“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” ~ Winston Churchill
We believe in an integrated approach, working cooperatively with key stakeholders, construction companies and local authorities to ensure all building and user requirements, current and future, are not only reflected in the design but also adhere to all federal, provincial and local building codes and standards. This is achieved through mutual, open communication with local authorities to meet Ontario Building Code (OBC) and other standards established by the Canadian Standards Authority (CSA), or other requirements of authorities who may have jurisdiction over the project.
The first National Building Code (NBC) was introduced in 1941. To keep pace with the latest technologies and innovations, and to ensure they are applied safely, the NBC is updated approximately every five years. Similarly, provincial building codes are frequently updated. For example, the 2012 Ontario Building Code contained substantial changes, particularly with respect to accessibility, which came into effect as of January 2015. We hired Les Muniak from Sereca Larden Muniak to provide a three-hour, in-house seminar for all senior Parkin staff, to ensure that everyone:
a) knows what the changes are,
b) understands their implications, and
c) has the tools to effectively implement the new code for projects.
While consistent building codes exist at national and provincial levels, it is our experience that local building officials and authorities often have their own unique interpretations of how those requirements should be applied. This can be particularly true in some municipalities where building officials may not have a lot of experience or exposure to the specialty occupancy code requirements. For example, healthcare facilities are classified under a Group B Division 2 (B2) occupancy classification but if the facility is to include assisted living or managed health care departments, this would fall under a related occupancy classification called Group B Division 3 (B3).
The best way to describe our collaborative approach is highlighted in the two examples below:
- When a new hospital was planned for Woodstock, Ontario, we met with the Chief Building Official and senior City of Woodstock bureaucrats prior to the beginning of the project. We worked with them to determine the best approach for them to review the contract documents in a timely way, and one in which they had a level of comfort. We discussed sequential permits. We sat down with the Plans Examiners and walked them through the contract documents prior to the formal submission and answered questions about the content and ensured that there was a level of understanding of the documents, necessary to get approvals in a timely manner. There had not been a building permit application for a hospital project in Woodstock previously, so the building officials had not been exposed to the code requirements for a B2 occupancy. We have found that this approach of contacting the planners and the building department, establishing a positive rapport prior to the submission of documents for review and determining their needs, has resulted in a successful relationship.
- For Barrie’s Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, (and other projects), we collaboratively established protocols for the turnover procedures for multi-phased construction projects with the Building and Fire departments. The building officials were part of the team and seen as contributing positively to the success of the project. In addition, when issues of existing non-conforming situations came up, the Chief Building Official was part of the team which developed an approach to resolving how best to meet the intent of the OBC while dealing with the situation.