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  • Terrell Wong

Sticks and Stones may build my House, but Words Affect Your Permit


If it is not explicitly in the building code then it does not exist. A simple example is the word "render" used to describe the original lime stucco used commonly less than 100 years ago. It is simply lime, sand and water. Trying to be accurate, so as not to have latex stucco installed by accident, I labeled the building as finished with lime render. The examiner wrote this.

"The proposed "lime render cladding" does not comply with OBC 9.28 and 9.27 requirements. Provide revised wall construction specifications in compliance with O.B.C 9.28 and 9.27 requirements." This is a simple problem with a simple solution in the digital age. Replace the words "lime render" with the word "stucco" and trudge onward. Not so with rammed earth or straw bale. Neither are explicitly in the Ontario Building Code, so one has to go through the Alternative Solutions route. This procedure replaced Equivalency as of 2006. This is an application where you can argue that your choices of material exceed the code. I had difficulty even pursuing this route in Toronto because there is a general feeling amongst examiners that the Ontario Government has down loaded all the liability for accepting these materials to the municipalities by making them responsible for approving alternative solutions. I was informed that straw bale was inappropriate for the alternative solutions route and I should therefore go back up to the provincial level and have a BCC hearing to determine the appropriateness of straw bale. Fortunately for me, I have a copy of the original building examiners' training manual for alternative solutions where it clearly states, "An example of a proposed equivalent system could be a wall system of straw bale construction." Enclosed for your reading pleasure is my alternative solution for straw bale as insulation and reinforcing for "stucco" in the Ontario Building Code. I must give huge thanks to ASRifor their amazing work with the solution for the BC code. My solution translates much of their work as it pertains to the Ontario Code. I also scoured the Internet for any new information that might help. This is a living document in that changes happen all the time so we must update it each time we use it. Please feel free to use anything you find here. If you use it please donate to ASRi or the Ontario Natural Building Coalition. If you have new information let me know so I can add it to the compilation. I will post the remainder of my collection on a separate page. Good luck! We just received permits for both our straw bale house in Toronto and our rammed earth house in Ottawa. These are the two biggest markets in Ontario with the most rules. Hopefully, our team's efforts will make it easier for everyone else. Terrell Wong Architect for the Environment


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