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You May Need To Hire An Architect For Your Vancouver Multiplex

You may need to hire an architect for a reason you've never considered: the role of the CRP. I'll explain what a CRP is, when and why you may need one, and why that's usually an architect.

simulated photo of a modern multiplex in Kitsilano, summer, zinc roof, white panel siding, wood planks

Owners planning to build a multiplex in Vancouver may find themselves scrambling to hire someone as the CRP - the Coordinating Registered Professional - just as they try to make a building permit application. Not having a CRP engaged at a suitable time could incur a significant delay to your project and a fee that you hadn't planned for.

First, I'll share some definitions from Division A Section 1.4 of the British Columbia Building Code (BCBC) and of the Vancouver Building By-Law (VBBL).

  • A registered professional is either a registered engineer or a registered architect.

  • A Coordinating Registered Professional (CRP) is defined as a registered professional retained to "coordinate all design work and field reviews of the registered professionals who are required for a project".

  • A Building Envelope Professional (BEP) is an engineer qualified to advise on the design of the building envelope, or an architect.

  • A multi-family building is a residential building with more than two principal dwelling units.

A structural engineer is required to design the structure of all buildings that are governed by Part 4, and any building that contains more than two principal dwelling units (i.e. a triplex or larger) is governed by Part 4.

(Refer to Division A, and Division C, )

A Building Envelope Professional is required to design and review the envelope of all residential buildings that are regulated under Part 5, and all multi-family buildings three or more storeys tall are governed by Part 5.

(Refer to Division A, and Division B, )

simulated photo of a modern multiplex in Kitsilano, summer, zinc roof, white panel siding, ocrten weathered steel siding

Triplexes, fourplexes, and so on that are are three storeys or taller will require a structural engineer and a BEP - and therefore require a Coordinating Registered Professional.

A registered professional is required to design and review all residential buildings that are regulated under Part 3, and all buildings four storeys or taller, or larger than 600 m² (6458 ft²) are governed by Part 3. (Refer to Division A, ) Meanwhile, the Professional Governance Act requires any multifamily 5-plex building or any residential building four storeys or taller to be designed and reviewed by an architect specifically.

Therefore, if you are planning a triplex or fourplex (or more) three storeys tall, there's no specific requirement for an architect but there IS a specific requirement for a CRP. You may therefore not have hired an architect yet be told by the city when making your building permit that you need a CRP.

What does a CRP do exactly? He or she ensures that appropriate registered professionals have been retained and that they commit to design and review all aspects of the project which need to be designed and reviewed by registered professionals. The CRP also is responsible for ensuring that everyone's designs work with each other - that they're coordinated.

Who can be a CRP? Either an engineer or an architect, but the CRP is nearly always an architect. I have worked only once on a project when an engineer performed the role of the CRP. Most engineers prefer to stick to their area of expertise, whereas architects are generalists by nature. They are far more comfortable acting as an umbrella discipline insofar as connecting the engineers' scopes of work.

simulated photo of a modern multiplex in Kitsilano, aerial view, summer, zinc roof, white panel siding, wood planks

Most of my experience in my career has focused on building envelope science - the study of the construction and performance of walls, roofs, and other components of buildings that separate "indoors" from "outdoors".

As part of my SAPPHR Strategy, the RAD Study determines what consultants are required for the project - including a CRP. Do you want assurance that you've got everyone on your team who needs to be there? Alternatively, what will you do when the city asks for the CRP's Schedule A? Whom will you ask, who would be able to step in? The CRP must be involved from the beginning of the project to give the assurance of coordination.

In addition to the legal requirement, a CRP helps ensure coordination in the project - which leads to far fewer costly changes during construction. Net zero, Passive House, and other high performance projects have the greatest need for reducing unnecessary costs.

illustrated of 3D document

You can download my SAPPHR Strategy guide using the link below. Inside, you'll find the overview of the methodical procedure I use for projects.

If you feel ready to move ahead with a multiplex project and want to see this process at work, please contact me for a free 30-minute Diagnostic Session using the button below.

photo of Daniel Clarke, architect



The information included in this article is to an extent generic and intended for educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute legal or professional advice. Thorough efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of the article, but having read this article, you understand and agree that Daniel Clarke Architect disclaims any legal liability for actions that may arise from reliance on the information provided in this article. I am an architect in BC, but readers are recommended to consult with their own architect on their specific situations before making any decisions or exercising judgement base on information in the article.



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