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BCC Ruling No. 97-38-580

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence of "the Building Code" (Ontario Regulation 419/89 as amended by Ont. Reg. 183/88, 581/88, 11/89 and 115/89).

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Clare Kielstra, Office Manager, Talbot Homes Ltd., for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Jim Foster, Chief Building Official, City of St. Thomas, Ontario, to determine whether the unprotected openings on the subject residential addition comply with Sentence of the Ontario Building Code at 12 Spruce Street, St. Thomas, Ontario.


Mr. Clare Kielstra, Office Manager
Talbot Homes Ltd.
107 Gaylord Road
St. Thomas, Ontario


Mr. Jim Foster
Chief Building Official
City of St. Thomas


Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Rick Florio
Mr. Cliff Youdale


Toronto, Ontario


Thursday, August 21st, 1997


Mr. Clare Kielstra, Office Manager
Talbot Homes Ltd
The Applicant

Mr. Jim Foster
Chief Building Official
City of St. Thomas
The Respondent


  1. The Applicant

Mr. Clare Kielstra is a person to whom an order was issued under the Building Code Act, 1992 to bring a recently constructed addition to an existing dwelling into compliance with the Ontario Building Code at 12 Spruce Street, St. Thomas, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The renovation at dispute is a 78 ft2 addition on the east side of an existing dwelling at 12 Spruce Street, St. Thomas, Ontario. The existing building is described as a 1 and a half storey, 1,100 ft2 structure. Both the existing building and the addition are combustible construction. The building is classified as having a Group C - residential occupancy.

The east-facing exposure of the addition is located 1.23 m (4 ft) from the adjacent property line. This exposing building face contains a window which is calculated to be an unprotected opening of approximately 35 per cent.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent is whether the subject window provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Building Code. This provision of the OBC, specifically Table 9.10.14.A., requires that an exposing building face with a limiting distance of 1.23 m (4 ft) have a total of 7 per cent unprotected opening or less. As mentioned, the subject wall has an unprotected opening of 35 per cent. In terms of actual area permissible for this exposing building face as an unprotected opening, the 7 per cent maximum found Table 9.10.14.A. translates into 5.6 ft2. The existing unprotected opening is measured at 38.5 ft2.

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Maximum Percentage of Unprotected Openings

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

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant, Mr. Kielstra, was the contractor for the subject renovation. He submitted that while the opening clearly exceeds the allowable limit, it would have been helpful to him if one of the earlier inspections done during construction had revealed this deficiency. Instead, it was only on the final inspection that the city brought this issue to his attention.

The Applicant's clients wish to retain the opening. Installing a fire shutter above the window was deemed by his clients not to be consistent with the design. Accordingly, the Applicant is proposing other options, including installing a single sprinkler in the addition and/or a 45 minute fire-rated door between the existing and new portions of the dwelling.

The Applicant also submitted that the addition is used as a foyer. Furthermore, the town's fire department can provide response within 3-4 minutes.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the maximum allowable unprotected opening for the subject exposing building face is 7 per cent, as described in Table 9.10.14.A. Further, they indicated that the Building Code does not contain provisions that would allow them to accept the proposals offered by the Applicant. The Respondent noted that by installing a sprinkler system in the addition, and/or the 45 minute fire-rated closure, sufficiency of compliance could be achieved.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed unprotected openings provide sufficiency of compliance with Sentence of the Building Code provided:

i) The addition is sprinklered and the sprinkler head is the quick response type.

ii) That a smoke alarm is installed in the addition and in the building in accordance with Article of the Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i) The addition is small and is sprinklered.

ii) If the complete building face were considered at the line of the addition as exposed building face, the percentage of unprotected openings would be significantly less.

iii) Evidence provided indicated that the Fire Department response time is good and the fuel load within the addition is limited.

iv) The addition of smoke alarms provides early warning for occupants.

v) It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that the addition does not create a hazard to the property considering the additional protection provided.

Dated at Toronto this 21st day in the month of August in the year 1997 for application number 1997-45.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Rick Florio

Cliff Youdale