Safety Codes Act, Dimensional Tolerances
What are the dimensional tolerances that apply to the design and construction of buildings?
Article 188.8.131.52 in the National Building Code (Alberta Edition) states that "...If life safety will not be reduced, the authority having jurisdiction may accept a minor variation, not more than 2%, of a dimension given in this Code…"
Completeness and Accuracy of Documents Submitted for Building Permit
If specifications submitted in support of a building permit application contain information that reference another project, should they be rejected?
How do we resolve the chicken and egg situation of sprinkler design drawings requested by the City as we can't submit contractor-prepared sprinkler design drawings if a contractor has not yet been engaged?
While the submission of the National Building Code – Alberta Edition (NBC-AE) A and B Schedules of Professional Involvement should suffice for the purpose of obtaining a building permit on building projects where design professionals are involved, AAA members are reminded that Safety Codes Officers also have an important, regulated role to play in monitoring the project for compliance under the Safety Codes Act on behalf of the jurisdictions they represent.
Design professionals are responsible to make sure that all design documents are accurate, complete, promptly updated and made available to the authorities having jurisdiction. Complete, updated design documents must be maintained on the construction site in accordance with the Safety Codes Act/NBC-AE. When owners, construction contractors and design professionals fail to meet these minimum expectations, it places permitting authorities in an inappropriate, unfair position and may compromise the ability to fulfill their monitoring obligations under the Safety Codes Act. If a building permit has been issued and sufficiently complete and accurate design documents have not been submitted, the only remaining tool for a Safety Codes Officer to consider is to issue a stop work order which may be viewed as being an extraordinary action compared to the ability for owners and design professionals to submit the required design documents. For this reason, some authorities have deferred the issuance of a building permit until such time as all design documents, including all drawings and specifications, are confirmed to be sufficiently clear and complete.
These questions relate to the desire by owners and design professionals for building permits to be processed in a timely manner and the responsibilities of the authorities having jurisdiction to review for submitted design documents completeness and monitor project safety. Owners and design consultants should consider that incomplete design submissions may represent a risk to the authorities having jurisdiction and may substantially increase their document review efforts.
As demonstrated by this webinar, municipalities balance an interest to support the objectives of their community development partners against their Safety Codes Act obligations. It is within the purview of each jurisdiction to determine the documents review policies and procedures that make best use of its availed personnel and resources to support the documents review and building permitting process in relation to its community development objectives. Owners and design professionals might consider what could be done to convince permitting authorities that any missing design information will be submitted in due course while the permitting authorities might consider issuing conditional or sequential permits.
The AAA believes it is reasonable for an authority having jurisdiction to defer the issuance of a building permit until such time as all design documents submitted in support of the building permit application are sufficiently clear and complete, and that in the determination of the design professionals and the authority, the project is ready to proceed to construction. Specifications that do not include the correct project title may be assessed as being incomplete by the reviewing authority and it would be appropriate for the authority to obtain clarification before issuing a permit. However, it should also be recognized that some building components and systems may not be fully designed until after the construction has commenced due to various trade tendering strategies that may be utilized. In such instances, it is particularly important for design professionals to promptly provide drawing and specification updates to the safety codes authorities and to facilitate positive working relationships to assist safety codes authorities in fulfilling their project safety monitoring obligations under the Safety Codes Act.
The AAA reminds its members about the above noted roles and responsibilities of safety codes officers and encourages them to work respectfully with all authorities having jurisdiction to resolve any code-related issues or concerns that may be raised. It is not reasonable for project circumstances or schedule pressures to be used as an excuse to disregard the information requirements or disrespect the important roles of either the authorities having jurisdiction or the design professionals. Mutually respectful working relationships must be maintained at all times since we are all commonly motivated to maintain the interests of the public as the primary objective under the Architects Act and Safety Codes Act.
The City of Calgary and City of Edmonton views information included on drawings that refers to another project as reference information only. Drawing information that is issued for construction should clearly convey all of the intended work with any unrelated information excluded. Drawings submitted at the building permit stage are required to clearly identify the required fire protection systems and the locations of the riser room, fire pump room and fire department connections. Sprinkler drawings are viewed as a deferred submission at the building permit stage but must be submitted in advance of an occupancy permit application.
Safety Codes Act, Example - Firewalls for +15 Links
Are firewalls required for +15 building connecting linkages?
