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Remote buildings

Inspector Gadget

BRONZE MEMBER
Joined
Mar 5, 2020
Messages
874
Location
New Brunswick
I have an .... interesting ... situation here. I have been contacted by a contractor whose client wants to construct a dwelling unit on a tidal island .... so only accessible twice a day for about four-five hours.

NBC part 9 says every building has to be accessible by fire department vehicles. But somewhere, common sense has to prevail.

New Brunswick says that accessory buildings <592ft2 are exempt from Code.

My initial reaction is to
a) have the clients demonstrate that they've consulted local fire departments/first responders and that an aquatic access is in place for first responders (ie: ambulance crews if required), and
b) given the building is going to be off-grid and mindful that electrical codes say big batteries and especially lithium batteries pose a bit of a risk, I'm also going to ask that the battery building be located at a reasonable distance from the house, where "reasonable distance" is calculated using spatial separation for the accessory building's wall/face, assuming fire dept. response is NOT 10 minutes, at any time. I think I can justify that under the spatial separation calculations for the main building.

I think this is a fair/reasonable approach, but I'm open to alternate views.
 
The electrical code was trying to address the battery issue with a one hour fire separation. It got voted down because they tried to put it in the electrical code instead of the building code and electricians don't build fire separations.

There is currently a code change request for this with the CBHCC.
 
I have an .... interesting ... situation here. I have been contacted by a contractor whose client wants to construct a dwelling unit on a tidal island .... so only accessible twice a day for about four-five hours.

NBC part 9 says every building has to be accessible by fire department vehicles. But somewhere, common sense has to prevail.

New Brunswick says that accessory buildings <592ft2 are exempt from Code.

My initial reaction is to
a) have the clients demonstrate that they've consulted local fire departments/first responders and that an aquatic access is in place for first responders (ie: ambulance crews if required), and
b) given the building is going to be off-grid and mindful that electrical codes say big batteries and especially lithium batteries pose a bit of a risk, I'm also going to ask that the battery building be located at a reasonable distance from the house, where "reasonable distance" is calculated using spatial separation for the accessory building's wall/face, assuming fire dept. response is NOT 10 minutes, at any time. I think I can justify that under the spatial separation calculations for the main building.

I think this is a fair/reasonable approach, but I'm open to alternate views.
I believe the approach you propose is both fair and reasonable, but might not stand up under legal scrutiny, unless approved under an alternative solution.

Is this island inside of a municipality, or do the owners/contractor want to build to strict code standards for their own purposes?
 
The electrical code was trying to address the battery issue with a one hour fire separation. It got voted down because they tried to put it in the electrical code instead of the building code and electricians don't build fire separations.

There is currently a code change request for this with the CBHCC.
Based on discussions with the Sparky I hired to do my (off-grid) setup, the current code says that any lead-acid battery bank exceeding 1kwh, OR any lithium batteries, have to be in a separate building.
 
I believe the approach you propose is both fair and reasonable, but might not stand up under legal scrutiny, unless approved under an alternative solution.

Is this island inside of a municipality, or do the owners/contractor want to build to strict code standards for their own purposes?

Playing devil's advocate (I've already done this to myself, fwiw - being a philosophy student in university helps): who would be an expert sufficiently qualified to craft an alternative solution?

I think it's in a municipality, but that's not relevant: the regulations/code application/exemptions are unified across the province. Any dwelling unit > 625ft2 in floor area must meet Code.
 
A long time ago I lived in the town of Branford, Connecticut. Branford includes a chain of small islands known as the Thimble Islands, and many of the islands have houses on them. Some are very old, some are fairly recent. I was friendly with the building official who was there when I lived there, but he's long gone. I have met the current building official. He struck me as being fairly competent. You might reach out to him and ask him how they deal with houses on islands. His name is Tony Cinicola.

acinicola@branford-ct.gov
 
Playing devil's advocate (I've already done this to myself, fwiw - being a philosophy student in university helps): who would be an expert sufficiently qualified to craft an alternative solution?

I think it's in a municipality, but that's not relevant: the regulations/code application/exemptions are unified across the province. Any dwelling unit > 625ft2 in floor area must meet Code.
I am dealing with a similar situation:

I was brought in to help a First Nation that is constructing a 2-storey office building. The original design team was let go, and the design has some serious flaws. The building itself is modular construction and is now on site.

So, the building is largely constructed with some serious flaws already baked in. Because it is on reserve land, no building code is in effect. Insufficient budget to undertake major renovations.

I think I will recommend some trade-offs, such as enhanced alarm and detection in lieu of missing fire resistance ratings. Reasonable and practical, but what would a judge say if something went wrong?
 
I am dealing with a similar situation:

I was brought in to help a First Nation that is constructing a 2-storey office building. The original design team was let go, and the design has some serious flaws. The building itself is modular construction and is now on site.

So, the building is largely constructed with some serious flaws already baked in. Because it is on reserve land, no building code is in effect. Insufficient budget to undertake major renovations.

I think I will recommend some trade-offs, such as enhanced alarm and detection in lieu of missing fire resistance ratings. Reasonable and practical, but what would a judge say if something went wrong?
I had a vaguely similar issue with a federal building - exempt from provincial building bylaws. I couched my report in the line of "this is not to Code, and represents a demonstrable risk to life safety. Our office has no authority to order the required repairs, and consequently, can assume no responsibility for failure to implement the recommended repairs."

