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Brian, Architect
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Regarding Ontario building codes for living quarters. What

Resolved Question:

Regarding Ontario building codes for living quarters. What rules apply to separating living quarters from the garage (i.e, must there be a fire wall between garage and access (stairs) to living quarters?) Can't seem to find info on line. I've tried Ontario building code for living quarter above garage to no avail.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  Brian replied 1 year ago.
Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be helping you today.

The following is from the Ontario Building Code.

From what I can tell, #3,#4,#5 applies to you, but read the rest to confirm. I've included the door requirements and the vapour barrier requirements....read those to see what applies to you.

9.10.9.16. Separation of Storage Garages
(1) Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3), a storage garage shall be separated from other occupancies by a fire separation having not less than a 1.5 h fire-resistance rating.
(2) Except as permitted in Sentence (3), storage garages containing 5 motor vehicles or fewer shall be separated from other occupancies by a fire separation of not less than 1 h.
(3) Where a storage garage serves only the dwelling unit to which it is attached or in which it is built, it shall be considered as part of that dwelling unit and the fire separation required in Sentence (2) need not be provided between the garage and the dwelling unit.
(4) Where a storage garage is attached to or built into a building of residential occupancy,
(a) an air barrier system conforming to Subsection 9.25.3 (below), shall be installed between the garage and the remainder of the building to provide an effective barrier to gas and exhaust fumes, and
(b) every door between the garage and the remainder of the building shall conform to Article 9.10.13.15.(below)
(5) Where membrane materials are used to provide the required airtightness in the air barrier system, all joints shall be sealed and structurally supported.

9.10.13.15. Doors Between Garages and Dwelling Units
(1) A door between an attached or built-in garage and a dwelling unit shall be tight-fitting and weatherstripped to provide an effective barrier against the passage of gases and exhaust fumes and shall be fitted with a self-closing device.
(2) A doorway between an attached or built-in garage and a dwelling unit shall not be located in a room intended for sleeping.

9.25.3. Air Barrier Systems

9.25.3.1. Required Barrier to Air Leakage
(1) Wall, ceiling and floor assemblies that separate conditioned spaces from unconditioned spaces shall be constructed so as to include an air barrier system that will provide a continuous barrier to air leakage,
(a) from the interior of the building into wall, floor, attic or roof spaces sufficient to prevent excessive moisture condensation in such spaces during the heating season, and
(b) from the exterior inward sufficient to prevent moisture condensation on the room side during the heating season.
(2) The continuity of the air barrier system shall extend throughout the basement.
9.25.3.2. Air Barrier System Properties
(1) Sheet and panel type materials intended to provide the principal resistance to air leakage shall have an air leakage characteristic not greater than 0.02 L/(s∙m2) measured at an air pressure differential of 75 Pa.
(2) Where polyethylene sheet is used to provide the air-tightness in the air barrier system, it shall conform to CAN/CGSB-51.34-M, “Vapour Barrier, Polyethylene Sheet for Use in Building Construction”.
9.25.3.3. Continuity of the Air Barrier System
(1) Where the air barrier system consists of an air-impermeable panel-type material, all joints shall be sealed to prevent air leakage.
(2) Where the air barrier system consists of flexible sheet material, all joints shall be,
(a) sealed with compatible material such as tape or flexible sealant, or
(b) except as required by Sentence (3), lapped not less than 100 mm and clamped, such as between framing members, furring or blocking and rigid panels.
(3) Where an air barrier system consisting of flexible sheet material is installed at locations where it is not supported by an interior finish, such as a behind a bath tub, shower enclosure or fireplace, the continuity of the air barrier shall be maintained by sealing its joints.
(4) Where an interior wall meets an exterior wall, ceiling, floor or roof required to be provided with an air barrier protection, the air barrier system shall extend across the intersection and shall be sealed in accordance with Sentences (1) and (2).
(5) Where an interior wall projects through a ceiling or extends to become an exterior wall, spaces in the wall shall be blocked to provide continuity across those spaces with the air barrier system in the abutting walls or ceiling by,
(a) sealing each air barrier to the blocking, or
(b) wrapping each air barrier around the transition and sealing in accordance with Sentences (1) and (2).
(6) Where an interior floor projects through an exterior wall or extends to become an exterior floor, continuity of the air barrier system shall be maintained from the abutting walls across the floor assembly.
(7) Where an interior floor projects through an exterior wall to become an exterior floor,
(a) the air barrier of the wall under the floor shall be continuous with or sealed to the subfloor or the air barrier on the underside of the floor,
(b) the air barrier of the wall above the floor shall be continuous with or sealed to the subfloor or the air barrier on the top of the floor, and
(c) the spaces between floor joists shall be blocked and sealed.
(8) Where a header wrap is used as an air barrier, it shall be sealed or lapped to the wall air barrier above and below in accordance with Sentences (1) and (2).
(9) Penetrations of the air barrier system, such as those created by the installation of electrical wiring, electrical boxes, piping or ductwork, shall be sealed with compatible material such as tape or caulking to maintain the integrity of the air barrier system over the entire surface.
(10) Penetrations of the air barrier system, such as those created by the installation of doors, windows and other fenestration shall be sealed to maintain the integrity of the air barrier system over the entire surface.
(11) Where an interior air barrier is penetrated by doors, windows and other fenestration, the air barrier shall be sealed to the door frame or window frame with,
(a) compatible tape, or
(b) spray foam insulation.
(12) Where an exterior air barrier is penetrated by doors, windows and other fenestration, the air barrier shall be sealed to the door frame or window frame with,
(a) compatible flexible flashing material,
(b) caulking, or
(c) spray foam insulation.
(13) An access hatch installed through an assembly constructed with an air barrier system shall be weatherstripped around the perimeter to prevent air leakage.
(14) Clearances between chimneys or gas vents and the surrounding construction that would permit air leakage from within the building into a wall or attic or roof space shall be sealed by noncombustible material to prevent such leakage and shall be sealed to the air barrier with tape or another compatible material, and to the vent with high temperature caulking in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
(15) Where the foundation wall and floor slab are used as an air barrier, they shall be caulked at all joints, intersections and penetrations.
(16) Sump pit covers shall be sealed.
9.25.3.4. Vapour Barriers Used as Air Barriers
(1) A vapour barrier used as an air barrier shall comply with the requirements of this Subsection.
9.25.4. Vapour Barriers

