For those who have renovated or built a house you know the feeling of excitement and slight anxiety when handing over your carefully drawn up plans to the city to be red inked and hopefully approved.  This week we finally got our building permit submitted for the Roderick house…but it wasn’t without a few moments of ‘Ugh…c’mon…work with me people!’.


We picked up the drawings from the engineer and promptly had a look at them.  The print and line quality was not what I usual see with my drawings so I was a little disappointed there.  Its not the end of the world for the quality of the printing to be substandard but as someone who takes pride in her work I was a little miffed…I even contemplated getting them reprinted for just a minute until my better senses kicked and reminded me that was 1. a waste of paper and trees, 2. a waste of money, and 3. a waste of time all in the name of creative vanity.  Ok…I moved on.



After picking up the drawings and inspecting them on the tailgate of my Smart Car I headed straight for the city planning desk to submit them for review.  While I was going over things with the receiving agent (who also happened to be a plans examiner) she pointed out an issue…ugh.

The city has decided not to excersie their right (by building code) to make judgement calls when it comes to ‘safe exiting and protected egress’ for secondary suites and old buildings.  What this means for our renovation…well we will need to either:

  1. change the windows near the basement exit to a fire rated window – this means the kind with wire mesh that you can see in a fixed frame without any option to open it.  This would be the kitchen window…with wire mesh throughout…uh…I don’t think this is the right solution
  2. build walls around the basement exit to provide a protected exit with shielding from the kitchen window.  This would mean approximately a 7ft wall between the basement door and upper kitchen window.  This would be a challenge to make look ‘natural’ to the house.  Sigh…although this sounds terrible this is probably the best option.
  3. create a second exit/entry to the basement…like a second door on the front or side of the house.  Hmmmm….way more expensive but perhaps something to explore.

So after learning of this problertunity I took my plans back home and sat down at my computer to ponder my options.



Option 1 is probably what I will submit with the plans in order to get them in and not have to delay any more however I will do so with the intent to submit a revision later to the city with the real plan.  We will also explore the option of having a fire rated window that does not contain wire mesh, perhaps something that meets the commercial fire rating standards?

Wired Glass...not ideal

Wired Glass…not ideal

Option 2 is pretty straight forward although not ideal from an aesthetic point of view.  The wall would need to project high enough and far enough into the yard to give a human safe passage from the house.



Back door wall concept. Also not ideal

Option 3 is certainly the most extreme but offers the opportunity to utilize a second entry for other purposes as well.  After exploring what it would look like to add a stairwell to the front of the house we have decided that it isn’t out of the question from a design standpoint…but might be from a financial perspective.




After pondering the options for a night I decided to submit for permit with the wired glass notations and continue my research into an alternative solution while the permit is being reviewed.  This allows everything to move forward so I am not pressured to come up with a solution immediately as this one I want to get right.  So…permit submitted…FINALLY!