As of September 1, 2020, Order in Council 990-2018 concerning accessibility inside dwelling units is now mandatory. The 24-month transition period since its coming into force on September 1, 2018 has ended and the application of these new requirements is now necessary.

Although the transition period is over, some projects whose construction was delayed after September 1 by the current situation with COVID-19 may avoid the application of the requirements of the Decree by obtaining official approval from the Régie du bâtiment du Québec. To do so, an alternative measure application must be submitted. If needed, Technorm can help you verify whether your project can be subject to such an application and assist you in the process. However, it must be made as quickly as possible.

All of the dwelling units concerned must now meet either the requirements of the “minimally accessible” or the “adaptable” dwelling units. The proportion of each type is left up to the owner and designer. The requirements apply to 100% of the affected dwelling units, but not all units are concerned.

There are some exceptions to the application of the new accessibility requirements. It should also be remembered that a barrier-free path is not required inside all buildings or parts of buildings. These exemptions in the application of the new requirements for inside accessibility to dwelling units are referenced in different places in the regulation. It is therefore very easy to be confused. In order to get a clearer picture, we have summarized the scope of application of the new accessibility requirements inside dwelling units in a few points.

The requirements of Article 3.2.8.5. and Subsections 3.8.4. or 3.8.5. apply to:

  • buildings subject to the application of Chapter I, Building, of the Building Code. If the building is exempted (2 storeys and less or 8 dwelling units and less), then the applicable requirements must be validated with the municipality [Art. 1.04. Chapter I of the Building Code, Chapter B-1.1, r.2],
  • buildings covered by the scope of application of Section 3.8 “Barrier-free design”. Single-family houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, boarding houses and rooming houses with fewer than 10 rooms are excluded [3.8.1.1.],
  • dwelling units (Group C use) only [3.8.2.5. 1)]. The requirements do not apply to dwelling units in care facilities (Group B3 occupancy), nor to hotel condos which are covered by Article 3.8.2.4. instead,
  • new constructions and expansions. Minor or major alterations and changes in use are excluded [10.3.8.5.],
  • the entrance floor of affected buildings and floor areas accessed by elevators or other vertical transportation equipment only [3.8.2.1.(1)],
  • Part 9 buildings, where the floor levels of dwelling units are located 600 mm or less from the principal entrance level [9.5.2.3.(2)]. Otherwise, for Part 3 and Part 9 buildings, the requirements apply to the entrance floor [3.8.2.1.(1)],
  • Part 9 buildings that have a common building entrance only. Part 9 buildings with only individual dwelling unit entrances are excluded [9.5.2.3.(1)].

Details about individual entrances of dwelling units

Some clients asked about individual housing entrances. We therefore bring additional information and examples to clarify this situation. Indeed, the individual entrances of dwelling units are treated differently if the building to which they belong:

  • is covered by Part 3 or Part 9, and
  • contains entirely individual entrances or both individual and common entrances.

Part 3 Building

For a building subject to Part 3, Section 3.8 “Barrier-Free Design” is applicable in every building subjected to this Section. It requires that at least half of the pedestrian entrances to a building be barrier-free [3.8.1.2.(1)].

Since a barrier-free entrance is required on the ground floor of such a building, a barrier-free path from that entrance and throughout the floor area of that entrance is required [3.8.2.1.(1)]. A designer who wishes to provide individual entrances on the first level must, in addition to providing individual entrances, provide barrier-free access. This could be achieved through a public corridor via an accessible common entrance, or by providing accessible individual entrances for each dwelling unit. Sentence 3.8.2.1.(1) requires a barrier-free path from the required building barrier-free entrance to the entire entrance floor. Therefore, the requirements for minimally accessible or adaptable dwelling units must be applied to the suites on the entrance level.

Part 9 Building

In a building subject to Part 9, the barrier-free design requirements do not apply to dwelling units that are not accessed by a common entrance. Therefore, a building that would have only individual dwelling units without a common building entrance is not covered by the barrier-free design requirements.

Also in a Part 9 building, the required barrier-free design at the entrance is not required if the difference in level between the floor of the entrance and the floor of each dwelling unit is greater than 600 mm.

In both of the above cases, the requirements for minimally accessible or adaptable dwelling units do not need to be applied, as the buildings are not covered by the barrier-free design.

A building subject to Part 9 could have a common entrance located at a level equal to or less than 600 mm from the floor level of each dwelling unit on the first level. Access through a barrier-free path would then be required for the dwelling units on the first level, even if they are also only accessed by individual entrances.

To learn more

Would you like to know more about the requirements for inside accessibility to dwelling units? Technorm is offering a 3.5-hour training session on the subject for the last time this fall. In 2021, a new training will be offered on accessibility in residential buildings. Discover our training offer.

Questions on the subject? Contact the author of the article!

By Stéphanie Leclerc, architect, Codes and standards – Fire safety team

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