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BCC Ruling No. 14-03-1366

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Ruling No.: 14-03-1366
Application No.: B 2013-37
 

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION


IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, S.O. 1992, c. 23, as amended.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) of Division B, of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the “Building Code”).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Scott Higgins, for the resolution of a dispute with Bruce Poole, to determine whether the parts of the architectural design, that include suites that have an interior rear bedroom without an exterior window or skylight, provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, for the proposed construction of a seven storey Group C residential building for the Solstice Condominiums at 1291 Gordon Street, City of Guelph, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Scott Higgins
Vice President
2274237 Ontario Inc.
City of Waterloo, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Bruce Poole
Chief Building Official
City of Guelph, Ontario

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Marina Huissoon
Yaman Uzumeri

PLACE

City of Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

February 6, 2014

DATE OF RULING

February 6, 2014

APPEARANCES

Jack Keays
Project Manager
Sereca Larden Muniak Consulting Inc.
City of Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Jeremy Laur
Program Manager of Permit Services
City of Guelph, Ontario
Designate for the Respondent

Allan Larden
Larden Code
City of Toronto, Ontario
Additional Agent for the Applicant

Andrew Bousfield
Architect
ABA Architects Inc.
City of Waterloo, Ontario
Architect for the Applicant
Nicholas Rosenberg
Technical Services Specialist
City of Guelph, Ontario
and
Daewon Lee
Plans Examiner III
City of Guelph, Ontario
Additional Designates for the Respondent

 

RULING

 

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has applied for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct a new multi-storey residential building, the Solstice Condominiums, at 1291 Gordon Street, City of Guelph, Ontario. The dwelling units are being marketed as student housing.

The subject Group C occupancy building will be 3 029 m2 in building area and seven storeys in building height. Part 3 of Division B, of the Building Code, requires the design of the subject building to be of noncombustible construction and to include a sprinkler system, a standpipe and hose system and a fire alarm system.

The floor plans of the dwelling units show one or two bedrooms that do not have walls in common with any of the building’s exterior walls. These are referred to as “interior rear bedrooms”. There will be four unit designs on each floor and each one has a different layout. The pattern is repeated on each storey. The four layouts include a four-bedroom unit, where two of the bedrooms are interior rear bedrooms, a three-bedroom unit, where two of the bedrooms are interior rear bedrooms, and two different three-bedroom unit layouts, where one of the bedrooms in each layout is an interior rear bedroom. The interior rear bedrooms will be provided with fixed windows installed in openings located in a wall separating these bedrooms from the kitchen and living room areas. 

Sentence 3.7.2.1.(1), requires every room used for sleeping in any building to be provided with windows. Sentence 3.7.2.1.(1) also requires these windows to have areas conforming to Part 9. Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) requires the minimum window glass area for rooms used for sleeping to conform to Table 9.7.1.2.. The minimum unobstructed glass area for bedrooms is 5% of the area served. The objectives and functional statements attributed to this provision of the Building Code are in Supplementary Standard SA-1. They are OH7, which is to limit the probability that, as a result of the design or construction of a building, a person in the building will be unable to experience a view to the outdoors, and F102, which is to provide a view to the outdoors in buildings.

The issue at dispute relates to the location of the windows that serve these interior rear bedrooms. These windows are not located in an exterior wall. In particular, the dispute pertains to whether the views to the outdoors, referred to in OH7 and F102, can be provided by living room windows located in the exterior walls of the building through the interior windows for interior rear bedrooms.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

3.7.2.1. Window Areas

(1)  Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3) or otherwise permitted, every room used for sleeping in any building, and every principal room such as living room, dining room or combination of them in dwelling units shall be provided with windows having areas conforming to Part 9, except that Article 9.7.1.3 does not apply. 

9.7.1.2.  Minimum Window Areas
(1)  Except as required in Article 9.7.1.3. and Sentence (3), the minimum window glass area for rooms in buildings of residential occupancy or that are used for sleeping shall conform to Table 9.7.1.2.

