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The 2012 edition of the Ontario Building Code, which came into effect on January 1, 2014, contains new wording with regard to the requirements for design and general review by Architects and Professional Engineers. More specifically, this edition includes amendments such that Design and General Review now only reference design being carried out by a “suitably-qualified and experienced person”, while the General Review is required to be carried out by an Architect or Engineer in accordance with Table 126.96.36.199 (General Review).
Although the wording in the new Building Code is different, nothing has changed as to the requirements for professional design and general review of buildings as the Architects Act is the governing legislation (and Professional Engineers Act as it pertains to engineering).
An amendment to the Architects Act is not required to deal with this issue.
What is being actively sought by the OAA in conjunction with OBOA and PEO is an amendment to the Building Code Act which would once again provide Building Officials with the ability to enforce the Architects Act on behalf of the OAA where it relates to the need for professional design services by an architect as was the situation prior to 2007. Unfortunately these efforts have been unsuccessful to date, notwithstanding the situation now presents a public safety issue as well as a potentially considerable liability for municipalities.
In the interim, the OAA and PEO issued a Joint Bulletin titled “Design & General Review Requirements for Buildings in the Province of Ontario in 2007 which provides the information that had been contained previously in the Code. To help minimize the negative effects of this change in the Code and protect public safety, the OAA frequently urges and reminds Building Officials through various means to use this important reference document which reiterates the design requirements in the Architects Act and Professional Engineers Act when reviewing and assessing documents for permit.
Under this Bulletin, the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA), along with The Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO) continue to request that in accordance with the authority in Section 8(9.1) of the Ontario Building Code Act, that Chief Building Officials forward all submitted permit application documents that do not conform to the professional Acts to with the OAA or PEO respectively, which was indicated in a table similar to the previous OBC Table 188.8.131.52.. The OAA, through its enforcement mechanisms, actively pursues those who are in contravention of the professional design requirements set out in the Architects Act.
As background, the ‘Table” that had been contained in the Building Code (184.108.40.206) was inserted into the Code many years ago and was a reiteration of the professional design requirements in Ontario that are set out in the Architects Act and the Professional Engineers Act.
The Ruling of the Superior Court of Ontario on May 17, 2007 resulted in a decision that the information contained in Table 220.127.116.11 (Design and General Review) of the Ontario Building Code was improperly placed within the OBC in that it was already delineated and legislated under the Architects Act and the Professional Engineers Act. The decision of the Court was very clear that it is the responsibility of the two professions to enforce standards of practice and scope of practice.
The OAA has continued to work with MAH and other stakeholders on securing amendments which would address this gap.
Ontario Association of Architects
February 28, 2014