Small Victories!

Well folks, I am very pleased and extremely relieved to advise we have worked through the roadblock imposed by the Municipality last October regarding my building envelope.

I today delivered the final required letter of assurance filled out in a manner acceptable to the staff and now have authorization to proceed on completing my building envelope.  I am so grateful to Pierre-Michel from Busque Engineering, for helping me navigate through this latest impossible roadblock erected by the local Municipality.  I am also thankful to Nathan Proper from Tacoma Engineering, for his continued assistance as my registered professional of record.  I am also thankful to Murray from Building It Right, for helping guide me through this process and rattling some trees in the background.

What has been most upsetting during this process is that both the engineer who came to site from RDH and Pierre both questioned why the District had any concerns, as what I was doing was well above and beyond code requirements and demonstrated best practices for building envelopes.  It is my belief the road-block resulted from the inspectors not being comfortable/experienced with advanced envelopes, which in my view is a sad commentary on the training they are receiving.  What is frustrating is that they do not appear able to recognize the same barriers in an advanced envelopes (one incorporating exterior insulation) as those required by code minimum builds.

Both systems have a primary water shedding surface (cladding, flashings, windows & doors), and a secondary water resistant barrier (sheathing membrane, foil face membrane, and again flashings).  The code refers to this as the ‘two planes of protection’.  Usually, the dwellings being inspected have these two layers in fairly close proximity (they are only separated by the rain screen strapping – either 3/8” or ¾”).  However on a dwelling incorporating exterior insulation, there is a larger gap between these two layers, to account for the thickness of the insulation (in my case an additional 6” gap).

BUT, does this larger gap change the function of the two barriers???  Of course not.  While it does make the sequencing a bit more important (and challenging), usually requiring all components to be built up at the same time so that they can overlap each other appropriately, it does not significantly change the basic function and installation details of each barrier.

To me, it appears that homes built to the Part 9 of the Building Code are going to become extinct in the very near future.  As Municipalities adopt the new Provincial Step Code program that encourages higher performance structures, it is clear to me that Municipal Building Departments may not have adequate man-power or training to address the inspection needs of these new constructions, and instead of raising their game, are instead negating their responsibility in my opinion, and transferring it to the building community in the form of requiring professional overview of the build by engineers and now even architects.  This is going to make single-family construction, on average, a LOT more expensive.

Is this the right direction to be going??? Does it align with the goals and intent of the code officials in Victoria and Ottawa???  I know what I think, would love to hear your thoughts.

With this all being said, I AM EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that my building department compromised with me and reverted back to their original decision to only require an engineering sign off (instead of also an architect).  I really did not have it in me financially or emotionally, and do not have the time to start all over at this late stage of the build, to bring on an architect!

Thanks for visiting!

“Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy. ” —Saadi (1200-1291) A Major Persian Poet And Literary Of The Medieval Period

“If you don’t stick to your values when they are being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies.” —Jon Stewart (born 1962) Television Host, Writer, Comedian

“Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination.” —William Longgood  Author

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4 Responses to Small Victories!

  1. Chris says:

    Given that most houses built in DNV have tar paper wrap and super cheap vinyl windows, I am not surprised that their inspectors are not familair with advance envelopes.

  2. Sean Wiens Sean Wiens says:

    Big Laugh. Although I see black paper wrap less than other sheathing membranes, it is still common. But yes, cheap vinyl windows are prevalent everywhere I look.

  3. Phillip Warner says:

    I agree I think the days of true owner-builders is disappearing as the building code becomes more technical, especially with references to CSA codes that are behind pay-walls. As well, the amount of professional sign off required. i think i have like 7 professionals (engineers, etc for my build) it’s crazy and that is with me doing everything . Even with an envelope engineer the city of white rock still appears to be involved in exterior inspection just like all the other stuff signed off by geotech or structural. Seems so redundant and silly

    Back from vacation and returning to building at a snails pace 🙂 Give me a shout if in the area and say hi!

    • Sean Wiens Sean Wiens says:

      I think this will effect more than just owner-builders. I think Part 9 in general is in jeopardy as Municipalities start requiring professional review from all builders.

      Thanks for the invite. I will call when in the area.

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