Continued professional development now required for B.C. home builders

BC Hydro supports home builders with continuing professional development

New provincial licensing system requires ongoing training for licence renewal

Last year, changes to the Homeowner Protection Act ushered in a new era for B.C.'s home builders. Those wishing to renew a license with a general contractor status are now required to take Continuing Professional Development (CPD) as a condition of their renewal.

"Our goal is to protect new homebuyers across British Columbia," said Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing, in a news release. "We worked with the construction industry to make these changes, raise the bar of professionalism and maintain B.C.'s position as a leader in the residential marketplace."

General contractor licensees who are renewing a license must complete a minimum of 40 points of CPD during their one-year licence term, including on-the-job, formal and informal learning. To qualify as acceptable training [PDF, 986 KB], more than 50% must be in Building Code, construction management and supervision, construction technology, customer service and home warranty insurance, or a combination of those four subjects.

(Starting in March this year, those applying for a new general contractor licence must demonstrate proficiency in seven areas related to residential construction. Those with a licence in good standing don't need to re-qualify under the new system; they must just ensure they meet the CPD requirements each time they renew.)

"We're pleased to be supporting builder education through partners like Canadian Home Builders Association and municipalities," says Cynthia Curll, manager of BC Hydro's New Home Program. "Last fall, along with our program partner FortisBC, we supported seven events focused on ENERGY STAR® for New Homes qualification, and all of them counted towards CPD units."

Online resources cover new rules, training details, tracking and reporting

The CPD system requires that every firm licensed as a general contractor must have one person on staff nominated to meet the CPD requirements [PDF, 1.39 MB] on its behalf. Acceptable training [PDF, 986 KB] may be in any of the following subject areas as long as it's directly related to residential construction:

  • Relevant enactments – Purpose of the BC Building Code and BC Fire Code (including the Vancouver Building Bylaw) and how they apply to residential construction.
  • Construction management and supervision – Project planning, cost estimating, scheduling, materials procurement, scope of work changes, contingency planning, site reporting, site safety and staff/contractor management.
  • Construction technology – Building durability, control of heat and moisture flow, building envelope features, mechanical systems and structural components, and the effect of climate and soil conditions.
  • Customer service and home warranty insurance – Maintaining positive customer relations ,implementing a customer service plan and responding to defects identified under a home warranty insurance policy.
  • Financial planning and budget management – Basic accounting, construction financing and contingency planning.
  • Legal issues – Includes contract and consumer protection law, the land title registry, obligations respecting insurance and home warranty insurance, builder liability, the Homeowner Protection Act and Builders Lien Act, dispute resolution, and the effect of provincial enactments and municipal bylaws.
  • Business planning and management – Strategic business planning, management and administration.
  • Business ethics

To pursue CPD credits, you must keep a three-year record [PDF, 812 KB] of yourr program, and must log in to your account with the BC Homeowner Protection Office to report the hours spent [PDF, 728 KB] on learning, active practice, and research and education. The HPO maintains an education registry that allows licensees to search for courses and find out how many points are awarded for each.

"With our support for energy efficient building we've long been engaged in helping builders increase their knowledge and skills," says Curll. "The new professional development requirements, coupled with increasing understanding of higher energy-efficiency new home standards, will improve the quality of new homes built and provide customers the opportunity to better manage their energy use."