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BCC Ruling No. 99-32-688

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentences and, Article, and Sentences and of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99 and 278/99 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Maurizio Bartucci, property owner, 9593 Hwy. 124, Erin, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Patrick Kraemer, Chief Building Official, Town of Erin, Ontario to determine whether the existing gravel floor is required to comply with Sentences and, Article, and Sentences and of the Ontario Building Code at Country Garden Concrete, 9593 County Hwy. 124, Erin, Ontario.


Mr. Maurizio Bartucci
Property Owner
Erin, Ontario


Mr. Patrick Kraemer
Chief Building Official
Town of Erin


Mr. Kenneth Peaker (Chair)
Mr. James Lischkoff
Mr. Stuart Smith


Toronto, Ontario


May 13, 1999


May 13, 1999


Mr. Guy Ironmonger
Erin, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Patrick Kraemer
Chief Building Official
Town of Erin
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Maurizio Bartucci, property owner, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to change the use of an existing industrial building to a mercantile occupancy and to also undertake interior renovations at Country Garden Concrete, 9593 Highway 124, Erin, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to change the use of an existing industrial building that was formerly used for the storage of farm machinery, septic tank pumping trucks and backhoes to a mainly Group E - mercantile (display, retail and wholesale) occupancy that will be used for the sale of concrete garden products, such as bird baths, fountains, statutes, flower pots, etc. Roughly one fifth of the floor area of the subject building will be considered a Group F - Division 2 (manufacturing) occupancy devoted to the production of the concrete garden products.

The existing building is described as one storey with a building area of 393.6 m2 and having dimensions of 16.8 m by 23.5 m. The structure has exterior walls composed of 300 mm thick concrete on all four sides. A wood frame supports the corrugated steel roof sheathing. At the long sides of the building the roof framing rests upon the concrete walls, at the gable ends wood studs clad with corrugated metal siding support the roof assembly.

The Applicant is also proposing to renovate the subject building by constructing interior partitions to create specific areas within the building and by cutting an opening in the existing concrete wall at the east end to provide a 925 mm wide door as an additional exit. Among the new spaces created by the proposed interior partitions would be a production area of roughly 72.5 m2 that would be covered with a wood frame ceiling. The walls for this area would be supported by three 2 by 4 wood stud columns stabilized by eight 300 mm concrete piers set on undisturbed soil placed around the perimeter of the production area. The ceiling of this area would also be supported by two of the same stud columns on the same concrete piers located roughly in the middle of the production area. Identically constructed partition walls would also provide an uncovered 50.1 m2 storage area, and a small washroom. The total interior area of the building that would be enclosed by the proposed partitions is 128.1 m2.

The construction in dispute involves the existing gravel floor of the building. The Applicant is not proposing to replace it with a concrete slab on ground, except in the small proposed washroom.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether, considering the proposed change of use and interior renovations, the existing gravel floor is required to comply with Sentences and, Article, and Sentences and which collectively deal with certain structural, barrier-free, obstruction of means of egress, dampproofing and soil gas control standards. If deemed necessary that the current gravel floor must meet some or all of the referenced standards then a poured structural concrete floor slab may be required.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Sentence Design Requirements

(1) Buildings and their structural members including formwork and falsework shall be designed to have sufficient structural capacity and structural integrity to resist safely and effectively all loads and effects of loads and influences that may reasonably be expected, having regard to the expected service life of buildings, and shall in any case satisfy the requirements of this Section. (See Appendix A.)

Sentence Stability

(1) Provision shall be made to ensure adequate stability of a structure as a whole, and adequate lateral, torsional and local stability of all structural parts.

Article Barrier-Free Path of Travel

(1) Except as required in Sentence (4) and except as permitted in Subsection 3.8.3., every barrier-free path of travel shall provide an unobstructed width of at least 1 060 mm (3 ft 6 in) for the passage of wheelchairs.

(2) Interior and exterior walking surfaces that are within a barrier-free path of travel shall
(a) have no opening that will permit the passage of a sphere more than 13 mm (? in) in diam,

(b) have any elongated openings oriented approximately perpendicular to the direction of travel,
(c) be stable, firm and slip-resistant,
(d) be bevelled at a maximum slope of 1 in 2 at changes in level not more than 13 mm (? in), and
(e) be provided with sloped floors or ramps at changes in level more than 13 mm (? in).