9.25.4.1. Required Barrier to Vapour Diffusion
(1) Thermally insulated wall, ceiling and floor assemblies shall be constructed with a vapour barrier sufficient to prevent condensation in the wall spaces, floor spaces or attic or roof spaces.
9.25.4.2. Vapour Barrier Materials
(1) Except as provided in Sentences (2) and (3), vapour barriers shall have a permeance not greater than 60 ng/(Pa∙s∙m2), measured in accordance with ASTM E96, “Water Vapor Transmission of Materials”, using the desiccant method (dry cup).
(2) Where the mild climate indicator, determined in accordance with Sentence 9.25.1.2.(6), is greater than 6300, vapour barriers shall be designed according to Part 5, where,
(a) the intended use of the interior space requires the indoor relative humidity to be maintained above 35% over the heating season and the ventilating and air-conditioning system is designed to maintain that relative humidity, or
(b) the intended use of the interior space results in an average monthly indoor relative humidity above 35% over the heating season and the ventilating and air-conditioning system does not have the capacity to reduce the average monthly relative humidity to 35% or less over that period.
(3) Where the mild climate indicator, determined in accordance with Sentence 9.25.1.2.(6), is less than or equal to 6300, vapour barriers shall be designed according to Part 5, where,
(a) the intended use of the interior space requires the indoor relative humidity to be maintained above 60% over the heating season and the ventilating and air-conditioning system is designed to maintain that relative humidity, or
(b) the intended use of the interior space results in an average monthly indoor relative humidity above 60% over the heating season and the ventilating and air-conditioning system does not have the capacity to reduce the average monthly relative humidity to 60% or less over that period.
(4) Where polyethylene is installed to serve as the vapour barrier, it shall conform to CAN/CGSB-51.34-M, “Vapour Barrier, Polyethylene Sheet for Use in Building Construction”.
(5) Membrane-type vapour barriers other than polyethylene shall conform to CAN/CGSB-51.33-M, “Vapour Barrier, Sheet, Excluding Polyethylene, for Use in Building Construction”.
(6) Where a coating is applied to gypsum board to function as the vapour barrier, the permeance of the coating shall be determined in accordance with CAN/CGSB-1.501-M, “Method for Permeance of Coated Wallboard”.
9.25.4.3. Installation of Vapour Barriers
(1) Vapour barriers shall be installed to protect the entire surfaces of thermally insulated wall, ceiling and floor assemblies.
(2) Vapour barriers shall be installed sufficiently close to the warm side of insulation to prevent condensation at design conditions.


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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hello Brian! Many thanks for your response. Please confirm my understanding of Bldg Code 9.10.9.16.4 a & b. My understanding (ie., applies to living space directly above garage) is that stairs that access into the living space and the living space cannot be exposed to gas or exhaust fumes in the garage area therefore access must be separated by way of a wall with sufficient barrier and the door separating must be weatherstripped as an effective barrier. This of course is assuming there is no door at the top of the stairs accessing the living quarters (ie., top of stairs would provide full view of living quarters).

Expert:  Brian replied 1 year ago.
Hi Tammy,

The code doesn't address where the living space is located, such as above or next to. So, yes you do not need a fire rating but you need to provide the vapour barrier between any living space and the garage. I didn't know your exact conditions so I provided the entire section on vapour barriers so that you could determine what applies to your situation.

The stairs can either be part of the garage, with a door at the top. Or the stairs can be part of the living space, with a door at the bottom. This option may help you solve where the vapour barrier goes.

The door does need to comply with the "door section" that I provided and it cannot open into a space that will be used for sleeping.

If you need any thing else do not hesitate to reply to this thread. If you are satisfied with the answer please rate my answer. Thank you and have a great night.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Your a wealth of info. Bravo! Have one more question! Although this is not related to the living quarters. If the the garage portion is approx. 28' wide with 3 - 8' garage doors are metal lentils required for each or is a wood headers sufficient?

Expert:  Brian replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome Tammy. Steel is rarely needed in residential construction unless you are building a home where the cost is in the millions. It is hard for me to answer whether steel is needed without knowing exactly what weight is being supported above these door headers. But, typically wood will do the job, they just need to be sized appropriately by calculating the weight above that they are supporting. In a typical residence, the loads are not that great and wood can be used for the headers. The headers are typically called LVL's because they are made of laminated veneer lumber which is stronger than typical 2x lumber.

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Experience: Licensed Architect- 17 years, L.E.E.D. AP
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