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What is a "Farm Building"?

A farm building is a building that does not contain a residential occupancy and that is associated

with and located on land devoted to the practice of farming, and is used essentially for the housing of equipment or livestock, or the production, storage or processing of agricultural and horticultural produce or feeds [National Building Code of Canada 2015].

Ok, but from a construction perspective what is a farm building and what does this all mean?

The National Farm Building Code (NFBC) is in place to allow for reduced regulations for low human occupancy farm buildings. For example, a barn intended to house livestock or farm machinery may have a low direct or indirect hazard to human life in the event of failure: the building is less likely to have people in it on a regular basis, and therefore it is less likely that a person may be in or near the building if the building were to fail.

Based on this reasoning, the NFBC allows for reduced design loads for low human occupancy buildings. It also allows for reduced regulations for fire protection and it does not require conformance with the National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB). This allows for cost savings in construction.

However, only those farm buildings which are also classified as low human occupancy may qualify for a reduction in regulations regarding structural design and building code.

For example, a riding arena for a family’s personal use would be considered low human occupancy. However, if that arena were to include bleachers or a viewing area for lessons or public events, then that would not constitute low human occupancy. Similarly, a shop used to store or repair a farm’s machinery would be considered a low human occupancy farm building. However, a shop used to offer machinery repair services to the public would not be considered low human occupancy or a farm building!

The NFBC doesn’t just address reductions in regulations, though. It also provides design loads for floors and other structures supporting different types of livestock and different livestock arrangements. For example, a cow traffic alley must be designed for a heavier load than a milking room, and chicken houses without cages have different loading than multiple levels of cage equipment.

What is the take-away? Due to a reduced risk to human life in the event of failure, some farm buildings are allowed to be constructed to a lesser standard than more frequently occupied buildings. This is a potential cost savings t

hat farmers should be aware of, if their proposed use meets the requirements of the NFBC. However, just because you "can" reduce costs doesn't mean you have to.

Do you have questions about farm buildings? Drop us a line or give us a call!


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