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BCC Ruling No. 11-05-1278

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Ruling No. 11-05-1278
Application No. B 2010-35

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 Articles 3.7.1.1., 9.5.3.1. and 9.8.4.5. of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the Building Code).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Frances Bates, Homeowner, for the resolution of a dispute with Jim Laughlin, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, to determine whether the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5 and whether the ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON

RESPONDENT

Jim Laughlin
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Toronto

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

March 10, 2011

DATE OF RULING

March 10, 2011

APPEARANCES

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON
The Applicant

Sam Sarkhosh
Building Inspector
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992, to remedy certain alleged code contraventions at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

The subject building is a 2 storey, noncombustible, Group C occupancy building, with a building area of 2590 m². The subject residential building is equipped with a sprinkler system, fire alarm system and standpipe and hose system. However, the dispute involves only one of the loft suites located within the building at 347 Sorauren Ave. The subject suite is approximately 48 m² in building area and contains a mezzanine with an approximate floor area of 8 m².

The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

Also at dispute is Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code, which requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units to conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

The dispute before the commission revolves around the as-constructed spiral staircase serving the mezzanine and the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine and whether they provide sufficiency of compliance with the Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

9.8.4.5. Winders
  1. (1) Stairs within dwelling units are permitted to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided,
    1. (a) the winders turn through an angle of not more than 90°,
    2. (b) individual treads turn through an angle of not less than 30° or not more than 45°, and
    3. (c) adjacent winders turn through the same angle.

  2. (2) Where more than one set of winders described in Sentence (1) is provided in a single stairway between adjacent floor levels, such winders shall be separated in plan by at least 1 200 mm.
3.7.1.1.  Room and Space Height
  1. (1) The height of every room and space shall be sufficient so that the ceiling or ceiling fixtures do not obstruct movement or activities below.
  2. (2) The unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3.
9.5.3.1.  Ceiling Heights of Rooms or Spaces
  1. (1) The ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units shall conform to Table 9.5.3.1.
  2. (2) Areas in rooms or spaces over which ceiling height is not less than the minimum specified in Table 9.5.3.1. shall be contiguous with the entry or entries to those rooms or spaces

3. Applicant’s Position

The Applicant submitted that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and to provide access to the suite’s furnace and water heater. The Applicant explained that the stairs were used only occasionally to store or retrieve at the mezzanine level and to access the mezzanine level for occasional maintenance such as changing the furnace filters. The Applicant reported that other than the above mentioned occasions, the stairs were not used to access the mezzanine space.

In response to questions, the Applicant submitted the height from the mezzanine floor to the ceiling was 216 cm. The Applicant submitted that the mezzanine space in and of itself was so small that she could not conceive of it being used as a bedroom, as in her opinion a bed could not be accommodated in a functional manner within the space. In response to questions, the Applicant informed the Commission that the widest point located on the mezzanine level was occupied by the suite’s mechanical equipment and which further, made the mezzanine uninhabitable as a bedroom.

The Applicant advised that for her purposes for the past 9 years, the space had only served as storage space and to access the suite’s mechanical equipment. The Applicant added that in 9 years of use of the spiral staircase, neither she nor anyone else had ever encountered a problem in using the subject stairs. The Applicant maintained that she was familiar with the staircase and never had any cause to worry about her safety or potential for injury. She added, in her opinion, the staircase is functional, visually appealing and safe.

The Applicant submitted that making alterations to incorporate a larger more conventional staircase would interfere with the functionality of the living space located on the main floor. The Applicant submitted that the living space, being relatively small, the location of a new larger stair would obstruct access to the laundry area and bathroom area. The Applicant expressed that in her view, the subject spiral staircase as built was safer than having the stairs removed and replacing them with a ladder, as she understood would be compliant with the Code.

The Applicant advised the Commission that as a senior on a fixed income the safer and more economical option was to have the spiral staircase remain as-constructed. However, the Applicant conceded that she was willing to make any adjustments to the staircase to achieve compliance.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the owner had constructed the mezzanine and installed a prefabricated spiral staircase to access the mezzanine without a permit. As a result, an Order to Comply was issued on April 20, 2008 requiring a building permit for the mezzanine construction. The Designate reported that a building permit application had been submitted by the owner. Upon review of the permit application, the Designate explained that an “Ontario Building Code Notice” was issued listing the provisions of the Code that had not been satifisfied. For the purpose of this hearing the Designate submitted that the provisions of the Code in dispute were Articles 9.8.4.5., 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

The Designate maintained that in his view the mezzanine could be used as a bedroom and as such the spiral staircase was not in compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. and as a result, the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine were not in compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario on condition that:

  1. The guard openings of the subject spiral staircase is made to comply with Sentences 9.8.8.5.(1) and (3), as referenced by Article 3.3.4.7. of Division B of the Building Code.

