September 24, 2021
Re: Egress from Dwelling Units
The proposed project consists of primarily three storey townhouse residential buildings, where there are no dwelling units built above another. Some of the townhouse units will have a commercial storefront suite on the first storey such that part of the second and third storeys of the townhouse units are above the commercial storefront suite.
There is no internal access between the commercial storefront suite and the attached residential townhouse unit. The commercial storefront suite may be occupied under separate tenure from the residential townhouse unit it is attached to and is considered to be a separate suite.
The proposed egress from the upper residential storeys is down two storeys to an exterior door at grade for all the townhouse units including the ones that have an attached commercial storefront suite and those that do not.
The subject of the appeal is the required egress from the third storey of townhouse units that have an attached commercial storefront.
Applicable Code requirements:
Sentences 22.214.171.124.(1), (2), and (3) of Division B of the British Columbia Building Code 2018.
126.96.36.199.(1) Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3), every dwelling unit containing more than 1 storey shall have exits or egress doors located so that it shall not be necessary to travel up or down more than 1 storey to reach a level served by
a) an egress door to a public corridor, enclosed exit stair or exterior passageway, or
b) an exit doorway not more than 1.5 m above adjacent ground level.
188.8.131.52.(2) Where a dwelling unit is not located above or below another suite, the travel limit from a floor level in the dwelling unit to an exit or egress door may exceed 1 storey where that floor level is served by an openable window
a) providing an unobstructed opening of not less than 1 m in height and 0.55 m in width, and
b) located so that the sill is not more than
i) 1 m above the floor, and
ii) 7 m above adjacent ground level.
184.108.40.206.(3) The travel limit from a floor level in a dwelling unit to an exit or egress door may exceed 1 storey where that floor level has direct access to a balcony.
Decision being appealed (local authority’s position)
The local authority has determined that compliance with Article 220.127.116.11. “Egress from Dwelling Units” requires the third storey of the townhouse unit to have direct access to a balcony as per Sentence 18.104.22.168.(3). The local authority does not consider the permission of Sentence 22.214.171.124.(2) to be applicable, as the townhouse unit is constructed (partially) above the commercial storefront suite on the first storey.
The appellant maintains the egress from the third storey of those townhouse units that have an attached commercial storefront suite are identical to those townhouse units that do not, and therefore the intent of the Code is being satisfied for the subject units.
Appeal Board decision #1871
It is the determination of the Board that Sentence 126.96.36.199.(3) is applicable to those townhouse units that are proposed to be constructed over the commercial storefront suite and direct access to a balcony is required.
Reason for decision
The subject townhouse units are proposed to be constructed (partially) above a commercial storefront suite, and therefore the permission contained in Sentence 188.8.131.52.(2) is not applicable.
The Board considers the permission contained in Sentence 184.108.40.206.(2) applies only to the circumstance where there is no other suite above or below which could increase a potential hazard in an emergency situation.
Chair, Building Code Appeal Board