A little background information
During the summer, on July 3, 2018, to be precise, the Quebec government adopted decree 990-2018. This decree, which came into force on September 1, 2018, is the Regulation to amend the Construction Code and Chapter 1 (Building) in particular. The purpose of this act is to add new regulatory requirements regarding accessibility for persons with reduced mobility to the interior of dwelling units of residential occupancy.
The new requirements apply only to new buildings of 2 or more storeys that contain 8 or more units or to the expansion of these kinds of buildings. The requirements do not apply to minor or major works undertaken on existing floor areas or works to change the occupancy of an existing building to residential occupancy. Furthermore, the new requirements will apply only to dwelling units of residential occupancy (usage C).
The additions and modifications pertain, for the most part, to the subsection of section 3.8. of NBC 2010 am. Quebec that deals with obstacle-free building. These requirements outline provisions that will allow increased accessibility to the interior of new dwellings from the outset.
Requirements to keep in mind during your projects
Architects and developers should have a discussion about the start date of every project. Even though decree 990-2018 has already modified NBC 2010 am. Quebec as of September 1, 2018, the new provisions are subject to a transition period before they can be applied. As a result, before September 1, 2020, projects may either conform to the new provisions or follow the “old” requirements.
Therefore, when an architect signs a contract with a client, they should validate whether the client wishes to respect only decree 347-2015 which brought NBC 2010 am. Quebec into effect on June 15, 2015, or decree 347-2015 and the new decree 900-2018.
If both decrees are used in the preparation of plans and quotations, the client must also choose between minimum accessibility (subsection 3.8.4. – NBC 2010 am. Quebec) and adaptability (subsection 3.8.5. – NBC 2010 am. Quebec). There is no requirement when it comes to a percentage of either of the 2 types of layout. Only changes in the real estate sales or rental markets would cause a developer to require that a certain number of dwellings offer adaptability.
Minimally accessible dwelling
A minimally accessible dwelling (subsection 3.8.4. – NBC 2010 am. Quebec) is a dwelling unit whose design integrates amenities and elements in certain parts of the dwelling unit that make it possible for a person with one or more mobility impairments to move about and use the installations. The aim is to allow “visitability.”
The barrier-free path of travel in the dwelling unit should extend from the door at the entrance to the dwelling unit to the inside of each of the following spaces:
- living room;
- dining room.
An adaptable dwelling unit (subsection 3.8.5) is a dwelling unit whose design is such that it may be easily adapted to the specific needs of a person residing in the dwelling unit who has one or more mobility impairments.
The barrier-free path of travel should extend from the door at the entrance to the dwelling unit to the inside of each of the following spaces:
- living room;
- dining room;
- at least one bedroom;
- balcony, where provided.
This configuration of the spaces would allow a person living in the dwelling to quickly complete works to adapt their dwelling in the event of a loss of mobility.
In both types of dwellings, there must be required installations such as wood nailing elements in the walls of a washroom or a bathroom so that grab bars can be installed around the bathtub or shower. Once this type of installation is in place, there would be no need to open walls that may be fire separations.
Furthermore, in an adaptable dwelling unit, an appropriate plumbing installation is required and it must be possible to adjust the height of this installation and the floor surface in order to provide access to a person in a wheelchair.
By Nicole Olivier, arch.