6. Reasons


  1. The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

    At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

    The Commission heard evidence and testimony that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and provides access to the suite’s mechanical equipment and that the subject spiral stairs are used occasionally to access storage items or to access the suite’s mechanical equipment for servicing or maintenance.

    Part 3 of the Building Code contains an exemption for stairs and ramps from meeting general dimensional requirements. The exemption outlined in Sentence 3.3.1.13.(2) applies to ramps and stairways intended for occasional use for servicing equipment and machinery, to serve service rooms and service spaces.

    It is the Commission’s opinion that the subject spiral staircase serving the existing mezzanine provides access to a space that functions similarly to a service room that is intended for occasional use.

  2. The Commission heard evidence that the floor area of the subject mezzanine is a relatively small area. It is the Commission’s opinion that given the design, limited floor space and the location of the mechanical equipment, the possible uses for this space are limited.

7. Commission Ruling

It is also the Decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

8. Reasons


  1. Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires that ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

    Part 11 of the Code, although not applicable in this case, would permit a reduced ceiling height of not less than 1950 mm for a floor area in any location that would normally be used as a means of egress, including an existing bedroom, under compliance alternative C98 for Article 9.5.3.1.

    Given that in this case the existing mezzanine functions similarly to a service space and that the design of the relatively small mezzanine limits the possible uses of this space; it is the Commission’s opinion that this space will not likely be used as a bedroom and therefore, the existing ceiling height is acceptable.
Dated at Toronto this 10th in the month of March in the year 2011 for application number
B 2010-35.

 

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

BCC Logo

Ruling No. 11-05-1278
Application No. B 2010-35

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 Articles 3.7.1.1., 9.5.3.1. and 9.8.4.5. of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the Building Code).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Frances Bates, Homeowner, for the resolution of a dispute with Jim Laughlin, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, to determine whether the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5 and whether the ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON

RESPONDENT

Jim Laughlin
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Toronto

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

March 10, 2011

DATE OF RULING

March 10, 2011

APPEARANCES

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON
The Applicant

Sam Sarkhosh
Building Inspector
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992, to remedy certain alleged code contraventions at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

The subject building is a 2 storey, noncombustible, Group C occupancy building, with a building area of 2590 m². The subject residential building is equipped with a sprinkler system, fire alarm system and standpipe and hose system. However, the dispute involves only one of the loft suites located within the building at 347 Sorauren Ave. The subject suite is approximately 48 m² in building area and contains a mezzanine with an approximate floor area of 8 m².

The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

Also at dispute is Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code, which requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units to conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

The dispute before the commission revolves around the as-constructed spiral staircase serving the mezzanine and the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine and whether they provide sufficiency of compliance with the Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

9.8.4.5. Winders
  1. (1) Stairs within dwelling units are permitted to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided,
    1. (a) the winders turn through an angle of not more than 90°,
    2. (b) individual treads turn through an angle of not less than 30° or not more than 45°, and
    3. (c) adjacent winders turn through the same angle.

  2. (2) Where more than one set of winders described in Sentence (1) is provided in a single stairway between adjacent floor levels, such winders shall be separated in plan by at least 1 200 mm.
3.7.1.1.  Room and Space Height
  1. (1) The height of every room and space shall be sufficient so that the ceiling or ceiling fixtures do not obstruct movement or activities below.
  2. (2) The unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3.
9.5.3.1.  Ceiling Heights of Rooms or Spaces
  1. (1) The ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units shall conform to Table 9.5.3.1.
  2. (2) Areas in rooms or spaces over which ceiling height is not less than the minimum specified in Table 9.5.3.1. shall be contiguous with the entry or entries to those rooms or spaces

3. Applicant’s Position

The Applicant submitted that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and to provide access to the suite’s furnace and water heater. The Applicant explained that the stairs were used only occasionally to store or retrieve at the mezzanine level and to access the mezzanine level for occasional maintenance such as changing the furnace filters. The Applicant reported that other than the above mentioned occasions, the stairs were not used to access the mezzanine space.

