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BCC Ruling No. 95-48-468

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #95-48-468

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Articles 1.1.3.2., 2.2.1.1. and 9.8.4.1. of the Revised Regulation of Ontario 1990, Regulation 61, as amended by O.Regs. 400/91, 158/93, 160/93, 355/94 and 20/95 (the "Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Ms. Dawn Daniel for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. John Wright, Chief Building Official, Town of Markham, concerning whether the close proximity of an exit door to the property line (i.e. 0.55 m) affords adequate access to a public thoroughfare and if the relationship between the exterior grade and the interior landing requires steps that may obstruct the landing, in accordance with Article 1.1.3.2. and Articles 2.2.1.1. and 9.8.4.1. of the Building Code, at 16 Lavron Court, Markham, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Ms. Dawn Daniel, Owner
Markham, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. John Wright
Chief Building Official
Town of Markham

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair
Ms. Susan Friedrich
Mr. Remus Tsang

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF RULING

October 19th, 1995

APPEARANCES

Ms. Dawn Daniel, Owner
Markham, Ontario
The Applicant

Mr. John Wright
Chief Building Official
Town of Markham

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Ms. Dawn Daniel is an applicant for a permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 to install a side entrance door to serve an accessory apartment located in the basement of the applicant's house.

  1. Description of Constrution

The subject doorway in dispute was installed to serve an accessory apartment located in the basement of the applicant's dwelling.

The side entrance is located on a wall within 0.6 m of the property line. There is a 1.1 metre (43 inch) maintenance easement between the subject doorway and the adjacent house.

The threshold of the door is less than 150 mm above the exterior grade and about 0.5 m above the interior landing level. The doorway constitutes the required exit from an accessory apartment located in the basement.

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns an interpretation of the technical requirements of Article 1.1.3.2. and Articles 2.2.1.1. and 9.8.4.1. of the Building Code. At issue is whether the disputed door satisfies the definition of exit, and if the relationship between the exterior grade and the interior landing requires steps that may obstruct the landing.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Article 1.1.3.2. Definition of Exits

Exit means that part of a means of egress, including doorways, that leads from the floor area it serves, to a separate building, an open public thorough-fare, or an exterior open space protected from the exposure from the building and having access to an open public thoroughfare.

Article 2.2.1.1. Characteristics of Materials, Appliances, Systems and Equipment

All materials, appliances, systems and equipment installed to meet the requirements of this Code shall possess the necessary characteristics to perform their intended functions when installed in a building.

Article 9.8.4.1. Dimensions of Landings

Landings shall be at least as wide and as long as the width of stairs in which they occur, except that the length of landing for exterior stairs serving not more than 1 dwelling unit need not exceed 900 mm (2 ft 1 in), and the length of landing for all other stairs in a straight run need not exceed 1 100 mm (3 ft 7 in).

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the Town of Markham will not allow the side entrance door to serve the accessory basement apartment.

The Applicant submitted that there is a registered easement of 1.1 m (43") between the houses with the property line at 0.55 m (21?") from each house.

  1. Chief Building Officials Position

The Respondent submitted that the doorway in dispute was installed without a building permit to serve an accessory apartment located in the basement of the Applicant's dwelling. The apartment was established without a building permit. The Applicant has been convicted for construction without a building permit and has made an application for a permit authorizing the disputed door. The Respondent submitted that the application for a permit was denied primarily on the grounds that the disputed doorway is dysfunctional.

The Respondent submitted that if the Commission rejects this reason, the following particulars contravene the Building Code:

i. the disputed doorway does not satisfy the definition of exit; and,

ii. the relationship between the exterior grade and the interior landing requires steps that obstruct the landing in violation of Article 9.8.4.1.

Article 2.2.1.1. Characteristics of Materials, Appliances, Systems and Equipment

The Respondent considered the doorway to be a system or equipment in the context of Article 2.2.1.1.

The Respondent submitted that the intended function of a doorway is to facilitate the movement of people and things between the spaces it connects. Where a door is a component of an exit system it must also perform that function.

The Respondent submitted that to perform its intended function, a door/doorway must:

i. be wide enough to accommodate the people and things moving through it (i.e. Article 9.6.3.1. of the Building Code requires that the subject door be at least 760 mm wide); and,

ii. lead to and from a space having the same width.

The doorway in dispute is situated in a wall located 580 mm from the property line. An easement facilitating maintenance of the wall does not provide for trespassing over the adjacent property. The willingness of the abutting neighbour to tolerate such trespass can not be assumed. The easement does not prevent the erection of a fence along the boundary.

The limited proximity of the door to the property line and the absence of any permanent right of access beyond the property line renders this door dysfunctional.

Accordingly, the doorway does not possess the necessary characteristics to perform its intended function and is not permitted by Article 2.2.1.1.

Article 1.1.3.1. Definitions of Words and Phrases

The Respondent submitted that the disputed doorway is a required exit from the basement apartment. All options involving shared egress or egress windows are impractical and are not proposed.

If the disputed doorway is considered a required exit, it must (by definition) lead to an open public thoroughfare, or an exterior open space protected from fire exposure from the building and have access to an open public thoroughfare. The Respondent submitted that a strip of land, less than the width of the exit door does not satisfy this definition.

Article 9.8.4.1. Dimensions of Landings

The Respondent submitted that the relationship between the exterior grade and the interior landing requires 2 treads that reduce the landing dimensions to approximately half that required by Article 9.8.4.1. This is a significant safety deficiency.

  1. Commission Ruling:

  1. It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the exit system including the exterior access to a public thoroughfare cannot be less than the required exit as noted in Article 2.2.1.1. of the Building Code.

  1. It is also the decision of the Building Code Commission that if the width of the exterior access is not less than the minimum unobstructed dimension specified in compliance alternative C121.1(c) of Article 11.2.3.1. for access to a secondary exit from a dwelling unit which leads through another dwelling unit, the access route provides sufficiency of compliance with the Building Code.

The access to the first floor main exit must be maintained free of obstruction at all times.

The exterior access to the public thoroughfare from the secondary exit must be maintained free of obstruction at all times.

  1. Reason:

The building is greater than 5 years old and Part 11 compliance alternative may be applied, as per 2.1.1.6 of the Building Code.

Dated at Toronto, this 19th day, in the month of October, in the year 1995, for application number 1995-49.

Roy Philippe

Susan Friedrich

Remus Tsang