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You may wonder how the industry of building and home construction is regulated by the province. Ontario requires that many building designers and certain inspectors pass exams and become registered as practitioners.

Each area of specialty has an exam and each practitioner must register for a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN) prior to taking an exam.

This examination and registration process is in place to ensure that specific construction professionals are properly trained and knowledgeable in the Ontario Building Code so that all work is done safely and to current standards.

BCIN and the City of Ottawa

For new home construction or additions, architectural drawings submitted to the City of Ottawa by industry professionals must be stamped with a BCIN to indicate that they were created by certified professionals who have studied and passed exams in that area of expertise. This helps the City to save time as they know that the drawings they are looking to approve have been drafted with the right building code and safety in mind.

Architects don’t actually require a BCIN in Ontario since they are already insured and qualified for work and for submitting drawings under the Building Code Designation System, regulated by the Ontario Association of Architects.

Ontario Building Code and the BCIN

The following design activities are specified as requiring a BCIN in Ontario according to the Ontario Building Code:

  • Preparing a design as part of a building permit application;
  • Giving information or an opinion concerning whether a building or part of a building complies with the Building Code if the information or opinion is to be submitted to a chief building official in connection with a building permit application; and
  • Preparing a written report for submission to the chief building official based on a general review, where a general review is required by the Building Code.

Submitting your own drawings

You might be surprised to know that homeowners are exempt from the requirements of BCIN and can submit drawings to the City without a BCIN! In these scenarios, the City will review the drawings carefully and assess their merit. It is possible in this scenario that due to a lack of certification and training, these plans will contain numerous issues that may need to be addressed.

With that being said, residential additions larger than 600 square meters or larger than 3 storeys high will still require the stamp of a professional engineer according to the Ontario Building Code.

There are good reasons to include professional help when drawing your plans. Zoning bylaws, building codes, structural stability, space and flow are just some of the considerations that professionals can help with. Drawing the plans yourself will save you a small fee, but could cost you in the long run as any issues with the structure or code violations will become your responsibility.