Because +15-building connecting linkages typically occur along property lines that separate building lots and public roadways, the National Building Code - Alberta Edition requirement for a firewall to be constructed between separate adjoining buildings under separate ownership, as pertaining to the Land Titles Act, does not apply. If a +15-building connection is used to connect buildings on separate adjacent properties, firewalls would be required if the intent is for the connecting buildings to be maintained under separate ownership under the Land Titles Act.
Gender Neutral Washrooms
Is gender neutrality being address regarding washroom requirements?
The objective of the National Building Code - Alberta Edition (NBC-AE) is to design for adequate washroom capacity based on the total number of building occupants. The capacity requirements can be achieved through a combination of washrooms designated for male, female and universal or all gender use. An owner and designer may sign and designate washrooms based on the expected type of building occupants that may vary by location. Designating universal washrooms as gender neutral or designing all gender washrooms with shared sinks and multiple toilet stalls constructed as full enclosures to mitigate unwanted surveillance risks are currently acceptable methods for meeting the capacity requirements.
National Energy Code for Buildings Design Resources
BC Hydro and the City of Calgary have online resources available to assist design professionals to comply with the Safety Codes Act/National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB). Does the City of Edmonton have any similar resources available to assist designers in meeting NECB design requirements for low rise multiple family projects in Edmonton using compliance or trade-off methods?
The BC Hydro Power Smart guidelines include resources such as third party tested assemblies relating to climate zone 7A that can be used to inform the designs for projects located in Edmonton and should be acceptable to the authorities having jurisdiction.
Acceptable methods for calculating the effects of thermal bridging as pertaining to “A-184.108.40.206.(5).(a) Thermal Bridging Calculations” of the NECB include in the “Building Envelope Thermal Bridging Guide” available through BC Hydro or the Licensing and Consumer Services branch of BC Housing and the ASHRAE Research Project Report RP-1365, “Thermal Performance of Building Envelope Details for Mid-Rise and High-Rise Buildings.”
B2 Schedules of Professional Involvement for Steel Fabricators
Is it acceptable to submit a Structural B2 schedule that include the "qualifications of welded steel fabricators and erectors" as evidence that the requirements of 220.127.116.11. have been met?
18.104.22.168 refers to the process for certifying companies and personnel through the Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB). The design of welded steel components must meet the requirements of “CSA S16 - Design of Steel Structures," and “CSA S136 - North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members” using the Appendix B provisions applicable to Canada. Both standards require that the design, fabrication and erection of steel structures be undertaken by companies and personnel certified by the CWB. This certification provides the registered engineering professional with the confidence that the design, fabrication and erection of welded steel is performed by companies having appropriately qualified personnel.
Upon completion of the project and prior to the issuance of an occupancy peermit, both a B2 Schedule and a CWB Certificate should be signed, sealed and submitted by a CWB certified structural engineering entity.
Canadian Welding Bureau Certificate
What is a CWB certificate?
CWB = Canadian Welding Bureau.
Gas Station Authorities and Standards
Which authority having jurisdiction looks after gas stations?
There are numerous aspects of the National Building Code - Alberta Edition and the National Fire Code - Alberta Edition relating to the design of gas stations, including standards for motor fuel dispensing facilities and repair garages, the design and storage of fuel tanks and fuel distribution systems. Architects must work closely with qualified mechanical engineers in the design of such facilities. The Petroleum Tank Management Association of Alberta (PTMAA) is the delegated authority that administers the Alberta Fire Code as it relates to storage system construction, registration, upgrading, testing, closure, maintenance and operation standards. The design requirements prescribed through these noted standards and administrative bodies form part of the building design for gas stations that must be submitted through the designated safety codes authorities depending on the project location.
Application of Building Code to Renovation Projects
A community building is undergoing renovations. The elevator requires maintenance and it is decided to be upgraded. How can we ensure barrier-free requirements are met?
Assurance that barrier-free requirements are met can be obtained by preparing a design that complies with all aspects of the National Building Code - Alberta Edition. Because the project is a renovation of an existing design, discussions between the owner, design professionals and the authorities having jurisdiction to negotiate the most appropriate upgrading approach to addressing current building code requirements while recognizing complying with all aspects of the current building code may be cost prohibitive and unpractical. The building code explicitly permits such negotiations to occur in good faith. Ultimately, decisions to modify the existing building should carefully consider all practical options that protect the interests of the public.
With regards to addressing elevator barrier-free capacity during construction, the owner should consider announcements to be posted regarding the temporary loss of elevator access during maintenance and upgrades and/or conduct work during times when user access is not required. Good project and schedule planning is important to minimize the loss of elevator access during construction.