BCAB #1856

February 25, 2021

Re: Application of Defined Term Dwelling Unit

Project Description

The project is a two-storey building of residential occupancy divided into two portions. The guest portion consists of 10 bedrooms each with its own bathroom facilities, common entrance, a children’s room, shared cooking, dining, living, washrooms, storage rooms and an attached storage garage. The staff portion consists of 2 bedrooms, cooking, and living facilities. The portions are connected and access by occupants is unrestricted throughout the entire building. The design occupant load of the building, based on the number of bedrooms, is 24 persons.

The building is intended to be used and operated as transient accommodation providing group accommodation for large corporate teams and extended families. It is the owner’s intent to rent the whole building to one group at a time. Individual rooms will not be rented on a nightly basis. The anticipated rental periods for the accommodation will be from one to two weeks.

Applicable Code Requirements

Definition of dwelling unit in Sentence 1.4.1.2.(1) of Division A of the British Columbia Building Code 2018.

Dwelling unit means a suite operated as a housekeeping unit, used or intended to be used by one or more persons and usually containing cooking, eating, living, sleeping and sanitary facilities.

Decision being Appealed (Local Authority’s Position)

The local authority has determined that the proposed building cannot be considered a single dwelling unit as it does not meet the definition of dwelling unit in the Building Code. The local authority considers the accommodations similar to a small hotel, with those Code requirements being applicable.

Appellant's Position

The appellant maintains the business plan is to rent the entire residential building to one group at a time, under single tenure, and that this permits the building to be considered a single dwelling unit.

Appeal Board Decision #1856

It is the determination of the Board that the building is a single suite of residential occupancy. If the occupants function as a single housekeeping unit, the single residential suite can be considered a dwelling unit.

Reason for Decision

  1. The entire building is let under a single tenure with access to all parts of the building by all occupants.
  2. The Board considers the definition of dwelling unit to be broad.The Board is basing its decision on the interpretation of the term dwelling unit with the condition that the entire building operate as a single housekeeping unit.
  3. The Board considers the use of the term housekeeping unit, specifically within the definition of dwelling unit in the Building Code, to mean persons occupying a suite of residential occupancy as a group, at one time, with familiarity of the premises, for purposes of living, sleeping, eating etc., regardless of the duration or their relationship to each other.

Lyle Kuhnert

Chair, Building Code Appeal Board