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What are Occupancy Types and How do they Affect you?


Under the Ontario Building Code (OBC) building types are separated by was is called “Occupancy Type”. The occupancies are separated into 6 main types. The purpose of these occupancies are to define the requirements of your building/unit (I will go into this in detail later) under the OBC. .




What are the Occupancy Types?


The occupancy types are as follows Group A (A1, A2,A3), Group B (B1 & B2), Group C, Group D, Group E, Group F (F1, F2, F3).


What do they Mean?

Group A’s are places where people assemble. For example theaters, stadiums, restaurants over 30 people, schools. Think of a large group of people in one space-eating, drinking, and gathering.

Group B’s are place where people are being detained/ need help getting out in an emergency. This would include things like hospitals, jails, care homes (where people are locked in their rooms’ or are not able to physically get out of a buildings).

Group C is residential. This is houses, apartment buildings and hotels. Basically If you sleep their (and don’t need constant care) it is a Group C.

Group D is business and personal care. This is any business and service based industry that does not involve selling goods as the primary business. So lawyers, hair dressers, dog grooming, nail salon, office spaces and many more.

Group E is retail. This is any place selling physical goods like clothes or food (and pretty much anything else you can sell). It also includes restaurants under 30 people. Like coffee bars or a pizza shop.

Group F is industrial. Think warehouses, storages, manufacturing, explosives, large print shops and many more.


Why is this Important?

Well each occupancy has an amount of people, washrooms, fire rating, exits and many more requirements. Something that was designed as a Group D may not pass as a Group E without some possible upgrades to the building or unit. This is important because as you look for a space knowing the current use can help you see if you are going to have to change the use of the building/unit. If you do-are you prepared for this? For example if was a retail and now you want to do a 75 seat restaurant. Well an E typically has a higher fire rating –so you may be good there. But you will have to add washrooms. The requirements for washrooms in a retail are less than a restaurant. This is just one example.


But the Building is Old!

When a building/ unit is over 5 years old there are many things you do not have to do –if it was a new buildings. You can reduce the fire ratings, you do not have to update washrooms if you do not touch the washroom (or change how many people you are having in the space and several other conditions which I won’t bore you with at this time). There is a part of the building code that tells you what code references you must follow if you change the use (Part 10 and Part 11 for my savvy researches) everything is acceptable as existing.


Final Thoughts

This can be at times complex and understanding what changes need to be made can make the difference in your decision. We may not be able to give you every detail on the fly but we can definitely give you an overview of what will be possibly be needed. Lease or purchase from an informed standpoint not a oh no one. Call us :)

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