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November 8, 2023
Anticipated changes to the B.C. Building Code (BCBC) are expected to affect the seismic design of new and retrofitted structures and likely escalate costs for developers, particularly for projects on Vancouver Island, warns Leon Plett, a structural engineer and managing principal at RJC Engineers in Victoria.
“When the design for seismic loads increase, that means the strength of the building has to increase to accommodate those greater loads,” he explains. “So, in a concrete tower where you might have a reinforced concrete core sitting on caissons or a large footing, those core walls, for instance, will go from a metre thick under the current code to something like 1.5 metres in the future code.
“We’ve run cost-analysis for a typical 30-storey residential building in Victoria and the increase is about $1.2 million in hard costs. The building has to be that much larger so there’s another $1 million in lost square footage. Two to $2.5 million on a 200-unit residential building is quite significant.”
Plett, who leads the Victoria structural engineering team at RJC, says changes to the BCBC were supposed to come into force in December but have been pushed back to 2024.