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BCC Ruling No. 00-59-791

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #00-59-791

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences 8.2.1.4.(1), 8.2.1.6.(1) and 8.2.1.6.(2) 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. Ken Page, Owner, Pickering, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Brad Clark, Chief Building Official, Peterborough City County Health Unit, Peterborough, Ontario, to determine whether the construction of a deck, extending 2.13 m over a portion of an existing septic tank and the stairs serving the deck situated within 1.06 m of the existing filter bed, provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 8.2.1.6.(1) and (2) of the Ontario Building Code at 1821 Fire Route 12A - Pt. Lot 24, Conc. 13, Smith Ward, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Ken Page
Owner
Pickering, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Mr. Brad Clark
Health Inspector
Peterborough County-City Health Unit
Peterborough, Ontario

PANEL
Mr. Bryan Whitehead, Vice Chair
Mr. Bill Fellner
Mr. Doug Robinson

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
December 7th, 2000

DATE OF RULING
December 7th, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Tome Joore
Pickering, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant


Mr. Brad Clark
Health Inspector
Peterborough County-City Health Unit
Peterborough, Ontario
The Respondent

RULING

1. The Applicant

Mr. Ken Page, Owner, Ontario, has applied retroactively for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 for the construction of a stairway previously added to a exterior deck at his cottage at 1821 Fire Route 12A - Pt. Lot 24, Conc. 13, Smith Ward, Ontario.

2. Description of Construction

The Applicant received a building permit in 1994 to construct a Group C - residential cottage in the Township of Smith Ward. In 1995, before the construction of the cottage was completed, the Applicant added a stairway to the deck at the front of the cottage. The stairs were not included in the original plan submitted for the building permit, however, they were constructed after the final inspection of the sewage system by the then authority responsible for enforcing on-site septic regulations.

The cottage is serviced by a Class 4 sewage system consisting of a septic tank and a filter bed. The subject deck extends 2.13 m over a portion of the septic tank. There are six posts supporting the deck. Each post stands on a cement pad. Two posts have been constructed in close proximity to the side walls of the septic tank. The clearance between the deck and top of the septic tank is less than 1.5 m. Moreover, the deck also extends within 1.83 m from the filter bed and there is a stairway leading to the deck that is situated 1.06 m from the north-west corner of the filter bed.

The dispute involves the clearance distances maintained between the deck and the septic tank and between the stair and the filter bed.

 

3. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the construction of a deck, extending 2.13 m over a portion of an existing septic tank and the stairs serving the deck situated within 1.06 m of the existing filter bed, provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1) and 8.2.1.6.(2) of the Ontario Building Code.

Both Sentences 8.2.1.6.(1) and 8.2.1.6.(2) govern the minimum clearance distances that must be maintained between components of a Class 4 or 5 sewage system and structures or natural foundations. However, according to Sentence 8.2.1.4.(1), complying with these provisions can be waived where, in the case of soils with a percolation time of 10 min/cm or greater, it is proved that maintaining these distances are not necessary. In other words, compliance with the above provisions can be waived in certain circumstances, if it is proved that the operation and maintenance of a sewage system is not negatively effected as a result of lesser clearance distances than those required by the Code. Since the soil at the site under dispute has a percolation time of 10 min/cm, Sentence 8.2.1.4.(1) is therefore applicable.

According to Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1), the horizontal clearance distances between a treatment unit such as a septic tank and any structure or natural foundation must not be less than the values set out in Table 8.2.1.6.A.. As given in Table 8.2.1.6.A, the minimum clearance distance between a septic tank and a structure must be at least 1.5 m. The minimum clearance distances to be maintained between distribution pipes (a leaching bed or filter bed) and structures or natural foundations are provided in Table 8.2.1.6.B, referenced by Sentence 8.2.1.6.(2). As set out in this Table, the minimum clearance distance that must be maintained between a structure and any part of a bed must be 5 metres. As noted, the subject deck as constructed, extends 2.13 m over a portion of the septic tank. The distance between the stairs and the north-west corner of the filter bed is 1.06 m.

At issue is whether maintaining the clearance distances required by Sentences 8.2.1.6.(1) and 8.2.1.6.(2) would be unnecessary given the circumstances at the site.

 

4. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

8.2.1.4. Clearances

(1) Unless it can be shown to be unnecessary, where the percolation time is 10 minutes or greater, the location of all components within a sewage system shall be in conformance with the clearances listed in Articles 8.2.1.5. or 8.2.1.6.

Sentence 8.2.1.6. Clearances for a Class 4 or 5 Sewage System

(1) Except as provided in Sentences 8.2.1.4.(1) and (2), a treatment unit shall not be located closer than the minimum horizontal distances as set out in Table 8.2.1.6.A.

(2) Except as provided in Sentences 8.2.1.4.(1) and (2), a distribution pipe shall not be located closer than the minimum horizontal distances set out in Table 8.2.1.6.B. and these distances shall be increased when required by Sentence 8.7.4.2.(9).

5. Applicant's Position

The Agent for the Applicant stated that although the stairs were not included in the original plans submitted for the building permit and were added later, in the final inspection done in 1996 for occupancy permit, there was no mention of then built stairs as an unacceptable addition to the building.

The Agent continued that last summer the Applicant was granted a minor variance by Smith Ward's committee of adjustment that required setback reductions in the front and rear of his property. It was during these set back adjustments that the Chief Building Official required the Applicant to apply for a building permit to legitimize construction of the stairs. However, after an application was submitted by the Applicant, the Chief Building Official refused to grant a building permit unless the existing clearance distances between the deck and the septic tank and stairs and the filter bed were modified to meet the requirements of the Code or were approved by the Health Unit or by the Building Code Commission.

The Agent argued that, during the last five years of use, the sewage system has been functioning properly and there has been no problem associated with its maintenance. During this period, the septic tank has been pumped out several times without any difficulty in accessing to the tank, he emphasized.

The Agent concluded that although the Applicant would like to keep the deck and stairs as they are, he (the Applicant) would do whatever required to prevent any potential problem that may arise in the future.

6. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the existing clearance distances between the deck and septic tank do not meet the requirements of the OBC.

The Respondent argued that as far as the Health Unit is concerned, the deck is part of a structure, so it is required to maintain the same clearance distances with different components of a sewage system as a structure must. However, he also agreed that there are some situations where complying exactly with requirements of the Code is not possible. Moreover, such situations usually have little if any negative impact on the performance of a septic system. Indeed, he acknowledged that there has been no malfunctioning of the system due to the current clearance distances, nor any problem regarding the accessibility of the tank during the last five years of use.

Nevertheless, the Respondent concluded by reiterating that the required clearances were not being met and they had no choice but to refuse the Applicant's submission.

7. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the current clearances from the existing septic tank and deck and from the exiting distribution pipe to the stair and deck provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentences 8.2.1.6.(1) and 8.2.1.6.(2), on condition that:

    1. The supports for the deck in the vicinity of the tank are modified to spread the load over 61 cm by 61 cm (two feet by two feet) pads not bearing on the tank.

8. Reasons

i. The modifications to the support of the deck in the vicinity of the tank will reduce any potential impact on the tank.

ii. The performance of the septic tank and the filter bed apparently have not been impacted by the deck and stairs over the past five years.

Dated at Toronto this 7th, day in the month of December in the year 2000 for application number 2000-69.

_______________________________________________

Mr. Bryan Whitehead, Vice Chair

_______________________________________________

Mr. Bill Fellner

_______________________________________________

Mr. Doug Robinson