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BCC Ruling No. 99-37-693

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-37-693

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98 and 122/98 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. John Martini, Site Superintendent, Bayview Wellington Homes, Woodbridge, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Steve Franklin, Deputy Chief, City of Toronto, Ontario, to determine whether the unobstructed open width portion of the casement windows complies with Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) of the Ontario Building Code at the Bridgeport Drive Subdivision, Toronto, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. John Martini, Site Superintendent
Bayview Wellington Homes
Woodbridge, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Steve Franklin
Deputy Chief
City of Toronto

PANEL

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

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

June 3, 1999

DATE OF RULING

June 3, 1999

APPEARANCES

Mr. John Barkovich, Research and Development Supervisor
Pollard Windows
Burlington, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Paul Meleta
Manager, Inspections Team #3
City of Toronto
Designate for the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. John Martini, Site Supervisor, Bayview Wellington Homes, Woodbridge, Ontario, has received a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to construct a subdivision of residential dwelling units at Bridgeport Drive, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant has recently constructed a subdivision of new two storey townhouse units classified as Group C - residential occupancies. As part of the construction the Applicant installed certain casement windows (known as the Tudor model) manufactured by Pollard Windows Inc. in the bedrooms of the subject townhouse units. The subject windows measure 600 mm (23 5/8 in) in width and are variable heights. In terms of its operation, the hinge, or rotation pins, at the top and bottom of the casement window unit which fasten the window to its frame and upon which it swings slide toward the vertical centre-line of the window opening.

The construction in dispute relates to the fact that when the subject windows are opened to an angle of 900 as measured from the exterior wall the width of clear opening is reduced to approximately 356 to 362 mm (14 to 14 3/8 in) due to the shift towards centre of the rotation pins. During opening of the window, while at an angle ranging from 600 to 750, a clear opening width of 380 mm (15 in) is achieved. The height nor the total unobstructed open area of the casement windows are in dispute.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the as built unobstructed open width portion of the window, at 356 mm (14 in), complies with Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires that no window that is to be used as an alternative access to the exterior have a dimension less than 380 mm (15 in). The Applicant's Tudor casement window, when opened 900, only has a clear, unobstructed opening of 356 mm (14 in). When opened less than 900, however, the minimum clear width of 380 mm (15 in) is provided. Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) is silent on whether the minimum opening dimension is required at 900 as measured from the exterior wall of the building containing the window.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 9.7.1.3(1)(b) Bedroom Windows

(1) Except where a door on the same floor level as the bedroom provides direct access to the exterior, every floor level containing a bedroom in a suite shall be provided with

(a) at least 1 outside window that can be opened from the inside without the use of tools, and

(b) each such window shall provide an individual, unobstructed open portion having a minimum area of 0.35 m2 (3.8 ft2) with no dimension less than 380 mm (15 in).

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the subject windows comply with Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) of the OBC. He argued that the windows do provide the minimum clear width of 380 mm (15 in) when opened between 600 and 750. He noted that no where in Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) does it stipulate that the minimum dimension must be achieved with the window open 900. Moreover, the associated OBC Appendix reference does not provide such a specification either. If this is the Code's intent, he suggested, this could be a useful revision in the future.

The Applicant indicated that, in fact, the subject windows provide more than the minimum 380 mm (15 in) when in the almost fully open position. He also noted that the height and the total area requirements were easily met. Therefore, in his view, the performance of the casement windows met the secondary access intent of Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) of the Code.

The Applicant did offer that if the BCC ruled against them they would change their production immediately. Specifically, he indicated that he could replace the hinges on this model to allow for the full 380 mm (15 in).

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the casement windows in dispute do not meet the unobstructed opening requirements found in Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b). As he noted, this provision requires 380 mm (15 in) and the windows, when fully open, only have a clear width of 356 mm (14 3/8 in). This, he argued, clearly does not meet Code. He indicated that measuring the opening at something less than 900 was not consistent with the principles used in the OBC. He cited the examples of corridors and doors which are not measured in the Code on anything less than 900 with respect to the direction of path of travel.

The Respondent also indicated that he was concerned that the subject windows represented a further reduction in egress window width. He noted that previous versions of the Code had width criteria up to 500 mm (19 3/4 in). As well, he was concerned that the reduced window width may be problematic with respect to accessibility to or from a ladder. Without being able to open the window to 900, he argued, meant that getting out of a house and onto a ladder for occupants escaping a fire or getting into a house from a ladder by a firefighter would be made more difficult.

Because the subject windows cannot provide a minimum of at least 380 mm (15 in) for all dimensions, in his view, therefore they do meet the intent of OBC 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) in terms of ensuring alternate access.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the unobstructed open width portion of the casement windows does not comply with Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b) of the Ontario Building Code at the Bridgeport Drive Subdivision, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Reasons

(i) The window as constructed does not meet the intent of Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b).

(ii) In regards to the intent of the Code with respect to the egress provisions it is likely that in an emergency situation the window will be in its fully open position, and therefore, not meet the minimum requirements of Clause 9.7.1.3.(1)(b).

(iii) In regard to the intent of the Code with respect to the ingress provisions the window sash must be in less than a fully open position, to meet the minimum requirements of the Code, therefore, the sash represents a hazard to the safe positioning of a ladder.

  1. Recommendations

The Building Code Commission recommends that consideration be given to changing the Code to that of the Article 9.7.1.3. of the 1986 Code.

Dated at Toronto this 3rd day in the month of June in the year 1999 for application number 1999-23

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair-Designate

Mr. James Lischkoff

Mr. Fred Barkhouse