BCAB #1890

June 16, 2022

Re: Attic Access for Self-Storage Units

Project description:

The project is the reconstruction of two fire damaged self storage units in multi unit storage building constructed under Part 9 of the BC Building Code. Each storage unit is approximately 27 m2 in area. Each storage unit has an attic space above its 2.4m high ceiling, with the attic spaces greater than 600 mm in height over the large majority of their area. Each attic space is separated from the adjacent unit attic space.

Applicable Code requirements: British Columbia Building Code 2018

Division A

1.1.1. Application of this Code Application of this Code

1) This Code applies to any one or more of the following:

g) the reconstruction of any building that has been damaged by fire, earthquake or other cause,

Division B Access

1) Every attic or roof space shall be provided with an access hatch where the open space in the attic or roof space measures

a) 3 m2 or more in area,

b) 1 m or more in length or width, and

c) 600 mm or more in height over at least the area described in Clauses (a) and (b).

(See Note A-

2) The hatch required in Sentence (1) shall be not less than 550 mm by 900 mm except that, where the hatch serves not more than one dwelling unit, the hatch may be reduced to 0.32 m2 in area with no dimension less than 500 mm.

3) Hatchways to attic or roof spaces shall be fitted with doors or covers.

Decision being appealed (local authority’s position)

The local authority has determined each attic space for the two reconstructed storage units requires a fire rated access hatch conforming to Article

Appellant's position

The appellant has concerns if tenants of the storage units have access to the unit’s attic, there is potential for;

  • use of the attic space for storage of which it is not designed for,
  • unauthorized connection to electricity in attic, and
  • security issues for adjacent units.

Further, the appellant considers access for firefighting can be by cutting an opening in the gypsum board ceiling.

Appeal Board decision #1890

It is the determination of the Board that the attic spaces for the subject reconstructed individual storage units require access.

The requirement for the attic access hatch to have a fire protection rating is dependent on whether it is located in a required fire separation with a fire resistance rating.  

Reason for decision

Sentence Division A, requires the fire damaged units to be reconstructed complying with the current BC Building Code. The mandate of the Building Code Appeal Board does not include the authority for the Board to change or relax a prescribed code requirement.

The intent statement for attic access, Sentence, indicates the requirement for attic access is to allow for periodic inspection and to address maintenance matters.  

Lyle Kuhnert

Chair, Building Code Appeal Board