In response to questions, the Applicant submitted the height from the mezzanine floor to the ceiling was 216 cm. The Applicant submitted that the mezzanine space in and of itself was so small that she could not conceive of it being used as a bedroom, as in her opinion a bed could not be accommodated in a functional manner within the space. In response to questions, the Applicant informed the Commission that the widest point located on the mezzanine level was occupied by the suite’s mechanical equipment and which further, made the mezzanine uninhabitable as a bedroom.

The Applicant advised that for her purposes for the past 9 years, the space had only served as storage space and to access the suite’s mechanical equipment. The Applicant added that in 9 years of use of the spiral staircase, neither she nor anyone else had ever encountered a problem in using the subject stairs. The Applicant maintained that she was familiar with the staircase and never had any cause to worry about her safety or potential for injury. She added, in her opinion, the staircase is functional, visually appealing and safe.

The Applicant submitted that making alterations to incorporate a larger more conventional staircase would interfere with the functionality of the living space located on the main floor. The Applicant submitted that the living space, being relatively small, the location of a new larger stair would obstruct access to the laundry area and bathroom area. The Applicant expressed that in her view, the subject spiral staircase as built was safer than having the stairs removed and replacing them with a ladder, as she understood would be compliant with the Code.

The Applicant advised the Commission that as a senior on a fixed income the safer and more economical option was to have the spiral staircase remain as-constructed. However, the Applicant conceded that she was willing to make any adjustments to the staircase to achieve compliance.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the owner had constructed the mezzanine and installed a prefabricated spiral staircase to access the mezzanine without a permit. As a result, an Order to Comply was issued on April 20, 2008 requiring a building permit for the mezzanine construction. The Designate reported that a building permit application had been submitted by the owner. Upon review of the permit application, the Designate explained that an “Ontario Building Code Notice” was issued listing the provisions of the Code that had not been satifisfied. For the purpose of this hearing the Designate submitted that the provisions of the Code in dispute were Articles 9.8.4.5., 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

The Designate maintained that in his view the mezzanine could be used as a bedroom and as such the spiral staircase was not in compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. and as a result, the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine were not in compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario on condition that:

  1. The guard openings of the subject spiral staircase is made to comply with Sentences 9.8.8.5.(1) and (3), as referenced by Article 3.3.4.7. of Division B of the Building Code.

6. Reasons


  1. The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

    At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

    The Commission heard evidence and testimony that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and provides access to the suite’s mechanical equipment and that the subject spiral stairs are used occasionally to access storage items or to access the suite’s mechanical equipment for servicing or maintenance.

    Part 3 of the Building Code contains an exemption for stairs and ramps from meeting general dimensional requirements. The exemption outlined in Sentence 3.3.1.13.(2) applies to ramps and stairways intended for occasional use for servicing equipment and machinery, to serve service rooms and service spaces.

    It is the Commission’s opinion that the subject spiral staircase serving the existing mezzanine provides access to a space that functions similarly to a service room that is intended for occasional use.

  2. The Commission heard evidence that the floor area of the subject mezzanine is a relatively small area. It is the Commission’s opinion that given the design, limited floor space and the location of the mechanical equipment, the possible uses for this space are limited.

7. Commission Ruling

It is also the Decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

8. Reasons


  1. Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires that ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

    Part 11 of the Code, although not applicable in this case, would permit a reduced ceiling height of not less than 1950 mm for a floor area in any location that would normally be used as a means of egress, including an existing bedroom, under compliance alternative C98 for Article 9.5.3.1.

    Given that in this case the existing mezzanine functions similarly to a service space and that the design of the relatively small mezzanine limits the possible uses of this space; it is the Commission’s opinion that this space will not likely be used as a bedroom and therefore, the existing ceiling height is acceptable.
Dated at Toronto this 10th in the month of March in the year 2011 for application number
B 2010-35.

 

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

BCC Logo

Ruling No. 11-05-1278
Application No. B 2010-35

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 Articles 3.7.1.1., 9.5.3.1. and 9.8.4.5. of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the Building Code).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Frances Bates, Homeowner, for the resolution of a dispute with Jim Laughlin, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, to determine whether the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5 and whether the ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON

RESPONDENT

Jim Laughlin
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Toronto

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

March 10, 2011

DATE OF RULING

March 10, 2011

APPEARANCES

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON
The Applicant

Sam Sarkhosh
Building Inspector
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992, to remedy certain alleged code contraventions at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

The subject building is a 2 storey, noncombustible, Group C occupancy building, with a building area of 2590 m². The subject residential building is equipped with a sprinkler system, fire alarm system and standpipe and hose system. However, the dispute involves only one of the loft suites located within the building at 347 Sorauren Ave. The subject suite is approximately 48 m² in building area and contains a mezzanine with an approximate floor area of 8 m².

