BCAB #1824

March 21, 2019

Re: Application of Spatial Separation Requirements to Alteration to Existing Building

Project Description

The project is an alteration to a house with a secondary suite in the basement. The secondary suite was originally constructed without a building permit. The building permit was issued for new alterations and an addition to the secondary suite and to bring the secondary suite into compliance. The permit was issued based on submitted plans that specified fire shutters as a means of protecting existing openings along the exposing building face. The existing openings exceed the allowable openings in the British Columbia Building Code for the exposing building face based on the limiting distance.

Applicable Code Requirements

Sentence of Division A of the 2012 British Columbia Building Code.   Where a building is altered, rehabilitated, renovated or repaired, or there is a change in occupancy, the level of life safety and building performance shall not be decreased below a level that already exists. (See Appendix A.)

Decision being Appealed (Local Authority’s Position)

The local authority has determined that the scope of the alterations requires application of Subsection 9.10.15. for glazed openings and that the windows must be brought into compliance as part of the alteration.

Appellant's Position

The appellant maintains that despite the new work on the building, the openings along the exposing building face are existing, and that the application of the Code does not require that they be protected.

Appeal Board Decision # 1824

It is the determination of the Board that the scope of the alterations and addition is such that the BC Building Code applies in the portion of the building undergoing alteration and addition (the secondary suite) per Clauses and (j). Subsection 9.10.15. applies to the glazed openings in the secondary suite.

Reason for Decision

The level of life safety and building performance is potentially being decreased below that which already exists because:

  • the floor area of the basement is being increased by the addition
  • the secondary suite is being brought into compliance now making it effectively a newly created secondary suite

Clause uses the defined term “occupancy”, which includes change of use. The change of use is from a building containing one dwelling unit to a building containing two dwelling units. This is not a change of “major occupancy”.

Clause states that the BC Building Code applies to parts of a building that are affected by, but not directly involved in alterations or additions.

Frankie Victor

Acting Chair, Building Code Appeal Board