BCAB #1717 - Guard on Retaining Wall, Sentence 9.8.8.1.(1)

September 20, 2012

BCAB #1717

Re: Guard on Retaining Wall, Sentence 9.8.8.1.(1)

Project Description

At question in this appeal is whether or not a guard is required at the top of a stone retaining wall or the edge of a nearby ground level patio. The top of the approximately 10 foot high retaining wall is located about six feet from the edge of slab on grade patio located below a second floor sundeck.

Reason for Appeal

Sentence 9.8.8.1.(1) requires, with some exceptions, a guard at the edge of “every surface to which access is provided for other than maintenance purposes, including but not limited to flights of steps and ramps, exterior landings, porches, balconies, mezzanines, galleries and raised walkways where

a) there is a difference in elevation of more than 600 mm between the walking surface and the adjacent surface, or

b) the adjacent surface within 1.2 m of the walking surface has a slope of more than 1 in 2.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the grade level patio at the rear of the home is located sufficiently close to the retaining wall to constitute a hazard and require guards or other protection under the provisions of Sentence 9.8.8.1.(1). Areas that are likely to be occupied on a regular basis should be provided with guards or other suitable barriers to prevent an unsafe condition at the retaining wall and steep slope.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that under Clauses 9.8.8.1.(1)(a) and (b) a guard is not required because the walking surface and the adjacent landscape surface are at the same level and the closest distance from the concrete patio walking surface and the edge of the retaining wall is 1.8 metres (6’). Under Clause 1.1.1.1.(1)(h) in Division A an “unsafe condition” does not apply to the property area adjacent to the grade level patio because it is not part of the required path of travel for egress from the house to an open public thoroughfare.

Appeal Board Decision #1717

It is the determination of the Board that a guard is not required at the edge of the ground level patio because it is more than 1.2 metres from any drop-off and the Building Code does not regulate landscape features such as retaining walls not considered part of the building.

George Humphrey, Chair