BCAB #1386 - Ceiling Height of Rooms & Spaces in Dwelling Units, Articles 126.96.36.199. & 188.8.131.52.
March 14, 1995
Re: Ceiling Height of Rooms & Spaces in Dwelling Units, Articles 184.108.40.206. & 220.127.116.11.
This appeal involves the finishing of additional rooms in the basement of an existing single family dwelling. A bedroom and bathroom already exist and it is proposed to finish a hallway and family room.
Reason for Appeal
Article 18.104.22.168. requires the height of rooms and spaces in residential occupancies to conform to Table 9.5.2.A. which lists five types of rooms and spaces and lists their minimum heights. Article 22.214.171.124. simply indicates that the height is to be measured between finished surfaces.
The appellant contends that the building official can use some reasonable discretion when applying these requirements to an existing home (built 1946) and is exceeding the intent of the Code by strictly applying these minimum heights for new construction to an older building. The unfinished portions of the basement have a height of 6' 10" and 6' 9" or 2.1 and 2.09 metres. Finishing the floor and ceiling will reduce this to 6' 9" an 6' 8" or 2.06 and 2.03 metres which is less than the minimum requirement of 2.1 metres. The appellant notes that proposed revisions the Building Code regarding secondary suites intend to allow a minimum ceiling height if 2.0 metres.
Building Official's Position
The building official maintains that the appellants proposal clearly conflicts with the minimum safety requirements of the Building Code and further maintains that the Appeal Board should not entertain this appeal as the appellant is requesting a relaxation of the Code, not an interpretation.
Appeal Board Decision #1386
The Board agrees that the ceiling height in this instance is below the minimum requirements of the Code. However, the Code is written primarily for new construction and Article 126.96.36.199. provides for some discretion in applying the Code to existing buildings providing the levels of life safety and building performance are not reduced below levels which already exist. The referenced Appendix note A-188.8.131.52. provides guidance which may assist the appellant and the building official in applying the Code to this circumstance. As stated in the Appendix, the degree to which any particular code requirement can be relaxed requires considerable judgment on the part of the designer and the authority having jurisdiction and is outside the jurisdiction of the Appeal Board.
George R. Humphrey, Chair