Does current building code apply to a renovation?

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Posted by: from Toronto
10/6/2015 at 6:13:52 PM

My girlfriend and I have purchased a home in Toronto that has been completely renovated in the last year. The only condition is that "the stairs to the attic be re-done to provide a lesser pitch". The seller is attempting to cheap out by increasing the tread depth without rebuilding the stairs. I have indicated that this is not an acceptable solution. I have not had a chance to measure the rise/run but I don't expect it to pass the current code. Does the current code apply in this case?

Does current building code apply to a renovation?
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Date/Time10/6/2015 at 8:17:58 PM

Hi, any renovation which was done would be in the ontario building code under part 9.

If the stairs were modified in any way, it comes under the building code. I suggest that you confirm with the City planning department that a permit was issued for work done.

second, be increasing the depth of the tread, it may make going up the stairs "feel" more comfortable, because there is more tread under foot, however coming down it's not going to change.

To reduce pitch, affording more tread, the overal horizontal span would need to be increased (based on picture) approx. minimum 16 to 20 inches. I.E. the bottom riser which has the first tread resting on it , would need to be another 16 - 20 inches from its current position.

Having said that, the clearance height on any given tread to ceiling directly above it is to be 83 inches.



Ajax ON

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Date/Time10/6/2015 at 8:18:59 PM

Yes, ont. building code has a maximum riser height of 6,7/8". And each step must be at the same height throughout regardless of the # of runs. Any alterations to stairs requires a permit. The same goes with a railing System. I am sure that if you work with the seller he will do it right.

Hope this helps.

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Tim in Toronto
Date/Time10/6/2015 at 11:40:20 PM

Thanks for the help! I'm looking at table in the building code and it looks to me like maximum rise on a private stair is 200 mm, a fair bit larger than 6 7/8". Am I missing something?

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Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time10/7/2015 at 8:29:04 PM

Hi Tim,

Building code does state specific rules for staircases in a house, however this may be a gray area as an attic isn't considered living space so I don't know if the rules literally apply for this application. If the area was finished for the purpose of living space then I building code rules will apply.

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Brian from Next Restoration in Rockwood
Date/Time10/8/2015 at 11:15:39 AM

If the stairs are a pull down type then it is considered a ladder not a stair case. But, if they are fixed and secure then they are considered a stair case and must be up to code.

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Date/Time10/8/2015 at 8:15:29 PM

Hi Tim,

Yes, the Ontario Building Code does apply to a renovation or any construction regardless of whether or not a permit was required or obtained...however, obviously the current code would only apply to renovations or construction done after 2012 and the 2006 code would apply for projects between 2006 and 2012, and so on.

There is however the possibility that a Municipalities Building Department can add additional restrictions but they cannot offer less than what is stated in the code.

Finally, you are correct. The 200mm (7 7/8") rise stated in table of the current OBC does apply to "Private Stairs" which are defined as "Interior stairs within dwelling units", and a maximum run per tread and tread depth is limited to 355mm (14").

Of note in your case, the minimum run of a tread on a Private Stair can be no less than 210mm (8 1/4"). That might be worth checking on your stairs. Note that the tread run is not the same as the tread depth, so measure the actual notch in the stringer not the tread.

And lastly, the minimum clearance above a stair must be 1950mm or 6'4 3/4".

I hope this helps.

Good Luck!

Jason Irving

Cedarfalls Building Consultants Limited

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