The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

Also at dispute is Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code, which requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units to conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

The dispute before the commission revolves around the as-constructed spiral staircase serving the mezzanine and the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine and whether they provide sufficiency of compliance with the Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

9.8.4.5. Winders
  1. (1) Stairs within dwelling units are permitted to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided,
    1. (a) the winders turn through an angle of not more than 90°,
    2. (b) individual treads turn through an angle of not less than 30° or not more than 45°, and
    3. (c) adjacent winders turn through the same angle.

  2. (2) Where more than one set of winders described in Sentence (1) is provided in a single stairway between adjacent floor levels, such winders shall be separated in plan by at least 1 200 mm.
3.7.1.1.  Room and Space Height
  1. (1) The height of every room and space shall be sufficient so that the ceiling or ceiling fixtures do not obstruct movement or activities below.
  2. (2) The unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3.
9.5.3.1.  Ceiling Heights of Rooms or Spaces
  1. (1) The ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units shall conform to Table 9.5.3.1.
  2. (2) Areas in rooms or spaces over which ceiling height is not less than the minimum specified in Table 9.5.3.1. shall be contiguous with the entry or entries to those rooms or spaces

3. Applicant’s Position

The Applicant submitted that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and to provide access to the suite’s furnace and water heater. The Applicant explained that the stairs were used only occasionally to store or retrieve at the mezzanine level and to access the mezzanine level for occasional maintenance such as changing the furnace filters. The Applicant reported that other than the above mentioned occasions, the stairs were not used to access the mezzanine space.

In response to questions, the Applicant submitted the height from the mezzanine floor to the ceiling was 216 cm. The Applicant submitted that the mezzanine space in and of itself was so small that she could not conceive of it being used as a bedroom, as in her opinion a bed could not be accommodated in a functional manner within the space. In response to questions, the Applicant informed the Commission that the widest point located on the mezzanine level was occupied by the suite’s mechanical equipment and which further, made the mezzanine uninhabitable as a bedroom.

The Applicant advised that for her purposes for the past 9 years, the space had only served as storage space and to access the suite’s mechanical equipment. The Applicant added that in 9 years of use of the spiral staircase, neither she nor anyone else had ever encountered a problem in using the subject stairs. The Applicant maintained that she was familiar with the staircase and never had any cause to worry about her safety or potential for injury. She added, in her opinion, the staircase is functional, visually appealing and safe.

The Applicant submitted that making alterations to incorporate a larger more conventional staircase would interfere with the functionality of the living space located on the main floor. The Applicant submitted that the living space, being relatively small, the location of a new larger stair would obstruct access to the laundry area and bathroom area. The Applicant expressed that in her view, the subject spiral staircase as built was safer than having the stairs removed and replacing them with a ladder, as she understood would be compliant with the Code.

The Applicant advised the Commission that as a senior on a fixed income the safer and more economical option was to have the spiral staircase remain as-constructed. However, the Applicant conceded that she was willing to make any adjustments to the staircase to achieve compliance.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the owner had constructed the mezzanine and installed a prefabricated spiral staircase to access the mezzanine without a permit. As a result, an Order to Comply was issued on April 20, 2008 requiring a building permit for the mezzanine construction. The Designate reported that a building permit application had been submitted by the owner. Upon review of the permit application, the Designate explained that an “Ontario Building Code Notice” was issued listing the provisions of the Code that had not been satifisfied. For the purpose of this hearing the Designate submitted that the provisions of the Code in dispute were Articles 9.8.4.5., 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

The Designate maintained that in his view the mezzanine could be used as a bedroom and as such the spiral staircase was not in compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. and as a result, the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine were not in compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario on condition that:

  1. The guard openings of the subject spiral staircase is made to comply with Sentences 9.8.8.5.(1) and (3), as referenced by Article 3.3.4.7. of Division B of the Building Code.

6. Reasons


  1. The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

    At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

    The Commission heard evidence and testimony that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and provides access to the suite’s mechanical equipment and that the subject spiral stairs are used occasionally to access storage items or to access the suite’s mechanical equipment for servicing or maintenance.

