interest in the regulation of building construction and operation through Codes. Membership is established by the CBHCC, but any organization with an interest in the regulation of building construction and operation through Codes can participate in the Advisory Council’s public meetings.
What is the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) role in the harmonized code development system?
As a federal-provincial-territorial board, the CBHCC relies on input from all members on behalf of their jurisdictions. A representative of the NRC serves as a member and co-chair of the CBHCC on behalf of the federal government.
In addition, the NRC provides the CBHCC with secretarial services through Codes Canada, an administrative unit under the NRC’s Construction Research Centre. Services include publishing the National Model Codes in both official languages, and providing policy, administrative and technical support to the CBHCC and its code development committees.
Experts from the NRC’s Construction Research Centre also conduct science-based research to inform the code development committees in the code development system.
The National Model Codes are developed on a five-year cycle. For each code cycle, the CTHCCP establishes strategic priority areas that become the focus of code development activities for that cycle. The CTHCCP selects the priorities through a consensus-based process with input from the CBHCC, which receives advice from the Advisory Council.
The 2020 editions of the NBC, NFC, NPC and NECB were released in March 2022. The NFBC was last published in 1995, however its application is limited by revisions to the 2020 edition of the NBC.
Since the 2015 editions of the NBC, NFC and NPC, and the 2017 edition of the NECB, nearly 400 technical changes have been incorporated into the 2020 editions of these Codes. These changes will make Canadian homes and buildings safer and more accessible, while responding to climate change. To learn more, visit the list of key technical changes in the 2020 Codes.
Will revisions to the National Model Codes be published after they are released? If so, how do I get the revisions?
Revisions and errata approved by the CHBCC are published mid-cycle, while emergency changes are released as needed. Revisions and errata packages for the National Model Codes are available for free in electronic format through the NRC’s Publications Archive. If you did not purchase a printed publication directly from the NRC, please create an account in the NRC Virtual Store and subscribe to the mailing list in order to be notified of any revisions and errata.
New editions of the NBC, NFC, NPC and NECB are published approximately every five years. Development of the 2025 National Model Codes is underway. The next edition of the National Model Codes is expected to be published in 2025.
The CBHCC encourages the involvement of all Canadians in the code development process to ensure that the best available knowledge drives meaningful change. Members of the public, Codes users, and industry stakeholders can get involved in the code development process by submitting a code change request, volunteering to be a member of a code development committee, attending a public meeting of the CBHCC or Advisory Council, or participating in a public review.
About technical content
Who should I reach out to if I have a question about building design, construction, or construction codes where I live?
In Canada, provincial and territorial governments are responsible for regulating building construction. If you have specific questions about building design or construction, you should contact your local building authority (usually a local building, plumbing, or fire official employed by your local municipality).
For general questions about the Codes or the code development process, the CBHCC can be reached by email at CBHCCSecretary-SecretaireCCHCC@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.
For general questions about the Codes, the CBHCC can be reached by email at CBHCCSecretary-SecretaireCCHCC@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.
Proposing a code change
Requests for changes to the National Model Codes are welcome from anyone at any time and can be made by completing the code change request form. You do not need to be a subject-matter expert to submit a request, but requests should clearly articulate the situation that you feel should be addressed. For more information on what information should be included in a request, please visit the Code change request section of the website.
Once received by the CBHCC, a triage process determines if the code change request aligns with the strategic priorities set for that code cycle. Code change requests may be advanced to code development committees for consideration or considered in future code development cycles. This is dependent on when the code change request is received and the capacity of committees to review new requests.
Every code change request is entered into a database where it is given a unique identification number for tracking purposes. The code change request then follows the path outlined in the code development process. Proponents can follow the progress of their request and its status by using the code change request tracking database.
Accessing the Codes
The National Model Codes, as well as the related user’s guides, are available for free in electronic format and for purchase in print format.
To access the electronic documents, visit the online collection of National Model Codes publications in the National Research Council of Canada's (NRC) Publications Archive.
To purchase the publications in print format, place your order online through the NRC Virtual Store. Alternatively, you can send a completed order form (PDF, 164 KB) to the NRC’s Codes Canada Publication Sales by email.
Contact Codes Canada Publication Sales
Phone: 1-800-672-7990 or 1-613-993-2463
Opening hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern time, Monday to Friday