Glass Areas for Rooms of Residential Occupancy - Forming Part of Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1)

Table 9.7.1.2.

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3
 Location  Minimum Unobstructed Glass Area With No Electric Lighting  Minimum Unobstructed Glass Area With Electric Lighting
Bedrooms and other finished rooms not mentioned above  5% of area served(1)  5% of area served(1)

 

3. Applicant’s Position

At the start of the hearing, an Agent for the Applicant made reference to a package of additional information that they wanted to present at the hearing. He said that in response to the Confirmation of Dispute submitted by the Respondent, the Applicant chose to increase several of the proposed window glass areas in the design of the subject building. The Architect’s material also included a computer-generated view to the outdoors from the interior rear bedrooms. He noted that these were the only changes to the previously submitted documents and that the room configuration in each unit has not changed. He added that copies of this additional information had been sent to the Respondent at the end of the previous month and that it has been included in a PowerPoint slide show that can be shown during hearing.


The Agent began by stating that the provision in dispute is Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code and that the subject windows are those to be provided for the interior rear bedrooms. He explained that Part 3 applies to the design of this building. The window provision that applies to rooms used for sleeping, Sentence 3.7.2.1.(1), simply states that they shall be provided with windows having areas conforming to Part 9. He added that the objectives and functional statements, attributed to both Sentence 3.7.2.1.(1) and Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1), include providing a view to the outdoors and limiting the probability a person will be unable to experience that view.

The Agent said that the Applicant believes the view to the outdoors can be provided by the living room windows. The Agent stated that the Building Code requires bedroom windows to have a minimum unobstructed window glass area of 5% of the areas served by the windows. He also noted that the minimum window glass area required for living and dining rooms is 10% of the area served. 
The Agent explained that in the most recent proposal, the subject bedroom interior windows have unobstructed glass areas that range from 22.5 – 33% of the bedroom areas served, and that the exterior windows providing the view to the outdoors have unobstructed glass areas that range from 16 – 17% of the living and dining room areas served. He argued that larger than required unobstructed glass areas have been provided and the functional statement of providing a view to the outdoors from within the interior rear bedrooms has been satisfied.

The PowerPoint presentation included a set of images that show computer-generated views to the outdoors experienced by looking through the interior window from within the various interior rear bedrooms. The images indicate that view to the outdoors is achieved by looking through the adjacent spaces, and then through the windows that serve these adjacent spaces. The view to the outdoors was modelled as if standing the centre of the room and also modelled the optimum views.

Another Agent for the Applicant added that the design is based on a borrowed light concept that uses the combination room parameters for openings between areas found in Part 9 of the Building Code. He said this concept is used by several municipalities in Ontario and the policies permit glazing in the openings, occupying minimum areas, in walls between two dependent areas.
In summary, the Agents argued that the view to the outdoors is provided to the interior rear bedroom windows through the living room windows. They believe this achieves the intent of the window provisions in the Building Code. He also noted that a recent Commission ruling determined that bedrooms with interior windows did comply with the Building Code because the interior windows did provide a view to the outdoors.

4. Respondent’s Position

A Designate for the Respondent began by confirming that the dispute is about the proposed suite designs and the location of the required windows for the interior rear bedrooms. He qualified that by saying that the dispute is not about the minimum unobstructed glass area for the bedroom served, rather, it is their interpretation that the window should be located in an exterior wall.

Another Designate for the Respondent added that he recognizes these proposed suite designs are based on policies used in other municipalities and that these policies are based on the combination room concept for windows. He stated that these are local policies and not Building Code requirements. He then spoke about the view to the outdoors objective attributed to Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) in Division B of the Building Code. He said it is their opinion that, in this case, there would not be a view to the outdoors from the required windows for the interior rear bedrooms. He explained that the lengthy distances between interior and exterior windows means there is no longer a view to the outdoor from the interior window. He argued that it becomes a view through a room, or two, to an exterior window that has a view to the outdoors.

