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BCC Ruling No. 00-14-746

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #00-14-746

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 9.8.4.1.(1), 9.8.7.1.(1), (2) and 9.8.7.2.(2) 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. Gordon Naismith, Project Manager, Van Lagen Homes, Norwich, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Doug Robertson, Chief Building Official, Town of Tillsonburg, Ontario, to determine whether the as-built stair landing that measures 1093 by 915 mm and serves a stair 1093 mm in width, the lack of a second handrail in a 1093 mm wide stair and the absence of a railing at the lower flight (comprised of two risers) in the stair between the ground and second floor provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 9.8.4.1.(1), 9.8.7.1.(1) and 9.8.7.2.(2) respectively of the Ontario Building Code at the Robinson residence, 2 Eden Place, Tillsonburg, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Gordon Naismith, Project Manager
Van Lagen Homes
Norwich, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Doug Robertson
Chief Building Official
Town of Tillsonburg

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

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
March 29, 2000

DATE OF RULING
March 29, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Gordon Naismith, Project Manager
Van Lagen Homes
Norwich, Ontario

The Applicant


Mr. Doug Robertson
Chief Building Official
Town of Tillsonburg

The Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Mr. Gordon Naismith, Project Manager, Van Lagen Homes, Norwich, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 and has recently constructed a single, detached dwelling at 2 Eden Place, Tillsonburg, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently constructed a new single, detached Group C residential occupancy. The building is described as 167.3 m2 in building area and two storeys in building height.

As part of the construction the Applicant built an access to egress stair between the ground floor and the second floors. The stair is "L-shaped" and consists of two flights and a landing. The lower flight has two risers and is 915 mm (36") in width and the upper flight has twelve risers and is 1093 mm (43") wide.

The construction in dispute involves the width of the stair landing. The landing measures 1093 by 915 mm, while the width of the stairs in which the landing occurs is 1015 mm. As well, the upper flight of the stair is equipped with a single handrail and the lower flight has no handrails on either side.

3. Dispute

There are three issues in dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent. The first is whether the as-built stair landing that measures 1093 by 915 mm and serves a stair 1093 mm in width provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires a landing to be as wide and as long as the width of the stairs in which it occurs. The as-built landing is as wide as the width of the subject stairs, however, the length of the landing is less than the width of stairs.

The second issue is whether the subject stair, which measures 1093 mm (3' 7") in width but which has only one handrail, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.7.1.(1). Specifically, this provision stipulates that handrails must be installed on at least one side of stairs less than 1093 mm in width and on both sides of stairs 1093 mm in width or greater. As noted, the stairs in question are 1093 mm in width but have only one handrail.

The third issue pertains to whether the absence of a railing at the lower flight (comprised of two risers) provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.7.2.(2) of the Ontario Building Code. Sentence 9.8.7.2.(2) mandates that a continuous handrail must be installed throughout the length of a stairway, including landings. The stair in question does not have a continuous handrail throughout its entire length.

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence 9.8.4.1. Dimensions of Landings

(1) Landings hall be at least as wide and as long as the width of stairs in which they occur, except that

(a) the length of landing for exterior stairs serving not more than 1 dwelling unit need not exceed 900 mm (2 ft 11 in), and

(b) the length of landing for all other stairs in a straight run need not exceed 1,100 mm (3 ft 7 in).

Sentence 9.8.7.1. Required Handrails

(1) Except as permitted in Sentences (2) and (3), a handrail shall be provided on

· at least one side of stairs less than 1 100 mm (3 ft 7 in) in width,

· two sides of stairs 1 100 mm (3 ft 7 in) in width or greater, and

· two sides of a curved stair used as an exit.

(2) Handrails are not required for stairs within dwelling units having not more than 2 risers, or for exterior
stairs having not more than 3 risers and serving not more than one dwelling unit.

Sentence 9.8.7.2. Continuous Handrail

(2) Except as provided in Sentence (2), at least one handrail shall be continuous throughout the length of
the stairway, including landings, except where interrupted by

(a) doorways, or

(b) newel posts at changes in direction.

5. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that there are two ways to make the present situation comply with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1). The first would be to reduce the width of the stair and the second would be to increase the length of the landing by reducing the depth of the stair run. He argued that "reducing the width of the stair to match the depth of the landing does not serve any reasonable purpose." The applicant felt that because of the constraints at the top and bottom of the stairway, it would not be possible to alter the size of the landing. Moreover, the option of reducing the depth of the stair run would not result in a safer solution, he argued.

In addition, the Applicant stated that the current size of the landing provided superior appearance and functionality and thus he indicated that increasing the size of the landing would not be necessary. He argued that this situation was "minor," as the width difference of the stairs involved was only a few inches. It was further noted that the stairs in question have a "90 degree" turn in the landing which adds to their safety. Full compliance with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) is more essential, he asserted, when considering a straight stair.

Regarding the issue of the second handrail, the Applicant conceded that an extra railing on the opposite side could be required and was willing to comply if necessary. However, he noted that the stairs were exactly at the 1093 mm (3' 7") threshold.

On the issue of the continuous handrail, the Applicant argued that since the lower flight consisted of only two stairs Sentence 9.8.7.1.(2) allowed the handrail requirements to be waived. However, he also acknowledged that the two flights together constituted one continuous stair.

6. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that not only does the size of the landing not comply with requirements of the Ontario Building Code (OBC), but the handrails provided also are not in conformance with Code.

He noted that the OBC clearly states that the length and width of a landing shall be equal to the width of the stair in which it occurs. Therefore, either the landing length or the stair width must be adjusted such that the requirements of Sentence 9.8.4.1 (1) are satisfied.

In reference to Sentence 9.8.7.1.(1), the Respondent argued that since the subject stairs are 1093 mm (3' 7") in width, handrails are required on both sides, and not just one as has been built. As well, he indicated that a handrail continuing from the landing newel post to the ground floor was necessary as per Sentence 9.8.7.2.(2). He noted that the exemption for handrails in OBC 9.8.7.1.(2) was for entire stairs within a dwelling unit with two risers or less, and not for flights within a stair.

Lastly, the Respondent stated that he would be satisfied if a solution could be reached, but indicated that he felt he did not have the authority to approve the constructed stairs.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as-built stair landing measuring 1093 by 915 mm and serving a stair 1093 mm in width provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code.

It is also the decision of the Building Code Commission that a second handrail is not required in the subject stairs, as the said construction provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.7.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code.

It is also the decision of the Building Code Commission that the existing handrail, which is omitted at the lower flight (comprised of two risers) in the stair between the ground and second floor does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.7.2.(2) of the Ontario Building Code.

8. Reasons

  1. The width of the stairwell and the smallest dimension of the landing both exceed minimum requirements in the Code.
  2. The existing construction of the landing is within accepted tolerances, therefore, the second handrail is not necessary.
  3. The handrail must be continuous throughout the entire length of the stair as required in Sentence 9.8.7.2.(2).



Dated at Toronto this 29th day in the month of March in the year 2000 for application number 2000-12.




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Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate





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Mr. Fred Barkhouse




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Mr. James Lischkoff