Sentence Areas Requiring Barrier-Free Path of Travel

(1) Except where essential obstructions in the work area would make a barrier-free path of travel hazardous, and except as provided in Sentences (2), (3) and (4), a barrier-free path of travel from the entrances required by Sentences and (2) to be barrier-free shall be provided throughout the entrance storey and within all normally occupied floor areas served by a passenger type elevator or other platform equipped passenger elevating device.

Sentence Obstructions in the Means of Egress

(2) Except as provided in Sentence (3), no obstructions, such as counter gates, which do not meet the requirements for exit doors, shall be placed in a required means of egress from a floor area or part of a floor area unless an alternate unobstructed means of egress is provided adjacent to and plainly visible from the restricted egress.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the present gravel floor is suitable for the proposed use, that the numerous OBC provisions cited do not apply, and thus a concrete floor is not necessary. The existing gravel floor was never part of the building permit application, therefore he could not understand why any of the disputed provisions would apply. He then dealt with the issues raised by the Respondent one at a time.

Regarding the structural requirements found in Part 4 of the Code, the Applicant provided a letter from an engineer stating that the gravel floor is capable of supporting a uniform load of 4.8 kPa, which he indicated is what is required for this type of use. He then noted that even in the production area the loading will not approach anywhere near 4.8 kPa. The Applicant rejected the idea that a structural concrete floor slab was necessary, after all he noted, the building has stood for several decades without such a floor slab.

On the issue of barrier-free accessibility, the Applicant indicated that he did not believe that Section 3.8 applied to this building. His reading of the disputed barrier-free OBC provisions, especially Article, was that no where do they stipulate that a concrete floor is necessary in order to achieve compliance.

Insofar as preventing an obstruction of the means of egress as found in Sentence is concerned, the Applicant argued that the existing gravel floor, while not as perfectly flat as concrete, is quite level. He indicated that the floor would not be a tripping hazard in the event of a quick exit due to an emergency. Further, the Applicant argued that the intent of Sentence was to prevent large objects like a gate from being placed in an egress route.

Lastly, the Applicant indicated that he is satisfied with the current gravel floor. In his view, none of the aforementioned Code provisions apply. A concrete floor would be an unnecessary and wasteful expenditure. The current gravel floor will not reduce the performance level of the building.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the gravel floor is inadequate and that a structural concrete floor slab is necessary for several specific reasons.

He began by stating that according to Part 10 of the OBC the performance level of the building will be reduced due to increased occupant load with people working in the building for long periods of time and also with public access to the structure.

The Respondent continued by arguing that, in his view, enough changes were being made to the building with the interior partitions, one of which supports a ceiling, and the cutting of the exterior concrete wall for a door that OBC Articles "Design Requirements" and "Stability" would apply. He argued that a structural concrete floor would provide the necessary stability and would offset any of proposed changes to the building. The gravel floor, he noted, is not a stable element.

Secondly, the Respondent noted that the non-level and uneven gravel floor could be a problem for able-bodied persons as well. In his view, the gravel floor presents a tripping hazard that could possibly impede a person's means of egress, especially in the event of an emergency. Sentence, he argued, specifically prohibits any obstacles in the means of egress and this could also be construed as an uneven gravel floor.

Lastly, the Respondent indicated that it was his belief that a barrier-free accessible path of travel is necessary. In his view, the barrier-free accessibility requirements found in Section 3.8 mandated that a concrete floor was necessary to assist the movement of people in wheelchairs. He expressed concern about the uneven gravel floor and the reduced mobility it would cause. Even if it is not required, he argued that it would certainly provide a higher level of comfort and freedom of movement for disabled persons.

For these reasons, the Respondent concluded by stating that a concrete slab is required in order to maintain the building's performance level.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the existing ground floor is not necessary to comply with Sentences and, Article, and Sentences and of the Ontario Building Code at Country Garden Concrete 9593 Country Highway 124 Erin, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

i) According to Article and consideration of Part 11, Section 11.4. (performance level evaluation and compensating construction), there is no reduction in performance with respect to the existing ground floor.

ii) Article does not mandate that a concrete slab-on-grade must be provided.

Dated at Toronto this 13th day in the month of May in the year 1999 for application number 1999-35

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair

Mr. James Lischkoff

Mr. Stewart Smith