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Ontario Building Code, 2012

Except as provided in Section 3.17. of Division B, Section 9.40. of Division B and Part 11 of Division B, if an existing building is extended or is subject to material alteration or repair, this Code applies only to the design and construction of the extensions and those parts of the building that are subject to the material alteration or repair.

My house. 1962 4-level back-split. Wood frame construction, Clad in double brick.

We're re-doing the kitchen. On part of the job will be to frame out the exterior brick wall with 2x4's instead of the existing 1" furring strips. The reason for this, is to allow enough depth in wall for modern electrical boxes. We are not interested in having boxes sticking out of the wall.

I'd also like to add some insulation in there while I'm at it, figuring "Hey, Why Not?"

Now it appears that the Ontario Building Code might put the kibosh on the entire (insulation) project.

The insulation section states that exterior walls in my area should be R22. This means I have to stud out the wall with 2x6's in order to fit in a batt. This would be an unacceptable encroachment on the space, and make the windows look absolutely ridiculous, having something like a 12" sill.

If this portion of the project is considered a "material alteration or repair", then I have no choice but to forgo adding any insulation, and find some sort of decorative box that looks ok sticking out of the wall. (this seems counter-productive, as any insulation is better than none).

If this is not "material alteration or repair", then I can proceed as planned.

Legal Discussion:

I figure replacing the drywall wouldn't trigger the new code, as it's finish work. If anything triggers the code, it would be the replacing of the furring strips with 2x4 studs. What if I simply attach 2x3's to the furring strips (1") and fill with insulation. Is that a sufficient loophole to get past the Permit Overlords?

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Ask your Local Authority Having Jurisdiction -- walk into the town inspector's office and ask them whether they would pass what you want to do or not, and if not whether there's some other way to accomplish what you want. They're the ones whose opinion is going to matter. – keshlam Jun 19 '14 at 2:48
I am not sure what the inspection order is in Canada but in the midwest I would simply frame and drywall and unless the inspector intimately knew my home he would know nothing. Not sure where you are at on this or how well you know the inspectors or how well they know your home but as a practice I tend to try to skip the legalese when safety isn't a concern and I am trying to improve something. – DMoore Jun 19 '14 at 3:47
In my experience, the folks at the building department are very helpful and willing to answer questions like this. The local government is the only one who can answer this question definitively, since it's them who will make the final decision. Trying to sneak it past the inspector is not the way to go. That's dishonest, unethical, and potentially dangerous. – Tester101 Jun 19 '14 at 10:27
@DMoore Unless it's the inspectors first week on the job, it's likely that they know more about how your house was built than you do. In most areas the buildings are fairly similar in construction, so inspectors are familiar with the various building types in their area. They should also be able to recognize new wood, and quickly identify obvious changes. Trying to slip things past inspectors is a dangerous game, that can lead to fine, fees, lost licenses, and potentially legal action against you. Do it right, or don't do it at all. – Tester101 Jun 19 '14 at 10:40
I've been involved with renovation projects on three homes with two different building authorities. In each case, the building inspector was more help than hindrance. They generally make allowances to accommodate existing structures that are practical (and safe), justifying it as subject to prior code. Ask. – bib Jun 19 '14 at 12:14

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