    Part 3 of the Building Code contains an exemption for stairs and ramps from meeting general dimensional requirements. The exemption outlined in Sentence 3.3.1.13.(2) applies to ramps and stairways intended for occasional use for servicing equipment and machinery, to serve service rooms and service spaces.

    It is the Commission’s opinion that the subject spiral staircase serving the existing mezzanine provides access to a space that functions similarly to a service room that is intended for occasional use.

  2. The Commission heard evidence that the floor area of the subject mezzanine is a relatively small area. It is the Commission’s opinion that given the design, limited floor space and the location of the mechanical equipment, the possible uses for this space are limited.

7. Commission Ruling

It is also the Decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

8. Reasons


  1. Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires that ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

    Part 11 of the Code, although not applicable in this case, would permit a reduced ceiling height of not less than 1950 mm for a floor area in any location that would normally be used as a means of egress, including an existing bedroom, under compliance alternative C98 for Article 9.5.3.1.

    Given that in this case the existing mezzanine functions similarly to a service space and that the design of the relatively small mezzanine limits the possible uses of this space; it is the Commission’s opinion that this space will not likely be used as a bedroom and therefore, the existing ceiling height is acceptable.
Dated at Toronto this 10th in the month of March in the year 2011 for application number
B 2010-35.

 

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

BCC Logo

Ruling No. 11-05-1278
Application No. B 2010-35

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 Articles 3.7.1.1., 9.5.3.1. and 9.8.4.5. of Regulation 350/06, as amended, (the Building Code).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Frances Bates, Homeowner, for the resolution of a dispute with Jim Laughlin, Deputy Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, to determine whether the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5 and whether the ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON

RESPONDENT

Jim Laughlin
Deputy Chief Building Official
City of Toronto

PANEL

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

March 10, 2011

DATE OF RULING

March 10, 2011

APPEARANCES

Frances Bates
Homeowner
Toronto, ON
The Applicant

Sam Sarkhosh
Building Inspector
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. Particulars of Dispute

The Applicant has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992, to remedy certain alleged code contraventions at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

The subject building is a 2 storey, noncombustible, Group C occupancy building, with a building area of 2590 m². The subject residential building is equipped with a sprinkler system, fire alarm system and standpipe and hose system. However, the dispute involves only one of the loft suites located within the building at 347 Sorauren Ave. The subject suite is approximately 48 m² in building area and contains a mezzanine with an approximate floor area of 8 m².

The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

Also at dispute is Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code, which requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units to conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

The dispute before the commission revolves around the as-constructed spiral staircase serving the mezzanine and the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine and whether they provide sufficiency of compliance with the Code.

2. Provisions of the Building Code in Dispute

9.8.4.5. Winders
  1. (1) Stairs within dwelling units are permitted to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided,
    1. (a) the winders turn through an angle of not more than 90°,
    2. (b) individual treads turn through an angle of not less than 30° or not more than 45°, and
    3. (c) adjacent winders turn through the same angle.

  2. (2) Where more than one set of winders described in Sentence (1) is provided in a single stairway between adjacent floor levels, such winders shall be separated in plan by at least 1 200 mm.
3.7.1.1.  Room and Space Height
  1. (1) The height of every room and space shall be sufficient so that the ceiling or ceiling fixtures do not obstruct movement or activities below.
  2. (2) The unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3.
9.5.3.1.  Ceiling Heights of Rooms or Spaces
  1. (1) The ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units shall conform to Table 9.5.3.1.
  2. (2) Areas in rooms or spaces over which ceiling height is not less than the minimum specified in Table 9.5.3.1. shall be contiguous with the entry or entries to those rooms or spaces

3. Applicant’s Position

The Applicant submitted that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and to provide access to the suite’s furnace and water heater. The Applicant explained that the stairs were used only occasionally to store or retrieve at the mezzanine level and to access the mezzanine level for occasional maintenance such as changing the furnace filters. The Applicant reported that other than the above mentioned occasions, the stairs were not used to access the mezzanine space.

In response to questions, the Applicant submitted the height from the mezzanine floor to the ceiling was 216 cm. The Applicant submitted that the mezzanine space in and of itself was so small that she could not conceive of it being used as a bedroom, as in her opinion a bed could not be accommodated in a functional manner within the space. In response to questions, the Applicant informed the Commission that the widest point located on the mezzanine level was occupied by the suite’s mechanical equipment and which further, made the mezzanine uninhabitable as a bedroom.

