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Changes to the building code cause confusion for builders.

Changes to the building code cause confusion for builders

While the goods and services tax (GST) and high interest rates have dealt blows to a number of retail and service industries, the residential construction sector has also had to deal with the added impact of changes to the province's building code.

Andreas Petersen, manager of Petersen's Building Supplies in Thunder Bay, notes that the switch from the manufacturer's tax to the GST has resulted in a 20- to 30-per-cent drop in the price of some products, but that a number of factors have stifled any potential increase in sales.

Among the factors were the late spring in northwestern Ontario and changes to insulation requirements contained in the building code which came into affect on Jan. 1.

In Sudbury Bernie Frasen, director of the region's building controls office, said much confusion has resulted from the changes.

Most of the changes to R-value requirements occurred in Zone-2, which encompasses most of Northern Ontario. The change which caused the most problems affected insulation requirements for exterior walls of new homes.

Frasen said the insulation required by the building code jumped a total of two R-values in some instances (from R-20 to R-22).

"The problem was that manufactured batts didn't provide the required insulation," he said during a telephone interview. "The manufacturers had to go back to their workstations to make sure the batts complied with the regulations."

Frasen added that the problems have been gradually corrected since the beginning of the year and that insulation manufacturers have re-invented their products.

"The problem in Northern Ontario is that none of the manufacturers were making an R-22 batt," said Grant McDiarmaid, marketing manager, home building for Fiberglass Canada Inc.

McDiarmaid pointed out that his company has since developed a 5.5-inch batt with the necessary R-value.

"It wasn't a big deal. It was just a matter of changing the density," he said, adding that company officials had been working on the product since the changes to the building code were proposed.

"We weren't surprised by them," McDiarmaid said.

The new product in not only denser than R-20 batts, but it also contains more glass and is narrower and thinner, making it better suited to two-by-six wall construction.

Ralph DiGaetano, a code development officer with the Ministry of Housing in Toronto, noted that the changes in insulation requirements were contained in a proposal made by the Ministry of Energy in 1988 and were finally adopted last October.

The lengthy approval process included reviews by the Ministry of Housing's code committee, the construction industry and insulation manufacturers. By DiGaetano's estimation, more than 1,800 people were involved in the process.

He said that, in most cases, contractors can easily compensate for the change.

"We didn't require any new type of insulation. They (contractors) can get by with fiberglas clad R-7 sheathing or by using two-by-six construction with five-and-half inches of batting," DiGaetano said. "There are several ways of doing it."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Report on Construction
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 1991
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