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Blueprint #2

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Dear OBOA Members:
For this second edition of Blueprint, we shift from the wide range of topics that we included in the first edition to only one – professional design. Members continue to have questions about when requirements for professional design apply, to whom do these requirements apply, and what qualifications are required to supply the service.

Working with the Building and Development Branch of MMAH, we offer the following questions and answers, and supporting links:

Professional Design

1. Where in the 2012 Building Code can building officials find requirements for professional design?

The 2012 Building Code (O. Reg. 332/12) does not include provisions regarding professional design of buildings by an architect or professional engineer that were previously set out in Division C, Section 1.2. of the 2006 Building Code (O. Reg. 350/06). 

This change resulted from a 2007 decision of the Divisional Court of Ontario that found that the Building Code Act, 1992 did not provide sufficient authority to allocate responsibility for the design of buildings between members of the professional engineering and architectural professions in the Building Code.  Further information about the decision can be obtained at: www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page8597.aspx.

Architects and professional engineers are both self-regulating professions and are regulated under the Architects Act and the Professional Engineers Act respectively.  These Acts define the scope of practice for architects and professional engineers undertaking design of buildings, including requirements for professional design of buildings and allocation of responsibility for professional design between these two professions.  
Therefore, information on the scope of practice for architects and professional engineers undertaking building design can still be found under the professional acts. 
Ontario Association of Architects and Professional Engineers Ontario have prepared a joint bulletin on professional design that provides their synopsis of the requirements of the two professional acts.  It indicates OAA and PEO’s position on when a building must be designed by a professional engineer, architect, or both, and is available at: http://www.peo.on.ca/index.php?ci_id=26075&la_id=1
OAA has also addressed the issue of professional design in two recent editions of the OBOA Journal, including most recently in Issue 100 (December 2013).

The 2012 Building Code does contain expanded general review requirements, including a table that allocates responsibility for general review between architects and professional engineers, in Subsection 1.2.2.of Division C.
2. Are professional designers still exempt from qualification requirements for designers?

Yes.
Qualification requirements for designers set out in under the Building Code refer to “persons engaged in providing design activities to the public”.  “Design activities” is a defined term in the Building Code Act, 1992.  

There is no specific exemption in the Building Code Act, 1992 or Building Code for professional engineers and architects.  However, the 2007 Divisional Court decision declared that the qualification and registration requirements for designers in the Building Code Act, 1992 and Building Code do not apply to any holder of any license or certificate issued under the Professional Engineers Act.  The Court stated that the analysis in the reasons for judgment "applies equally to the intervenor architects". 

As a result, the requirement for “all persons engaged in providing design activities” to be qualified does not apply to professional engineers and architects.  Further information on this issue is available at www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page8597.aspx.

The standard provincial permit application form under “Schedule 1 - Designer Information” notes that professional engineers and architects are not required to complete this schedule.

3. What is the meaning of the term 'suitably qualified and experienced person' specified in the 2012 Building Code?

The 2007 decision of the Divisional Court of Ontario that found that the Building Code Act, 1992 did not provide sufficient authority to allocate responsibility for the design of buildings between members of the professional engineering and architectural professions in the Building Code.   As a result, the professional design provisions in Section 1.2. of Division C of the 2006 Building Code could not be maintained in the 2012 Building Code.  In order to help ensure that certain design work continues to be carried out by individuals with appropriate qualifications and expertise, Section 1.2. now requires that certain design work be carried out by a “suitably qualified and experienced person”. 
Suitable qualifications and experience will depend on the building permit application under review and the type of work proposed.  When reviewing building permit applications, building officials are encouraged to consider a number of factors, including qualification requirements in the Architects Act and the Professional Engineers Act.   For information on the scope of practice of professional engineers and architects, contact Professional Engineers Ontario and the Ontario Association of Architects, respectively.  They may be able to provide advice on when an architect or engineer is required under the Architects Act or Professional Engineers Act and whether there are any exemptions from the professional design requirements in those statutes.

In addition, Sentences 1.2.2.1.(4) to (9) of Division C provide that buildings or building systems required to be designed by a “suitably qualified and experienced person” under Subsection 1.2.1. must be reviewed by a professional engineer, architect or both.  

4. Is there still an exemption from professional design in the 2012 Building Code for interior design work (i.e., designs for interior spaces that do not affect exits, fire separations, and occupant loads)?

Architects and professional engineers are both self-regulating professions and are regulated under the Architects Act and the Professional Engineers Act respectively.  These Acts define the scope of practice for architects and professional engineers undertaking design of buildings, including requirements for professional design of buildings and allocation of responsibility for professional design between these two professions.  

Provisions of the Architects Act dealing with interior design continue to apply.

The Ontario Association of Architects and Professional Engineers Ontario have prepared a joint bulletin on professional design that provides their synopsis of the requirements of the two professional acts.  It indicates OAA and PEO’s position on when a building must be designed by a professional engineer, architect, or both, and when the requirement for an architect does not apply (e.g., certain designs of interior space).  

The Association has heard the concerns of changes to professional design, highlighted most recently in the 2012 OBC, as requirements were removed. The Association continues to communicate with the MMAH, OAA and PEO on the importance of the former chart for access and enforcement reference. Through ongoing discussions with these groups, it is our understanding there is agreement to amend the OBC to re-introduce professional design. This Association supports this initiative and amendment, and we also understand that to the code amendment has its own approval process in terms of timing. This notice is intended to provide members with an update as an interim measure, and to advise of pending changes on an important subject to building officials.

Best Regards,

200 Marycroft Avenue, Unit 8, Woodbridge, ON L4L 5X4
Tel: (905) 264-1662, Fax: (905) 264-8696, Website: www.oboa.on.ca, E-mail: info@ oboa.on.ca