Thursday, 14 June 2012

What to Know about the Zoning Review of Your Building Permit

City of Toronto: Building Division Customer Service, screenshot
Screenshot: City of Toronto: Building Division
Customer Service; Building Permits & Approvals
Building Plan Review; Building Inspections

Just some thoughts to share in case you have decided to improve your life and to remodel or renovate your home. What changes require Committee approval?

I am sitting again at one of the building departments of the City of Toronto waiting for my name to be called to submit drawings for permit. Luckily we did not have to go for a Committee of Adjustment decision for this one as it is an interior renovation, but in all of our previous larger buildings we had to follow this step too.

A Committee of Adjustment decision is required if some of the by-laws are infringed by the new design. By-laws are there to make sure that the proposed building does fit into the neighbourhood and does not infringe on the rights of the neighbours. They govern such issues as parking, garage requirements, landscaping, distance to your neighbours, lot/sq ft ratios, height of building etc.

For example if the existing building is located too close to the neighbour’s building the existing walls are grandfathered in. However, any addition on to of the walls will infringe the by-law.

Another example is if an existing previous extension was not done with permits after a certain date and the design calls for changes it may be necessary to legalize the previous work first.

Your designer will have a good idea if an application to the committee will be required or you can ask the zoning department for the list of by-laws governing your property. In addition you can ask for copies of by-laws if you are interested.

However, there are so many by-laws that affect your property and any changes that it is advisable to go for a zoning review before going for permit to ensure that one is not missed.

If by-laws are infringed two actions can be taken.
  • Either, the design is amended to such an extent that it adheres to the by-laws or an application is made for variance.
  • If time is a factor, it might be better to change the design; however, the compromises required might not be acceptable and therefore an application to the Committee might be better.
As a design and construction company we can help you through the process to make it as efficient as possible.

Martina Ernst
Wo-Built Inc. - Innovative Design and Build
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 1: Know Your Zoning and By-laws
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 2: Design Time
Wo-Built Inc.: Renovation Design Tips: Tip 3: Professionals Involved in the Design

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