BCAB #1466 - Attic Converted to Living Space, Remedial Action Required, Sentence - Definition of Attic or Roof Space.

June 17, 1998

BCAB #1466

Re: Attic Converted to Living Space, Remedial Action Required, Sentence - Definition of Attic or Roof Space.

Project Description

The appeal concerns a suite in an existing three storey wood frame condominium. The suite contains an upper level over part of the living room, the kitchen, both bathrooms and one of the bedrooms. All of this upper level, except the portion over the living room, has been converted to living space from an unfinished attic, without benefit of permits or inspections.

Reason for Appeal

The upper level was originally limited to 10% of the area of the suite in order for it not to be considered as a storey in building height. The question is how much remedial work is required to return the upper level to its original status as unfinished attic so as to return the building to its original status as three storeys in building height.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that completely restoring the attic to its original unfinished state is excessive and unnecessary. Removing the floor sheathing and replacing the original wall separating the 10% loft from the attic should be sufficient. The original structural engineers have determined the original collar ties are not needed due primarily to the ceiling membrane but some other supplementary details are needed. The appellant notes that the definition of attic does not describe finishes within this type of space and therefore a ceiling finish, in lieu of cross ties, approved by the structural engineer should be allowed to remain in place.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that additional space created in the originally unfinished attic is a storey by definition. The definition includes the words " between the top of such floor and the ceiling above it." Previous appeal No. 386 dealt with a similar issue where the "floor" of an attic space adjacent to a mezzanine was constructed with floor joists instead of ceiling joists and was covered with floor sheathing. The board considered this attic space to be part of the mezzanine and not dead space as contended. Retention of the finishes in this attic space, even with access blocked off by replacement of the original wall, will make future unauthorized use virtually inevitable.

Appeal Board Decision #1466

It is the determination of the Board that removal of the carpet and floor sheathing, as proposed by the appellant, would result in the area no longer constituting a storey and would be in compliance with the definition of attic.

George R. Humphrey, Chair