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Permits

Permits. They were difficult to acquire. As noted earlier there are some extra wrinkles to getting a Development Permit in Raven’s Ridge. Once we had our geotechnical memo supporting our relocation of the septic field, our DP was issued. It was a 2 month long endeavour. On our first house our permit was issued in half a day. Hold on folks, she’s going to get a bit technical.



The septic permit was something else. We finally have our septic permit. It only took 31 days and 42 emails. I have never applied for a septic permit before, but I am told they usually take 72 hours for conventional systems. Looking over this summary it seems like it shouldn't have taken this long, and I doubt it will again now that the details have been hashed out with Environmental Health (EHS).

Septic System

The tanks:

EHS requires photos of the plates on your supplied tanks indicating the burial and CSA certification. We also needed to send documentation from Canwest (the system manufacturer) which were signed and sealed by their engineer that the tanks meet CSA-B66-05 and the tested burial depths.

To maintain the NSF-40/245 certification (nitrogen reducing) the Ecopod systems need to be inspected 4 times in the first two years (once every six months). This work technically needs to be performed by a 'certified' service provider. Obviously no provider exists in the Yukon. On email 39 and day 29, we were desperate. We sent an email pleading to work on a creative solution to meet the inspection requirements. We obviously sounded sad enough, because our idea was accepted.

The field:

If you want to use the Yukon septic guide to size your field, you will have no issue. In our case we are building a 7 bedroom development, so the field would be 1650sqft. Part of the reason for using these systems is the reduced field sizes - especially on smaller lots, like Raven's Ridge.

We had our geotechnical engineer perform the percolation test and got 5min/inch. There was no push back from the regulator because they performed a sieve analysis on a sample as well.

This is where it gets tricky. The six month average effluent quality in the NSF testing is 9mg/L CBOD5 and 8mg/L of TSS. This kinda puts it in line with B-IV effluent in CSA-B65. Table 9 in CSA B65 has a note that these effluent levels need to be 30 day averages, however. If you read the fine print in the NSF-40 testing for the Ecopod, the thirty day averages are 9mg/L for CBOD5 and 13mg/L for TSS. This would put it in the range of B-III effluent. The Ecopod is formally certified as a NSF-40 Class 1 effluent which requires a maximum of 30 mg/L of TSS and 25mg/L of CBOD5 - this is equivalent to B-II effluent. Since it has been tested by a testing agency and certified formally to this standard, the regulator was only willing to go down to B-II effluent. We were frustrated at first, but honestly it is a 50% reduction from the Yukon septic requirements. Did all that sound boring? Because I did not know what any of that meant 3 months ago, but I feel like I could write a course on it now.

So we used the maximum hydraulic loading rates from CSA-B65 and the peak daily flows from the Yukon guide to run our calcs and ended up with a field that is 81sqm or 5.4m x 15m.

Permit achieved!

Building permit. This is really our wheelhouse. Didn’t really have any trouble with this one other than the City was a bit backed up. To speed things along we signed a Letter of Assurance for Design and Field Review (known as Schedules elsewhere) and that really got this moving faster. In short, Architects take professional responsibility for the design and field reviews on larger buildings but on smaller buildings we don’t. If not all houses would need an architect. We’d live in a better looking / better built world, but I will get off my soap box. The Yukon is one of two jurisdictions in Canada that does not have an Architects act, so actually we don’t formally exist as a profession. The City and the Yukon Government requires that an Architect registered in another jurisdiction or experienced ‘designer’ complete this oversight anyways. Just as an aside, the 15 architects in the territory recently met and are working with the government on putting together an Architects Act, but that is a discussion for another day. But in the case of a house we don’t need to sign these letters, but when you do the City breathes a sigh of relief – they are sharing the liability. Tends to get your permit approved faster. We will now educate you in the ways of Architecture a bit. Try not to fall asleep. I really geek out on this stuff. The National Building Code 2015 is in force in the Yukon. This is interesting because its actually a ‘model’ code that the provinces/territories are really supposed to modify, at least a little bit, but we use it raw and unadulterated. Who knew the code could be sexy. It isn’t. One interesting thing about the code is it actually takes into account that women take longer in the bathroom. I’m not kidding, this fact is codified in law.

Only really interesting bit here is the following sentence:  9.10.9.14 (2) SEPARATION OF RESIDENTIAL SUITES

SLEEPING ROOMS IN BOARDING AND LODGING HOUSES WHERE SLEEPING ACCOMODATION IS PROVIDED FOR NOT MORE THAN 8 BOARDERS OR LODGERS NEED NOT BE SEPARATED FROM THE REMAINDER OF THE FLOOR AREA AS REQUIRED BY SENTENCE (1) WHERE SLEEPING ROOMS FORM PART OF THE PROPRIETORS RESIDENCE AND DO NOT CONTAIN COOKING FACILITIES.

So……long and the short of it, if you are running a small enough B+B, you don’t need the sleeping rooms to be fire separated from the remainder of the house. In our case the B+B rooms do not have formal cooking facilites (stove / range / etc.)  We really want our B+B rooms to operate more like ‘suites’ but not as defined in the building code, but more like independent, private and acoustically separated hotel rooms. In the code a ‘suite’ is really a separate tenancy and requires fire separations / fire resistance ratings, etc. So we proposed to the City that we would separate the suites with a 1 hr fire resistance rating. That means the wall construction will withstand fire exposure on either side for 1 hr. Typically walls separating ‘rated’ spaces, also need a fire separation. This really refers to how ‘tight’ the wall is from fire breaking through any penetrations (piping, ducting, doors, etc). as well as how long the area on the other side of the fire will remain relatively smoke free. Typically when a duct penetrates a fire separation a fire damper is required. A damper is really just a shutter that activates when ambient temperatures melt a fusible link and passively close the damper. We want the B+B rooms to share a ventilation system but we really don’t want to install fire dampers because things get a bit complicated. So the walls have a fire resistance rating but in the strictest sense the rooms are not fire separations. We will be using 20 min fire doors and fire caulking any other penetrations so…..its 85% there. But the code does not require any of this so we are exceeding the requirements anyhow. Sometimes people treat the building code as a standard of excellence. It is not. It is the bare minimum.  The walls proposed are also STC 60 (sound transmission coefficient). The STC rating figure is roughly the expected decibel reduction across the wall. This is overly simplistic, but it will do for a basic explanation. (I mean there is airborne noise, structure borne noise, STC, NRC, IIC and honestly even we don’t understand it all…..)  So, conversations are about 50dB, background music or tv are 60dB, loud music 76dB. Or say, getting it on. So with a STC 60 wall, these noises are cut down to about 10dB which is the same as quiet breathing, and with a tiny bit of background noise, completely imperceptible. Perfect.

Other than that the City and 9.36 in the building code mandates minimum R-values (thermal resistance values) all of which we exceed, but I will get into that in the even more boring envelope post. The next post will have sexy images. We promise.

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