Skip to content
You are here > Home > Your Ministry > Ontario Building Code > Appeals & Approvals > Building Code Commission > Rulings of the Building Code Commission > 2000 > BCC Ruling No. 00-08-740

Follow us

BCC Ruling No. 00-08-740

Email this page

BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #00-08-740

IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1) and Article 9.8.8.5. of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99 and 597/99 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Doug Dean, President, Bricker Building Ltd., Oakville, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Frank Asta, Chief Building Official, Town of Oakville, to determine whether the as-installed ornamental metal guards and rails, that include pickets ranging in thickness from 13 to 31 mm and sections of scroll pattern, and that have triangular openings (large enough to insert a spherical object 100 mm in diameter) formed by the stair tread and riser and the bottom cord of the railing provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.8.5. and Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1) respectively of the Ontario Building Code at 76 Chancery Lane, Oakville, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Doug Dean, President
Bricker Building Ltd.
Oakville, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Frank Asta
Chief Building Official
Town of Oakville

PANEL
Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate
Mr. James Lischkoff
Mr. Fred Barkhouse

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
February 17th, 2000

DATE OF RULING
February 17th, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Doug Dean, President
Bricker Building Ltd.
Oakville, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. Frank Asta
Chief Building Official
Town of Oakville
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Doug Dean, President, Bricker Building Ltd., Oakville, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct a single detached dwelling at 76 Chancery Lane, Oakville, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The Applicant has recently constructed a Group C residential building which is described as two storeys in building height and 313.2 m2 in building area.

The construction in dispute involves the wrought iron guards installed on both sides of the stairs leading to the second floor and in the open second floor hallway. The Applicant, upon request of the home owner, has used a customized, decorative design for the subject guards. The guard contains two distinct patterns. The predominant one consists of a scroll design that is repeated in sections measuring approximately 1.22 m in width. (There is apparently no space in between the scrolling metal members that would accommodate a spherical object 100 mm in diameter.) Separating the scroll panels are a series of vertical 13 mm thick cylindrical balusters each with several sets of decorative cast iron knobs. These knobs extend the picket's width by 9 mm on each side, thereby increasing its total width at these locations to 31 mm. The decorative knobs are placed in an alternating pattern on each picket, and thus the protrusions on each picket caused by the knobs do not coincide with the knobs on adjacent pickets on a horizontal level.

Both the scrolling pattern and the balusters are supported throughout the entire length of the guard by a bottom and top rail, which runs below and parallel to the handrail. On the horizontal surfaces, the bottom rail is located below 100 mm in height, as measured from the walking surface. The top (supporting) rail is roughly 800 mm in height. (The handrail is measured at 900 mm to its top.) On the stairs, the rail at the bottom forms one side of a triangle with the stair tread and riser comprising the other two sides. These openings are large enough to insert a 146 mm diameter spherical object.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is wether the as-installed ornamental metal guards and rails, that include pickets ranging in thickness from 13 mm to 31 mm and sections of scroll pattern, and that have triangular openings (large enough to insert a spherical object 100 mm in diameter) formed by the stair tread and riser and the bottom cord of the railing provides sufficiency of compliance with Article 9.8.8.5. and Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1) respectively of the Ontario Building Code.

The former provision stipulates that guards must not be designed in such a way as to facilitate climbing between 100 mm and 900 mm above the floor level. At issue, therefore, is whether the design of the guard facilitates climbing within this range. Among the specific aspects of the guard's design that must be examined in order to address this question is whether the scroll pattern within the subject guard produces a ladder effect that could facilitate climbing and whether the 9 mm protrusion on the pickets also contributes to their climbability.

Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1), regulates the size of openings in required guards. According to this provision the size of the guard openings must be small enough to prevent passage of a spherical object having a diameter of more than 100 mm, unless such openings can be shown that they are not a hazard. Since the subject triangular openings permit the passage of a 146 mm sphere the issue to be determined is whether they represent a hazard.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1) - Openings in Guards

    1. Except as provided in sentence (2), openings through any guard which is required by Article 9.8.8.1. shall be of a size which will prevent the passage of a spherical object having a diameter of more than 100 mm (4 in) unles sit can be shown tha tthe location and size of penings which exceed this limit do not represent a hazard. (See A-9.8.8.4.(1) and (2) in Appendix A.)

Article 9.8.8.5. - Design to Prevent Climbing

    1. Guards required by Article 9.8.8.1. and serving buildingsof residential occupancy shall be designed so that no member, attachment or opening located between 100 mm (4 in) and 900 mm (2 ft 11 in) above the floor or walking surface protected by the guard will facilitate climbing.

  1. Applicant's Position

At the outset the Applicant offered an explanation as to how the disputes arose. In his opinion, he felt that there had been an understanding reached between himself and the building inspector regarding conformity of the guard (which the homeowners had a hand in designing). This agreement was based on an examination of a sample section prior to installation. During subsequent inspections, however, the Respondent then took the view that the guard was deficient.

On the issue of a climbability, the Applicant acknowledged that the sections containing the scrolling pattern could facilitate climbing. He offered that those areas could be covered with plexiglass. He submitted, however, that the vertical balusters with their ornamentation should not be considered as facilitating climbing. He argued that if the subject balusters were seen as climbable "then every tuned wood spindle with any type of contour along its shaft with any type of staggered pattern would then be in dispute".

The Applicant stated that some common sense was necessary when applying the Building Code. For example, he noted that on some stairs (including the present one) it is possible to climb all the way up on the outside of the railing by standing on the tread overhang or that a small child could fall through open risers in other stairs. However, these two issues which he argued could be more hazardous than balusters with ornamentation are not prevent by the Code.

Regarding the issue of the triangular opening, the Applicant submitted that the space looks larger than it actually is. He noted that any spherical objects with a diameter of 146 mm or less could fit in the triangular opening. Further, he argued that the location of the opening, tucked into the rigid confines of a right angle corner, make the space quite difficult for a child to actually get their head into. Moreover, the opening is made even less accessible due to the 18 mm thick carpet on the stairs.

For the above reasons, the Applicant concluded by stating that, in his view, the as-built guard and railing are not a hazard and provide sufficiency of compliance with the Ontario Building Code.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the scrolling pattern is very tempting to climb and the balusters could also be climbed. Therefore, in his view, the guard does not conform with Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1). He stated that the climbability of the guard concerned him especially since the vertical drop is approximately 3 m. He also expressed concern about the proposal to put plexiglass on the guard since, as he argued, it could easily be removed and is not a permanent solution.

The Respondent also stated the triangular openings represent a hazard because they are large enough to insert a 146 mm in diameter spherical object, well in excess of the 100 mm maximum set out in Article 9.8.8.5.

Lastly, the Respondent stated that he hoped the Building Code Commission could offer the parties some guidance on these issues.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as-installed ornamental guards and rails do not comply with Sentence 9.8.8.4.(1) and Article 9.8.8.5. of the Ontario Building Code at 76 Chancery Lane, Oakville, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

a) The triangular openings on the stairs exceeds the 100 mm criteria.

b) The scroll pattern facilitates climbing.

c) The rail beneath and parallel to the top rail is within 900 mm of the walking surface.


Dated at Toronto this 17th day in the month of February, in the year 2000, for application number 2000-08.





____________________________

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate





_______________________

Mr. James Lischkoff





__________________________

Mr. Fred Barkhouse