The Applicant advised that for her purposes for the past 9 years, the space had only served as storage space and to access the suite’s mechanical equipment. The Applicant added that in 9 years of use of the spiral staircase, neither she nor anyone else had ever encountered a problem in using the subject stairs. The Applicant maintained that she was familiar with the staircase and never had any cause to worry about her safety or potential for injury. She added, in her opinion, the staircase is functional, visually appealing and safe.

The Applicant submitted that making alterations to incorporate a larger more conventional staircase would interfere with the functionality of the living space located on the main floor. The Applicant submitted that the living space, being relatively small, the location of a new larger stair would obstruct access to the laundry area and bathroom area. The Applicant expressed that in her view, the subject spiral staircase as built was safer than having the stairs removed and replacing them with a ladder, as she understood would be compliant with the Code.

The Applicant advised the Commission that as a senior on a fixed income the safer and more economical option was to have the spiral staircase remain as-constructed. However, the Applicant conceded that she was willing to make any adjustments to the staircase to achieve compliance.

4. Respondent’s Position

The Designate for the Respondent submitted that the owner had constructed the mezzanine and installed a prefabricated spiral staircase to access the mezzanine without a permit. As a result, an Order to Comply was issued on April 20, 2008 requiring a building permit for the mezzanine construction. The Designate reported that a building permit application had been submitted by the owner. Upon review of the permit application, the Designate explained that an “Ontario Building Code Notice” was issued listing the provisions of the Code that had not been satifisfied. For the purpose of this hearing the Designate submitted that the provisions of the Code in dispute were Articles 9.8.4.5., 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

The Designate maintained that in his view the mezzanine could be used as a bedroom and as such the spiral staircase was not in compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. and as a result, the ceiling height above and below the mezzanine were not in compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of the Building Code.

5. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed spiral staircase serving a mezzanine in an existing Group C, residential dwelling, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.4.5. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario on condition that:

  1. The guard openings of the subject spiral staircase is made to comply with Sentences 9.8.8.5.(1) and (3), as referenced by Article 3.3.4.7. of Division B of the Building Code.

6. Reasons


  1. The subject building falls within the scope of Part 3 of the Building Code. Stairs within residential dwellings are regulated through Article 3.3.4.7. of the Code, which requires stairs, handrails, and guards within dwelling units to conform to the appropriate requirements of Section 9.8. of the Code.

    At dispute is Article 9.8.4.5 which permits stairs to contain winders that converge to a centre point provided certain dimensional requirements are met.

    The Commission heard evidence and testimony that the existing mezzanine is used for storage and provides access to the suite’s mechanical equipment and that the subject spiral stairs are used occasionally to access storage items or to access the suite’s mechanical equipment for servicing or maintenance.

    Part 3 of the Building Code contains an exemption for stairs and ramps from meeting general dimensional requirements. The exemption outlined in Sentence 3.3.1.13.(2) applies to ramps and stairways intended for occasional use for servicing equipment and machinery, to serve service rooms and service spaces.

    It is the Commission’s opinion that the subject spiral staircase serving the existing mezzanine provides access to a space that functions similarly to a service room that is intended for occasional use.

  2. The Commission heard evidence that the floor area of the subject mezzanine is a relatively small area. It is the Commission’s opinion that given the design, limited floor space and the location of the mechanical equipment, the possible uses for this space are limited.

7. Commission Ruling

It is also the Decision of the Building Code Commission that the as constructed ceiling height of the mezzanine provides sufficiency of compliance with Articles 3.7.1.1. and 9.5.3.1. of Division B of the Building Code at 347 Sorauren Ave, Suite #205, Toronto, Ontario.

8. Reasons


  1. Sentence 3.7.1.1. of the Building Code requires that the unobstructed height in dwelling units and sleeping rooms in Group C occupancies shall conform to Subsection 9.5.3. Article 9.5.3.1. requires that ceiling heights of rooms or spaces in residential occupancies and live/work units conform to Table 9.5.3.1.

    Part 11 of the Code, although not applicable in this case, would permit a reduced ceiling height of not less than 1950 mm for a floor area in any location that would normally be used as a means of egress, including an existing bedroom, under compliance alternative C98 for Article 9.5.3.1.

    Given that in this case the existing mezzanine functions similarly to a service space and that the design of the relatively small mezzanine limits the possible uses of this space; it is the Commission’s opinion that this space will not likely be used as a bedroom and therefore, the existing ceiling height is acceptable.
Dated at Toronto this 10th in the month of March in the year 2011 for application number
B 2010-35.

 

Tony Chow, Chair
Susan Friedrich
Yaman Uzumeri