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BCC Ruling No. 00–47-779

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. No. 00–47-779

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 3.3.3.2.(2), 3.3.3.3.(3) and 3.3.3.4.(1) and Clauses 3.4.3.1.(2)(c), (d) and 3.8.3.3.(5)(b) 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 Ms. Cathy Wood, Executive Director, Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills Inc. (OCLS), Nepean, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Richard Hewitt, Chief Building Official, City of Ottawa, Ontario, to determine whether the proposed renovation and conversion of an existing, detached building containing a Group C occupancy to a Group B, Division 3 care facility is required to comply with Sentences 3.3.3.3.(3) and 3.3.3.4.(1), Clauses 3.4.3.1.(2)(d), (c) and 3.8.3.3.(5)(b) and Sentence 3.3.3.2.(2) of the Ontario Building Code at 3041 Otterson Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Ms. Cathy Wood, Executive Director
Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills Inc.
Nepean, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Richard Hewitt
Chief Building Official
City of Ottawa

PANEL
Mr. Len King, Vice-Chair
Mr. Fred Barkhouse
Mr. John Guthrie

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
September 7th, 2000

DATE OF RULING
September 7th, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Doug Hardie, Principal
Douglas Hardie Architect Inc.
Ottawa, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Frank Bell
Supervisor, Part 3 Building Code Plan Examination
City of Ottawa
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Ms. Cathy Wood, Executive Director, Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills Inc. (OCLS), Nepean, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 for the renovation and conversion of a residential building into a care facility at 3041 Otterson Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently renovated a Group C, residential building (formerly a house) to facilitate its conversion to a Group B, Division 3 - Care occupancy. The structure is described as one storey in building height (with a basement) and has a building area of 419 m2. It is constructed of combustible material, is fully sprinklered and is equipped with a residential smoke detection system with multiple interconnected smoke detectors and multiple alarm broadcast.

It is intended that the building will house eight individuals with special needs, specifically persons whom are likely to be significantly disabled, both physically and mentally. The residents will, therefore, require assistance for most daily activities. The facility will be staffed 24 hours a day with three staff members in attendance from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and two in attendance from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. These staff members will continually be available to provide assistance to the residents of the care facility.

The areas of construction in dispute involve the width of corridors throughout the building and the width of the doors serving bedrooms two and three. Also in dispute is the width of a newly constructed access ramp to the main entrance of the facility and the door at the main entrance which does not provide a power operating device. In addition, the non-rated wall between bedrooms two and three is also at issue.

There are a total of three corridors in the building that provide access to common areas such as the kitchen and dining room. All of the corridors are 1321 mm in width and also provide access to the five bedrooms and two exit doors. There is one exit door at the main entrance, located in the front of the building, and another one leading to the side yard. In addition, there is a newly built, 1346 mm wide, wheelchair ramp leading to the main entrance door. The door to this entrance is not a power operated door. The existing doorways serving bedrooms two and three are 915 mm wide and the wall dividing these bedrooms is composed of 13 mm gypsum wallboard on wood studs and is not rated. There are however side mounted sprinkler heads built into this wall.

With the exception of the newly constructed ramp to the entrance door, all of the items in dispute existed within the residential building prior to the conversion of use.

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed renovation and conversion of an existing, detached building containing a Group C occupancy to a Group B, Division 3 care facility is required to comply with Sentences 3.3.3.3.(3) and 3.3.3.4.(1), Clauses 3.4.3.1.(2)(d), (c) and 3.8.3.3.(5)(b) and Sentence 3.3.3.2.(2) of the Ontario Building Code.

The first provision, Sentence 3.3.3.3.(3), requires that the corridors in a building containing a Group B, Division 2 or 3 occupancy be at least 1650 mm wide if the residents are not mobile. Many of the residents to be housed in the proposed care facility are completely immobile. However, all of the existing corridors serving the subject building are 1321 mm wide.

Sentence 3.3.3.4.(1), with few exceptions not applicable here, mandates that the doorways serving the patients or residents of care or detention occupancies must have a minimum width of 1050 mm. The existing doorways to bedrooms two and three are 915 mm wide. There are to be two residents in each room and it is intended that they would be carried or assisted out of the rooms by staff in an emergency situation.

Sentence 3.4.3.1.(2)(d) is a further requirement that reinforces Sentence 3.3.3.4.(1) above by stipulating that doorways serving patient or resident sleeping rooms be a minimum of 1050 mm in width. As noted above, the two bedrooms in question have doorway widths of 915 mm.

Sentence 3.4.3.1.(2)(c) requires ramps and stairs serving patient or resident sleeping rooms in a Group B, Division 3 occupancy to have a minimum width of 1650 mm. The newly built ramp at the main entrance is 1346 mm wide.

According to Clause 3.8.3.3.(5)(b), with one exception not applicable here, doors for barrier-free entrances to Group B, Division 2 or 3 occupancies are required to be opened automatically, i.e., to be equipped with a power operating device. The main entrance to the subject building will meet barrier-free requirements in terms of width, but it will not be equipped with a power door operator.

