Exploring the Existing Regulatory Framework for Modular Construction in Canada

  • Haylestrom, S., Koe, T. (2021). Exploring the Existing Regulatory Framework for Modular Construction in Canada. Canadian Standards Association, Toronto, ON.

Executive Summary

There are many roles in every modular project – from the design team to the off-site manufacturers through transportation and the on-site installation and construction members – each representing an essential link in the modular construction process. Successful projects, particularly in the construction industry, require excellent communication amongst everyone involved, as well as a thorough understanding of the process and the roles and responsibilities within that process. Additionally, Canada is a large country with multiple jurisdictions, each implementing different regulations for the construction sector. This presents challenges for regulatory officials working with modular projects and necessitates a nationally minded, best practices approach for manufacturers operating in this industry.

Consistent, reliable evaluation practices and communication methods between constructors and regulatory officials are required to ensure that every modular construction project is executed efficiently. This report explores opportunities to improve various aspects of the modular construction process, examining different perspectives and approaches that may be used to help ensure modular construction is meeting building codes, adhering to standards, and passing inspections with efficiency and ease every step of the way.

A more uniform approach for all stakeholders, including regulatory officials, concerning the processes of permitting, inspections and approvals, and codes and standards as they apply to modular construction would greatly assist the industry. A thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each link in the project chain also holds the potential to lessen the workloads of Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) by improving these processes.

This report explores the current regulatory landscape and, based on interviews and consultations with key stakeholders in the modular industry, identifies key opportunities to support modular construction through new guidelines that address:

  • The modular construction process: who is involved, at what stage, and who is responsible for ensuring code compliance through building practices, inspections, and approvals at each step;
  • What modular construction building permit applicants must include in their application package;
  • What AHJs should expect to see in such a building permit application package;
  • Details that the drawings and documents of a modular construction project must include;
  • Standards and codes that are applicable and at what stages of construction they apply;
  • How certification programs, certification bodies, and third-party inspection agencies operate; and
  • Best practices in off-site and on-site inspections procedures.

This report aims to contribute to creating a clearer understanding of the regulatory landscape pertaining to modular construction. A continued analysis of modular construction practices and procedures will provide a better understanding of the processes currently in place and of the opportunities for the further enhancement of those processes, allowing both the public and stakeholders to feel more confident in modular construction as an effective, efficient building process.


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