What Are Building Codes? Why Are They So Important?

Every residential home is different – built in a different era; with different specifications; and with different building materials. As such, Building Codes allow for standardization and consistency in building practices. This would apply to everything from a newly constructed home, to a basement reno, to insulation retrofitting. However, for the most part, these codes are considered minimum requirements. And while this may suffice for many homeowners, it’s far better to go beyond the minimum, employing a quality contractor who builds with quality materials and products.


When it comes to energy efficiency in a residential home, the Canadian National Building Code defines minimum standards for insulation performance and air tightness. These standards apply to the Provincial Building Code as well, and are updated on a regular basis. In fact, many changes are being made on an annual basis, particularly because of the emphasis on energy consumption and climate change. Needless to say, Building Code changes like these will have a major influence on new construction and on renovations and retrofits. Clearly, the changes are for the better.

With home insulation, changes to the Building Code are especially relevant. Indeed, over the years, there has been much discrepancy about the definition of R-Values. Evolving definitions will better address R-Values to reflect the true value of a “whole” installation, rather than reflecting the insulation value of a product prior to installation. Importantly, new codes will encompass both insulation performance and air sealing. Hence, conventional insulation techniques will likely not meet the new standards. It means installing better products that are higher performance.

For the average homeowner, Building Codes ensure acceptable standards, designed to deliver a good outcome. But whether it’s a new build or an energy retrofit, it’s important to do the research and to choose high performance insulation materials and superior installation techniques. Today, Spray Foam Insulation leads the way in high performance insulation materials. And in majority of cases, SFI will meet and usually exceed Building Code requirements. The same thing applies for installations like HP+™ Wall Systems (insulation that provides superb control of air/moisture).

In future, government benchmarks and building standards will dictate the importance of energy efficiency in a residential home. In an ongoing effort to reduce energy consumption, there will be minimum requirements set for both air tightness and insulation performance. And although the minimums are only guidelines, many homeowners will choose to do more, and actually retrofit for the future. This is achievable by taking a quality approach to both product and installation, and hiring professionals who provide superior installations, along with high quality products.

Bottom line, an energy-efficient home is going to be more comfortable, more healthful, and more cost effective for a homeowner. And that means doing it right from the start – keeping up with the Building Code, and choosing professionals who can ensure the very best long-term outcomes. As well, manufacturers and contractors will have to keep up with changing demands, standards,  and expectations.