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BCC Ruling No. 99-41-697

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #99-41-697

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 9.16.3. 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. Richard Biffis, Vice President Construction, The Kaitlin Group, Scarborough, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Stephen Vokes, Chief Building Official, Municipality of Clarington, Ontario, to determine whether a drainage system is required beneath the basement level concrete slab-on-grade as per Subsection 9.16.3. of the Ontario Building Code at the Port of Newcastle Development, Clarington, Ontario.

APPLICANT


Mr. Richard Biffis, Vice President Construction
The Kaitlin Group
Scarborough, Ontario


RESPONDENT


Mr. Stephen Vokes
Chief Building Official
Municipality of Clarington

PANEL


Mr. Kenneth Peaker, (Chair-Designate)
Mr. Robert De Berardis
Mr. John Guthrie

PLACE


Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

June 17, 1999

DATE OF RULING

June 17, 1999


APPEARANCES

Mr. R.W. Bruynson, President
R.W. Bruynson Inc.
Oshawa, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant



RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Richard Biffis, Vice President Construction, The Kaitlin Group, Scarborough, Ontario, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct a residential subdivision known as the Port of Newcastle development, Clarington, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicant is proposing to construct a residential subdivision known as the Port of Newcastle. The individual houses are classified as having a Group C occupancy and are described as two storey with a total floor area of 206 m2 (2,217 ft 2).

The construction in dispute involves the drainage below the concrete floor slabs at the basement level. The Applicant is not proposing to install drain pipes (connected to the perimeter weeping tile) under the slabs-on-ground. Instead, the proposed slabs would rest on polyethylene damproofing membranes on top of compacted granular material. A weeping tile drainage system for the foundation wall will be provided at the level of the footing.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the basement slab-on-ground floors constructed without a drainage system below complies with Article 9.16.3.1. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision requires that unless it can be demonstrated as unnecessary drainage or grading shall be used to prevent the ingress of water underneath a floor-on-ground.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Subsection 9.16.3. - Drainage

9.16.3.1. - Control of Water Ingress

(1) Except as provided in Article 9.16.3.2. or where it can be shown to be unnecessary, ingress of water underneath a floor-on-ground shall be prevented by grading or drainage.

9.16.3.2. - Hydrostatic Pressure

(1) Where groundwater levels may cause hydrostatic pressure beneath a floor-on-ground, the floor-on-ground shall be:

(a) a cast in place concrete slab; and
(b) designed to resist such pressures.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that his proposal to construct the proposed slabs-on-ground without a drainage system below complies with Article 9.16.3.1. because such a system, in his view, is only required when ground water problems are anticipated as determined by a soils report or a site inspection. He argued that the need to install a sub-slab drainage system occurs when a water problem has been detected in the soil. He indicated that the Respondent has this reversed, believing that the drainage system is an automatic requirement until the soil is found to be problem free. This, the Applicant argued, places an unnecessarily heavy burden of proof regarding the soil on the proponent and probably results in many unneeded drainage systems being installed in areas where the soil conditions do not require it

In his view, the intent of the Code is to prevent ingress of water under a slab-on-ground by using a drainage system where necessary. There was no indication of groundwater problems in his soils report or as noted by any site inspection. He argued that the engineering report should be viewed as reliable evidence of the site's condition. He added that the condition of each property would be verified and they would make any necessary adjustments, e.g. providing a sub-slab drainage system if needed, during construction.

With no identifiable groundwater issue, the Applicant concluded by arguing that it made little sense therefore to install a sub-slab drainage system for each property.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that a drainage system below the slab-on-ground is required as per Article 9.16.3.1. and thus the proposal does not meet Code. He noted that to date the municipality has not been able to conclusively determine whether the soil conditions would require (or not) that a sub-slab drainage system is necessary. Based on this uncertainty about the soil and considering that OBC 9.16.3.1. states that drainage is required "except... where it can be shown to be unnecessary..." (which he indicated has not been proven), the Respondent argued that his interpretation of this Code provision dictates that in the subject circumstance a sub-slab drainage system is required. As he noted, Article 9.16.3.1., in his view, is drafted in such a way as to require a drainage system until it can be proven unnecessary.

Having made the case for the requirement of the drainage system, the Respondent then argued however that he felt this was an example of an excessive requirement found in the Building Code that goes beyond the minimum standards designed to ensure the intended levels of health, life safety, and property protection and barrier-free accessibility. He indicated that he viewed the sub-slab drainage standards as requirements that enhance comfort and quality of construction but are not minimum housing standards.

Nevertheless, he indicated that they have been enforcing the Code as written because that is their responsibility as a municipal building department.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that drainage below a slab-on-ground at the Port of Newcastle development in Clarington may be eliminated provided an engineer reports to the Chief Building Official that drainage is unnecessary, or where groundwater levels may cause hydrostatic pressure beneath a floor-on-ground, the floor-on-ground shall be a cast in place concrete slab and designed to resist such pressures.

  1. Reasons

(i) Article 9.16.3.1. states "Except as provided in Article 9.16.3.2. or where it can be shown to be unnecessary, egress of water underneath a floor-on-ground shall be provided by grading or drainage".



Dated at Toronto this 17th day in the month of June in the year 1999 for application number 1999-28.

Mr. Kenneth Peaker, Chair Designate

Mr. Robert De Berardis

Mr. John Guthrie