As soon as you suggest/recommend alternatives, I think you're assuming liability. Tell them what's wrong, what is required to make it Code compliant and leave it at that.
 
I had a vaguely similar issue with a federal building - exempt from provincial building bylaws. I couched my report in the line of "this is not to Code, and represents a demonstrable risk to life safety. Our office has no authority to order the required repairs, and consequently, can assume no responsibility for failure to implement the recommended repairs."

As soon as you suggest/recommend alternatives, I think you're assuming liability. Tell them what's wrong, what is required to make it Code compliant and leave it at that.
That's fair. I think I will word it something like you have above. The building came with a pile of smoke alarms already installed, so I will mention that this is above what code requires.
 
I am dealing with a similar situation:

I was brought in to help a First Nation that is constructing a 2-storey office building. The original design team was let go, and the design has some serious flaws. The building itself is modular construction and is now on site.

So, the building is largely constructed with some serious flaws already baked in. Because it is on reserve land, no building code is in effect. Insufficient budget to undertake major renovations.

I think I will recommend some trade-offs, such as enhanced alarm and detection in lieu of missing fire resistance ratings. Reasonable and practical, but what would a judge say if something went wrong?

What judge?

If it's on a reservation and no building code applies, would a lawsuit be heard under Canadian law or does the reservation have its own laws and its own court system?

This is difficult for me to imagine. We have several Native American reservations in my state, but they all use our state buioding code. I don't know if that's be law, treaty, informal agreement, or some other arrangement, but that's the case. I have known a couple of building officials who worked as the CBO on various of the reservations.
 
Based on discussions with the Sparky I hired to do my (off-grid) setup, the current code says that any lead-acid battery bank exceeding 1kwh, OR any lithium batteries, have to be in a separate building.
Nope. They used to have to be in the garage, but that recently changed.
 
What judge?

If it's on a reservation and no building code applies, would a lawsuit be heard under Canadian law or does the reservation have its own laws and its own court system?

This is difficult for me to imagine. We have several Native American reservations in my state, but they all use our state buioding code. I don't know if that's be law, treaty, informal agreement, or some other arrangement, but that's the case. I have known a couple of building officials who worked as the CBO on various of the reservations.
Largely First Nation communities rely on provincial and federal court systems when the acts fall outside of something they feel comfortable administering themselves.

You are correct where many do adopt the national building code. However, it is largely only enforced for housing. They generally have their own permitting and inspection regimes.
 
Largely First Nation communities rely on provincial and federal court systems when the acts fall outside of something they feel comfortable administering themselves.

You are correct where many do adopt the national building code. However, it is largely only enforced for housing. They generally have their own permitting and inspection regimes.
In BC, there are only a handful of First Nations that have adopted a building bylaw which put the building code into effect, these first Nations tend to be larger, located close to major centers, and well resourced. On all other reserve lands, there is a regulatory gap which has historically resulted in poor construction. You end up with inexperience and unqualified people undertaking construction management in an environment of no regulatory structure, and it gets messy. Just like the project I am describing.
 
What judge?

If it's on a reservation and no building code applies, would a lawsuit be heard under Canadian law or does the reservation have its own laws and its own court system?

This is difficult for me to imagine. We have several Native American reservations in my state, but they all use our state buioding code. I don't know if that's be law, treaty, informal agreement, or some other arrangement, but that's the case. I have known a couple of building officials who worked as the CBO on various of the reservations.
I am really not sure of how this could play out legally, but my personal calculus is always "what would a judge say?" It keeps a guy on his toes.
 
In BC, there are only a handful of First Nations that have adopted a building bylaw which put the building code into effect, these first Nations tend to be larger, located close to major centers, and well resourced. On all other reserve lands, there is a regulatory gap which has historically resulted in poor construction. You end up with inexperience and unqualified people undertaking construction management in an environment of no regulatory structure, and it gets messy. Just like the project I am describing.
We have a group of six of them who have banded together to provide common services. They are likely the most well organized in our province and have processes and services similar to cities several times their size in population.

A lesson for all municipalities on how collaboration can help maximize the services for tax dollars.
 
I have an .... interesting ... situation here. I have been contacted by a contractor whose client wants to construct a dwelling unit on a tidal island .... so only accessible twice a day for about four-five hours.

NBC part 9 says every building has to be accessible by fire department vehicles. But somewhere, common sense has to prevail.

New Brunswick says that accessory buildings <592ft2 are exempt from Code.

My initial reaction is to
a) have the clients demonstrate that they've consulted local fire departments/first responders and that an aquatic access is in place for first responders (ie: ambulance crews if required), and
b) given the building is going to be off-grid and mindful that electrical codes say big batteries and especially lithium batteries pose a bit of a risk, I'm also going to ask that the battery building be located at a reasonable distance from the house, where "reasonable distance" is calculated using spatial separation for the accessory building's wall/face, assuming fire dept. response is NOT 10 minutes, at any time. I think I can justify that under the spatial separation calculations for the main building.

I think this is a fair/reasonable approach, but I'm open to alternate views.
Please let us know how you decide to proceed with this, I find it interesting and relevant.
 
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