Ontario to Permit Mid-Rise Wood Frame Buildings up to 6 Storeys as of January 1, 2015
Through amendments to the Building Code introduced by Ontario Regulation 191/14, Ontario will increase the permissible height of wood frame buildings from the current 4 storeys to 6 storeys effective January 1, 2015.
While these changes have received broad support from the home construction industry, certain industry stakeholders have raised concerns around the increased fire risk posed by wood frame construction. The amendments as passed respond to these concerns by requiring stairwells to be constructed of non-combustible materials and roofs to be combustion resistant.
The local municipality is the authority having jurisdiction for enforcing the Building Code. Accordingly, municipalities will need to ensure that their building officials are familiar with and able enforce the new Building Code provisions around mid-rise wood frame construction by the time they come into force on January 1, 2015, including that all requirements around fire risk prevention and/or mitigation are adhered to.
At the time of writing, the Code Advisory Unit of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) advised that it was developing overview material on the Code changes related to midrise wood construction which would be posted on the MMAH website shortly. George Brown College, which has responsibility for the development and delivery of Building Code training, is also in the process of updating its training materials to reflect the new content. Municipalities will want to monitor for additional information from these sources, but in the meantime will have to rely on the amended Code provisions as set out in Ontario Regulation 191/14.