The Designate added that the intended use of these suites is student housing and he is concerned about the care and control of the units. He explained that they expect that window coverings will be added on the outside of the interior windows for living and kitchen area privacy. He noted that objects may also obstruct the view, especially when the interior window looks out through the kitchen area.

The Designate also noted that, in spite of their opinion about the location of required bedroom windows, the City of Guelph has permitted, in other projects, the construction of these windows in an interior wall of one bedroom units. However, he said that the difference in those cases was that the distance between the interior and exterior windows was less and there were no care and control issues. 

The Designate said, in summary, that the Respondent is familiar with the different policies some municipalities use when they review interior window designs and his municipality will also consider interior window designs. However, in his opinion the proximity of the exterior window to the interior window is more important than unobstructed glass areas and openings in walls. He also considers the care and control of the space between the two windows when he makes this type of decision. In this case, the Designate does not believe that the intent of the Building Code has been met.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the parts of the architectural design, that include suites that have an interior rear bedroom without an exterior window or skylight, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, for the proposed construction of a seven storey Group C residential building for the Solstice Condominiums at 1291 Gordon Street, City of Guelph, Ontario.

6. Reasons

  1. The Commission heard that the proposed Group C occupancy building will exceed three storeys in building height and that the design and construction of the building must comply with Part 3 of Division B, of the Building Code.
    The Commission heard that the dispute concerns the design of the required windows that will be provided to interior bedrooms which are not on an exterior wall. Article 3.7.2.1. requires that every room used for sleeping in any building shall be provided with windows having an area conforming to Part 9, except that Article 9.7.1.3. does not apply.
    The Commission heard that the areas of the interior windows proposed meet or exceed the area requirements of Article 3.7.2.1. The Commission also heard that the proposed interior windows do provide a view through the suite to the outdoors.

    Compliance with Division B, of the Building Code, can be achieved using an alternative solution, as described in Clause 1.2.1.1.(1)(b), of Division A, that will attain the level of performance required when considering the objectives and functional statements attributed to the applicable acceptable solutions. The Commission heard that the alternative solution proposed by the applicant was not accepted by the Respondent.
    The objective found in Part 2, of Division A, of the Building Code, that is attributed with the window provisions in Article 3.7.2.1., of Division B, is OH7, and it is to limit the probability that as a result of the design, a person in the room will be unable to experience a view to the outdoors. The functional statement found in Part 2, of Division A, that is attributed with the window provisions in Article 3.7.2.1., of Division B, is F102, and it is to provide a view to the outdoors in buildings.

  2. The Commission also heard that the provision in dispute is Sentence 9.7.1.2.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code. That provision requires that the minimum window glass area for rooms in buildings that are used for sleeping shall conform to Table 9.7.1.2.. In Table 9.7.1.2., the minimum unobstructed glass area for bedrooms, is 5% of area served.
    The Commission heard that the window glass areas for the subject interior bedroom windows meet the technical requirements of this provision. However, the Respondent disputes the location of those required windows. The Respondent interprets the referenced windows to mean exclusively a window on an exterior wall.

  3. It is the opinion of the Commission that the requirements in Sentences 3.7.2.1.(1) and 9.7.1.2.(1) of Division B, of the Building Code, that every room used for sleeping shall be provided with a window having a minimum unobstructed glass area, does not specifically limit the location of the window to an exterior wall. Further, the provisions in the Building Code that would require a window to open to the outdoors do not apply to the subject building.

  4. The Commission has noted that the health objectives category, OH, in Part 2 of Division A, of the Building Code, which includes item OH7 (the view to the outdoors), also includes items concerning noise protection and privacy from adjacent spaces: OH3, OH3.1 and OH6. However, these three statements are not attributed with Article 3.7.2.1., of Division B. The absence of these objectives in relation to the provision of windows implies that noise protection and privacy from adjacent areas are not of concern in this matter.

 

Dated at the City of Toronto this 6th day in the month of February in the year 2014 for application number B 2013-37.

 

Tony Chow, Chair

Marina Huissoon

Yaman Uzumeri