Energy efficient building code expected to drive up costs of new homes in B.C.

Energy efficient building code expected to drive up costs of new homes in B.C.

Purchasing a new home is expensive and it’s getting pricier every day. A shortage of building materials is one reason. Mary Griffin reports. 

Buying a new home is expensive, and those in the residential construction industry say the provincial government is pushing up costs.

Residential home construction is booming and supplies are moving out as quickly as they come in, according to Slegg Lumber’s Commodity Manager Patrick Millsap. However, there has been a 40 per cent jump in plywood prices in the past three weeks alone.

“Commodities over the past several week have been on a steep incline in price,” says Millsap. “And that’s led by plywood.”

The main reason for the price increase is the wildfire in the Interior.

Millsap says mills supplying the plywood are shut down, as well as the highways used to truck it to the coast.

“Lumber and plywood framing packages, about 28,000 for your average home.  And we’re approaching $40,000 right now,” Millsap said.

However, others say a green agenda for home builders is also making construction expensive for homeowners.

Starting in December, additional costs are going to make new homes more expensive in B.C. with the introduction of a new building code, according to Verity Construction and Development’s Chad Bryden.

“It’s hard to predict because we haven’t seen the exact specifications of what’s required. But it will be significant,” says Bryden. “Once you get to a passive, or net zero stage, it’s probably in the range of $100,000 in today’s dollars.”

In April, the Liberal government quietly introduced the new B.C. Energy Step Code. As of December, all new homes must to built to zero-energy use standards.

The greener the house, the more it’ll cost. It may be energy efficient, but industry leaders say not cost effective.

“Take that $100,000 on the mortgage. Amortize that at six percent over 25 years. And you probably have a real cost of about $180,000,” says Casey Edge is with the Victoria Residential Home Builders’ Association. “It doesn’t take you 100 years to get the payback on the energy savings. It takes you 180 years.”

The new NDP minister of housing, Selina Robinson, says she’ll be in touch with the Victoria Residential Builders Association in the near future.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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