Sentence 3.3.3.2.(2) stipulates that a fire separation with a minimum fire-resistance rating of one hour be maintained between sleeping rooms and other adjacent rooms unless the floor assemblies are required to have a fire-resistance rating of 45 minutes. In this case, the walls can also have the same rating (45 min). The wall existing between bedrooms two and three is not a rated wall.

The building, however, is an existing structure, older than five years. Part 11 of the OBC is therefore applicable. At issue then is whether Part 11 dictates that the construction undertaken at the facility should be subject to the above provisions from other parts of the Code (outside of Part 11).

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence 3.3.3.2. Fire Separation

(2) In a Group B, Division 3 occupancy, walls between sleeping rooms and adjacent rooms shall be constructed as fire separations having a fire-resistance rating not less than 1 h, except that

the fire-resistance rating need not be more than 45 min where the floor assembly is not required to be more than 45 min.

Sentence 3.3.3.3. Corridors

(3) A corridor serving residents who are not ambulatory in a Group B, Division 2 or 3 occupancy shall be not less than 1650 mm (5 ft 5 in) wide.

Sentence 3.3.3.4. Doorway Width

(1) Except as permitted in Sentence 3.3.1.12.(11), the minimum clear width of doorways serving patients or residents shall be 1 050 mm (3 ft 5 in).
(See Appendix A.)

Clauses 3.4.3.1. Exit Width

(2) The required width of an exit shall be not less than

(c) 1650 mm (5 ft 5 in) for stairs and ramps serving patients' or residents' sleeping rooms in a Group B, Division 2 or 3 Occupancy,

(d) 1050 mm (3 ft 5 in) for doorways serving patients' or residents' sleeping rooms.

Clause 3.8.3.3. Doorways and Doors

(5) Except as permitted in Sentence (7), the door for the entrance described in Article 3.8.1.2. shall
be equipped with a power door operator in

(b) buildings of Group B, Division 2 or 3 major occupancies.

(See Appendix A.)

5. Applicant's Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that Ottawa-Carleton Lifeskills provides housing for developmentally challenged clients. While he indicated his belief that the house is subject to OBC Part 11, he stated that they had made every effort in their renovation to comply with Part 3 of the Code, specifically the construction requirements of Article 3.2.2.41. Several Code requirements though were not implemented due to structural or construction difficulties.

In addressing the perceived deficiency in corridor width, the Agent advised that it would be expensive and unnecessary to move the existing walls. The width of the corridors, at 1321 mm, is adequate for the occupants of the care facility. Similarly, the existing doorways of bedrooms two and three are located within load bearing walls and would therefore be difficult to widen. As they exist, the Agent argued, they provide sufficient access to the bedrooms by the occupants and staff. Moreover, the separation between the two bedrooms is satisfactory given the additional fire safety provided by the sprinkler heads installed in this wall.

Regarding the width of the ramp to the entrance door, even though it is new construction, the Agent saw no benefit to making it wider than the doorway opening. The ramp, although slightly narrower than required, as well as the existing doorway to the main entrance can be used by persons in wheelchairs and would therefore meet the needs of both occupants and visitors to the facility. In addition, the Agent argued, because the residents require assistance to move about, a staff member must always be present whenever a resident uses the main entrance door, thereby negating the need for a power door operator.

In conclusion, the Agent contended that since the building is covered by Part 11, compliance with the disputed OBC requirements is not necessary. Moreover, with the 24 hour presence of staff in the facility to offer assistance to residents and visitors, as needed, in addition to the fire safety measures provided, the subject facility will not only be safe, but easy and convenient for its occupants and visitors to use.

6. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that as a result of this conversion of major occupancy, the performance level of the building is reduced. While he may be sympathetic to the arguments of the Applicant, he has no authority to accept the proposals put forth. Even though the corridors and doors may be wider than usual in existing buildings, they do not meet the 1997 Ontario Building Code requirements for a Group B, Division C Care facility.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that at the recently renovated B3 occupancy located at 3041 Otterson Drive, Ottawa, Ontario:

  1. The fire separation for sleeping rooms and adjacent rooms outlined in Sentence 3.3.3.2.(2) is not required;
  2. Compliance is not required with Sentence 3.3.3.3.(3) concerning corridor width;
  3. Compliance is not required with Sentence 3.3.3.4.(1) regarding doorway width;
  4. The front door is not required to comply with Clause 3.8.3.3.(5)(b) as the door/entrance was not modified; and,
  5. The ramp width is required to comply with Clause 3.4.3.1.(2)(c) of the Code.



8. Reasons

i. The building is an existing structure that has undergone a change of use and conversion from Group C to B3. As a result, Part 11 of the OBC is applicable.

ii. The compensating measures proposed by the Applicant are sufficient to ensure that life safety is not jeopardized in this instance

iii. The performance level of the building is therefore satisfactorily addressed.

iv. As the access ramp is a newly constructed feature added to the facility, it is required to comply with the current Code provisions.

Dated at Toronto this 7th day in the month of September in the year 2000 for application number 2000-50.









_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Len King, Vice-Chair





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. Fred Barkhouse





_________________________________________________________________

Mr. John Guthrie