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BCC Ruling No. 98-19-624

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article of Regulation 61, as amended by O. Reg. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 383/94, 20/95 and 395/96 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. and Mrs. Terry Dingle, homeowners, 47 Walker Avenue, Toronto, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Ms. Pam Coburn, Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, Ontario to determine whether the proposed windows, as unprotected openings offset at 1.2 metres in a wall 0.94 metres from the adjacent property line, provide sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code at 47 Walker Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.


Mr. and Mrs. Terry Dingle
Toronto, Ontario


Ms. Pam Coburn
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Michael Lio
Mr. Rick Florio


Toronto, Ontario


April 24, 1998


April 24, 1998


Mr. Keith Wagland, Principal
Keith H. Wagland Architect
Toronto, Ontario
Agent for the Applicants

Mr. Michael Swann
Building Plan Examiner
City of Toronto
For the Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. and Mrs. Terry Dingle, homeowners, have applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to add a two-storey addition at 47 Walker Avenue, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicants propose to renovated an existing semi-detached house and add a two storey addition to the rear of the subject building. The building is constructed of combustible construction and has a building area of approximately 106.9 m2 (1,150 ft2). The structure is classified as a Group C, residential occupancy.

As part of this work, the Applicants proposed to add a strip window on the east side of the new addition. (The subject semi-detached dwelling is attached on its west side.) The dimension of the window are 3.5 m by 0.76 m (11 ft, 6 in by 2 ft, 6 in). It has a total area of 2.04 m2 (22 ft2). The east exposing face of the proposed addition is .94 metres (3 ft, 1 and 1/4 in) from the adjacent property. The Applicants propose however to set the window itself, or the actual glazed surface, back from the exposing face within the house by 0.37 m (14 and 5/8 in) so that the window would be 1.32 m (4 ft, 3 and 7/8) from the property line. The window structure would be supported inside the addition by several gables.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the proposed windows, as unprotected openings, with a limiting distance of .94 metres from the adjacent property line, provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code. This provision allows seven percent of an exposing building face to be unprotected openings where the limiting distance is 1.2 metres (3 ft, 11 in). Where the limiting distance is less than 1.2 metres no unprotected openings are allowed.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article Percentage of Unprotected Openings

(1) Except as provided in Sentence (2) and in Articles to, the maximum percentage of unprotected openings in an exposing building face shall conform toTable 9.10.14.A. or to Subsection 3.2.3., whichever is the least restrictive for the occupancy being considered.

(2) An opening in an exposing building face not more than 130 cm2 (20 in2) shall not be considered an unprotected opening.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that since the windows are recessed into the exposing face the actual limiting distance, as measured from the unprotected openings to the property line, is more than 1.2 metres (3 ft, 11 in). At this distance, they argued, the OBC allows seven percent of the exposing building face to be unprotected openings. The Applicants calculated that seven percent of the subject exposing face would be 8.71 m2 (93.7 ft2). They noted that this is well in excess of the 2.04 m2 proposed for the strip windows.

The Applicants also argued that the proposed window, in fact, improves the original situation of unprotected openings in this exposure because they have decided to permanently close off an existing basement window located only 0.9 metres (3 ft, 1 in) from the lot line.

City of Toronto By-Law 438-86 which allows a window within 1.2 metres (3 ft, 11 in) of an adjacent structure in a semi-detached zone was raised by the Applicant. They contended that the Respondent was not adhering to the standards in their own by-laws with respect to the window at issue.

Lastly, the Applicants felt that the inclusion of the window is an important aspect of the renovation because it brings light deep into the house and thus improves the liveability of the addition.

For these reasons, the Applicant argued that the recessed window at issue still meets the intent of the Building Code.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed window does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article They referred to the definitions of "Exposing Building Face" and "Limiting Distance" in the OBC to make their case. The Respondent noted that the OBC definition for exposing face clearly refers to the exterior wall of a building and not the recessed window strip as proposed and designed by the Applicants. They further noted that the OBC, as it defines limiting distance, is a measurement from the exposing face to a set point. They emphasized that while the point to which the limiting distance is measured can vary from either the property line, the centre of a street, or to an imaginary line between two buildings, etc., the exposing face is a fixed point. The Code does not allow limiting distance calculations to made on variations in the exposing face for recessed windows.

As a result, the Respondent pointed out that the subject exposing face has a limiting distance of less than 1.2 metres ( 3 ft, 11 in) and thus according to Table 9.10.14.A. is allowed zero percent unprotected openings. As the requirements in the OBC are minimum standards, the Respondent stated that they cannot accept the proposed variation.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed windows demonstrate sufficiency of compliance with the requirements of the Building Code provided that:

a)Wired glass in fixed steel frames is installed in the proposed windows with the unprotected opening limited to no more than 1.12 m2 (12 ft2).

  1. Reasons

i)A portion of the window opening will be protected with wired glass in steel frames.

ii)Windows were removed from the existing building that measured approximately 1.12 m2 (12 ft2).

iii)The new window is inset from the exterior wall and is installed at a distance of 1.32 m (4 ft, 3 and 7/8 in) from the property line.

iv)Centrally monitored fire alarms and two portable fire extinguishers have been installed in the home.

Dated at Toronto this 24th day in the month of April in the year 1998 for application number 1998-19.

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Michael Lio

Mr. Rick Florio