News Release Archive

Better built buildings ... that's what Rick Fraser, manager for
building services of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality says
are the result of using letters of undertaking.

His office has used these letters to improve the process of
constructing commercial buildings for the past seven years. The
use of letters of understanding means professional designers and
their sub-consultants will sign letters assuring municipalities
that their designs will conform to the Nova Scotia Building Code.

He said he notices an improvement in the overall process as a
result. "Since we've been using the letters of undertaking, the
quality of the buildings has increased and there's a better
working relationship between everyone involved in the project:
the building owner, contractor, architects and building
officials," he said.

The rules are changing for designers, developers and the
construction community. Improvements to building code regulations
being introduced this month by the Department of Housing and
Municipal Affairs will go a long way in helping unravel the
tangle of red tape sometimes faced by those in the design and
construction sector.

There are three major new components to the Nova Scotia Building
Code Act Regulations. One involves the mandatory use of letters
of undertaking. These letters will allow building designers and
consultants to provide an extra measure of assurance to
municipalities that buildings will be designed and constructed
according to the building code regulations.

They will clearly define the responsibility for the design and
inspection of the work. Municipal building inspectors will
continue to carry out mandatory inspections required by the code.
The end result is less red tape, and a more efficient means of
constructing office towers, high rise buildings, shopping malls,
community centres - just about any building over 1800 square

"The letters assure us that the proper individuals are doing the
proper work on the building," said Mr. Fraser. "We now have a
level of communication with the designer we never had in the
past. And better communication means a better building - it's
more of a team approach to construction."

The second major component of the changes will see sprinkler
regulations fall under the building code regulations, instead of
the Fire Prevention Act administered by the Fire Marshal's
Office. Adding the sprinkler regulations to the building code
will simplify the process for owners, builders and developers, in
applying for and receiving building and occupancy permits. The
adoption of alternate compliance regulations is the third change
to building code regulations and will benefit people who wish to
upgrade and renovate heritage buildings and other existing

The building code regulations are recommended by the Nova Scotia
Building Advisory Committee. Membership includes the Office of
the Fire Marshal, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the
Disabled Persons Commission, the National Association of Women in
Construction, the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova
Scotia, the Construction Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova
Scotia Association of Architects, the Building Inspectors
Associations of Nova Scotia, the Carpenters Union, the Cape
Breton Construction Trades Council, and the Nova Scotia Home
Builders Association.

The new regulations have received support from the Nova Scotia
Association of Architects (NSAA) and the Association of
Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia (APENS) and came into
effect Oct. 28.

It's a change Rick Fraser said is long overdue. "The letters of
undertaking open up a whole new dialogue among designers,
building inspectors and owners. With so many people involved in
the construction of a building, it makes sense to have this type
of open communication."


Contact: Ted Ross  902-424-8046

trp                       Oct. 28, 1996 - 2:25 p.m.