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BCC Ruling No. 00-18-750

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. No. 00-18-750

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99, 597/99 and 205/00 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Don Desrocher, Vice-President, 1147771 Ontario Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Yaman Uzumeri, Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, Ontario, to determine whether the as-built landings that are not as long as the width of the stairs they serve provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at units 15, 15a, 17 and 17a, Boulton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Don Desrocher, Vice-President
1147771 Ontario Ltd.
Toronto, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Yaman Uzumeri
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto

PANEL
Dr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair)
Mr. Michael Steele
Mr. Robert De Berardis

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
June 14, 2000

DATE OF RULING
June 14, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Rick Mori, Senior Associate
Leber/Rubes Inc., Consulting Engineers
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Ted Marek, Senior Inspector
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Mr. Don Desrocher, Vice-President, 1147771 Ontario Ltd., Toronto, Ontario, has received an order to comply under the Building Code Act, 1992 to remedy certain alleged deficiencies regarding the as-built stairways within four recently constructed residential units at 15, 15a, 17 and 17a, Boulton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently constructed a Group C - residential townhouse complex consisting of four units. Each unit is two and a half storeys in building height, 139.41 m2 (1500 ft2) in building area, and of combustible construction.

The construction in dispute involves the dimensions of landings serving the interior stairs of each unit.

The subject units are referred to as unit 15, 15a, 17, and 17a. There are two landings in each of the four units, one located at the stairs leading from the ground floor to the second floor and the other located at the stairs leading from the second floor to the third floor. Each landing is at the base of the stair run and two risers up from the floor level it serves. The dimensions of the subject landings are as follows:

UNIT

FIRST FLOOR
STAIR WIDTH

LANDING SIZE
(W X L)

SECOND FLOOR
STAIR WIDTH

LANDING SIZE
(W X L)

15

915 mm (845)

960 mm X 820 mm

915 mm (845)

960 mm x 870 mm

15A

910 mm (828)

920 mm X 810 mm

940 mm (860)

990 mm x 840 mm

17

918 mm (848)

920 mm X 800 mm

915 mm (845)

990 mm x 880 mm

17A

900 mm (840)

920 mm X 800 mm

940 mm (870)

980 mm x 830 mm

According to the Applicant, the clear width of the subject stairs, when measured between the stringers, is less than the overall (wall face to wall face) width. The measurements between the stringers have been provided in the parentheses next to the stair widths.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the as-built landings that are not as long as the width of the stairs which they serve provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code.

Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) governs the dimensions of landings. According to this provision, with two exceptions not applicable here, a landing must be at least as long and as wide as the width of the stairs in which they are located. Neither of the landings in the four units in dispute have a length equal to or greater than the width of the stairs that they serve.

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) Dimensions of Landings

  1. Landings shall be at least as wide and as long as the width of stairs in which they occur, except that
    1. the length of landing for exterior stairs serving not more than 1 dwelling unit need not exceed 900 mm (2 ft 11 in), and
    2. the length of landing for all other stairs in a straight run need not exceed 1,100 mm (3 ft 7 in).

5. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the landings, as constructed, meet the intent of the Code and do not pose a life or fire safety hazard to the occupants.

At the outset of the hearing it was acknowledged that, under the Ontario Building Code, the width of a stair is the basis for determining the landing size. The Code, however, does not specifically define the term "stair width". The Applicant submitted that "(f)or exiting purposes, the Code specifies how to measure the width. Sentence 9.8.3.3.(1) states '...stairs used by the public shall have a width measured between wall faces or guards, of not less than 900 mm (2 ft 11 in)'. However, Article 9.8.7.6. permits encroachments into this width for handrails and construction below handrails of 100 mm (4 in) on each side. Thus, the effective width of the stair (width of stair tread or clear width between stringers) could be 700 mm". He went on to argue that all of the landings in dispute exceed this measurement.

The Agent continued that the intent of the Code in governing stair width is to ensure that the width of the means of egress does not decrease in the direction of exit travel. This is clearly stated in the Uniform Building Code where it reads "(e)very landing shall have a dimension measured in the direction of travel not less than the width of the stairway" (UBC 1997, 1003.3.3.5 Landings). In dwelling units, however, the governing factors for assessing a landing size are the safety of use and functionality of the landing (i.e. for the purpose of moving furniture), rather than for exiting purposes. In this respect, the Agent emphasized that the width of the subject stairs is larger than that required by Code and, although the Code does not allow for a reduction in landing size in this instance, there is no hazard created where a landing has a length that is less than the stair width but is equal to or greater than the minimum stair width required by the Code (i.e. 700 mm, as noted above). No problems have been reported so far as a result of the deficiency in stair width at this location.

The Agent concluded by advising that they could have used winders in this instance, but their belief was that the landings would be a safer design and, while their deviation from the literal Code is minimal (25 mm to 50 mm), they completely comply with the intent of the Code. It was suggested that, for the reasons discussed above the minimal deficiencies in this case should be accepted.

6. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the plans presented with the application for building permits showed winders instead of landings. He further stated that the Code is clear in this regard and the landings, as constructed, do not meet minimum dimensions prescribed. He is, however, willing to uphold the Commission's ruling in this matter, whatever it may be.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as-built landings that are not as long as the width of the stairs that they serve do not provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 9.8.4.1.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at units 15, 15a, 17 and 17a, Boulton Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

8. Reasons

i. The landings, as constructed, do not comply with the intent of the OBC. A basic principle of the Code is that the width of the means of egress does not decrease in the direction of exit travel. This Code principle of egress width is measured from either wall face to wall face or door width, and is not measured between handrails and other allowed projections. In the subject stairs, the distance between wall faces is decreased at the landings.

ii. The Applicant has offered no compensation in order to achieve sufficiency of compliance.

Dated at Toronto this 14th day in the month of June in the year 2000 for application number 2000-18.



_________________________________________________________________

Dr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Michael Steele





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Robert De Berardis