BCAB #1329 - Building Height of Dwelling, Location of Grade, Article 126.96.36.199
December 15, 1993
Re: Building Height of Dwelling, Location of Grade, Article 188.8.131.52
The project in question is an existing single family dwelling on a steeply sloping site. The natural grade at the front of the house is over 20 feet lower than at the rear of the house.
Reason for Appeal
The house contains four storeys and because Part 9 buildings are limited to three storeys above grade the determination of what constitutes "finished ground" is quite important.
The appellant has constructed a natural stone wall around the low sides of the lowest storey. This wall about one metre high and 20 cm wide at the top which is two metres below the floor level of the next storey. A water pipe embedded near the top of the wall cascades water down the wall to form an ornamental waterfall. The appellant considers the top of this wall to be the finished ground level which makes the lowest floor a basement. The next floor is, therefore, the "first storey" and the building is three storeys in building height.
Building Official's Position
The building officials maintain that "grade" for the purposes of determining "building height" is at the base of the natural stone wall and do not consider the 20 cm wide top of the wall to be finished ground. They have requested that fill be provided to create a reasonably level area about four feet wide not more than two metres below the floor level of the second storey of the building. They would consider this to be acceptable "finished ground" for determining the building height in storeys.
Appeal Board Decision #1329
It is the determination of the Board that the top of the natural stone wall/waterfall cannot be considered as finished ground. The Board considers "finished ground" for the purposes of determining building height to be at the base of this wall.
George R. Humphrey, Chair