MEMO TO: John Kenward
FROM: Marc Denhez
RE: Possible Amendments to the CHBA Code of Ethics
I have been asked to look at possible updates for the CHBA Code of Ethics. The intent is not to turn
the Code on its head (it is in widespread use, and is well-known even beyond the industry); there are,
however, updates which can be profitably inserted. The following are suggestions.
The Code of Ethics refers to Members complying with the National Building Code (NBC).
At the time that the Code of Ethics was first adopted, the NBC was almost unique. Now there
are many codes (including separate codes for fire and plumbing), as well as provincial codes.
It would therefore be more appropriate to refer to “applicable” codes.
A generation ago, the word “planning” meant community planning; today, it also includes
The Code of Ethics refers to Members dealing justly with their employees, subcontractors,
and suppliers. Some people think that “suppliers” refers only to providers of materials –
forgetting that e.g. professionals (architects, engineers, consultants etc.) are “suppliers” too
(suppliers of services). A clarification would be helpful.
Although the Code of Ethics refers to customers, it does not actually refer to one of the
CHBA’s most cherished ideals, namely that Members stand behind their work or product
(e.g., warranty). This could be usefully clarified.
The Code of Ethics refers to Members exchanging information and encouraging research –
but reflects no commitment to technical advances (a broader concept than just “techniques”).
This could be usefully clarified.
There is some confusion over the wording of the section that says that “Members shall uphold
the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for the services which they render.”
Who are “they”? If “they” refers to Builder Members, what is the intent? Is it that they won’t
underprice (“dump”) their houses on the market? If so, then this unusual provision has not
been explained. If “they” refers to Supplier Members, isn’t the section redundant, in light of
the existing obligation to “deal justly with their employees, subcontractors, and suppliers”?
If the real intent is simply to repeat that suppliers should be treated fairly, then the section is
repetitious and could be safely deleted.
Human Resource Development
The availability and development of skills has been a longstanding CHBA concern, that could
be usefully mentioned.
Health & Safety
The commitment to health and safety could also be more clearly articulated.
The Code of Ethics bans “all conduct or practice detrimental to the... industry, to the
Association, to the good name or reputation of any of its members, or its customers”. A
difficult situation is that of dealing with competitors (some of whom are fellow Members).
Although the CHBA is exploring standards of Good Business Practice, there are some HBAs
that appear particularly anxious to speak out about activities like Members pricing each
other’s plans, or otherwise taking liberties with the law of intellectual property. Elsewhere,
the courts are beginning to wade in on extreme competitive practices (e.g. the litigation
between Air Canada and Westjet, on allegedly stealing and reconstituting materials from
paper shredders). Without wishing to delve too deeply into this evolving and highly complex
area of law, it may nonetheless be useful to specify certain basic ideas about entrepreneurial
self-respect in a competitive world.
EXISTING CODE OF ETHICS PROPOSED COMMENT
Members shall comply with the National Building Code of Members shall work toward the improvement of applicable It is now unnecessary to refer to
Canada as a minimum standard for construction and shall building codes. “compliance”, which is a legal
work toward its improvement in the interests of structural requirement. Different provinces/
sufficiency, safety, and health. territories have different codes (and
some may have more than one).
Members shall plan their sites and homes to conform to the Members shall plan their sites and homes to conform to the Reference to environment.
principles of good community planning. principles of good community planning and support for the
Members shall deal justly with their employees, Members shall deal justly with their employees, subcontractors, Clarifies that “suppliers” provide more
subcontractors, and suppliers. and suppliers of goods and services. than just materials (e.g., professionals).
Members shall deal honestly and fairly with their customers. Members shall deal honestly and fairly with their customers., and Adds provision alluding to warranty etc.
stand behind the quality of their work and service
Members shall cooperate to extend the effectiveness of the Members shall exchange information and experience, and This adds a commitment to technical
Association by exchanging information and experience, and encourage research on materials, technical advancements advancement.
encourage research on materials and techniques in order to and building techniques in order to provide the best value for
provide the best value for their customers. their customers.
Members shall uphold the principle of appropriate and [Deleted] This section was arguably repetitious,
adequate compensation for the services which they render. in light of the above commitment to
deal justly with suppliers.
Members shall avoid all conduct or practice detrimental to the Members shall avoid all conduct or practice detrimental to the [No change]
home building industry, to the Association, to the good name home building industry, to the Association, to the good name or
or reputation of any of its members, or its customers. reputation of any of its members, or its customers.
Members shall commit to continuing learning through New provision for skills development
[New] human resource policies and practices, including etc.
employment practices which treat employees as assets.
[New] Members shall actively promote health and safety principles New provision for safety.
[New] Members shall treat their competitors, including their New provision to treat competitors with
property and ideas, with respect. dignity.
These responsibilities are freely and solemnly assumed as These responsibilities are freely and solemnly assumed as they [No change]
they form part of an obligation as Members of the Canadian form part of an obligation as Members of the Canadian Home
Home Builders’ Association. Builders’ Association.