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BCC Ruling No. 97-36-578

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 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 Ms. Jane Lovell & Mr. Stuart Button, 32 Waverley Road, Toronto, Ontario, for the resolution of a dispute with Ms. Pam Coburn, Chief Building Official, City of Toronto, Ontario, concerning whether the proposed exterior spiral staircase provides sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code at 32 Waverley Road, Toronto, Ontario.


Ms. Jane Lovell & Mr. Stuart Button
32 Waverley Road
Toronto, Ontario


Ms. Pam Coburn
Chief Building Official
City of Toronto


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


Toronto, Ontario


Thursday, August 21st, 1997


Ms. Jane Lovell & Mr. Stuart Button
32 Waverley Road
Toronto, Ontario
The Applicant

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


  1. The Applicant

Ms. Jane Lovell and Mr. Stuart Button are persons to whom a building permit was issued under the Building Code Act, 1992 to renovate their existing two storey house at 32 Waverley Road, Toronto, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction

The Applicants renovation added a second storey addition at the rear of their existing two storey house. Attached to the new addition is a second storey deck which is partially cantilevered over the rear wall of the first floor. Including the new addition, the total area of the house is 1,217 ft2. The house is described as having a Group C - residential occupancy.

The Applicants had proposed to attach an exterior spiral staircase that would connect the rear, second floor deck to an existing grade level deck. The proposed spiral staircase is made of steel and comes as a pre-manufactured kit. The basic components of the kit includes a 3 inch diameter pole, heavy 12 gauge formed steel treads which are welded to a 4 inch steel collar that slide over the pole, a 9 inch diameter base plate to fasten the pole, and a vinyl handrail with railing spandrels. The standard kit designed for a one storey height is equipped with 11 treads.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the proposed spiral stairs provide sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code. In particular, the dispute revolves around whether the proposed stairs meets the average run required of 200 mm (7 7/8 inches) (as measured in the middle of the stairs) and the minimum run required of 150 mm (5 7/8 inches).

  1. Provisions of the Building Code Curved Stairs not in Exits

Except as permitted in Article, a curved stair not required as an exit shall have an average run of not less than 200 mm (7 7/8 in) and a minimum run of 150 mm (5 7/8 in) and shall have rises conforming to Article

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicants submitted that while the proposed stairs may not meet the provisions for run requirements of Article, they have provided additional safety measures to create sufficiency of compliance. For instance, they plan to add non-slip treads, additional lighting, a gate at the second storey entrance to the stairs, and additional balustrades (railing spandrels).

The Applicants also indicate that their house has internal stairs that act as the primary means of egress. Finally, they note that inquiries made to the neighbouring municipality of Scarborough found that its building department would have approved the subject stairs.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that the proposed spiral stairs are not permitted under Section 9.8 of the Building Code. They cite Sentence which allows a set of stairs to have a curved and straight portion. They indicate, however, that these stairs are entirely curved from top to bottom.

The Respondent also notes that the run of the subject stairs does not meet Code. In doing so, they have applied Sentence which requires that exterior stairs serving a dwelling unit must have a minimum run of 210 mm (8 1/4 in). The subject stairs, they argue, do not even meet the lesser run requirements found in Article

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the proposed exterior spiral stair does not provide sufficiency of compliance with Article of the Ontario Building Code.

  1. Reasons:

i) The run, rise and stair width do not comply with the Ontario Building Code.

ii) Limited proposals were provided to reduce the hazards associated with travel down the stair.

Dated at Toronto this 21st day in the month of August in the year 1997 for application number 1997-42.

Roy Philippe, Chair

Rick Florio

Cliff Youdale