Gilbert + Burke Blog

Custom Home Construction and Remodelling Tips

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In our experience, homeowners are often concerned that their “vision” will be met with obstacles and grievances due to the constraints of building codes and permits. It’s not uncommon for the original design for new builds or renovations to be at odds with legislation. However, most of the frustration or confusion surrounding codes and permits can be solved with a better understanding of the regulations. It’s best to look at the legislation for its primary intent: providing the minimum standards and guidelines acceptable to maintain the safety of buildings, and the people in them.

So, codes are not a textbook for design, but they will affect plans in early stages. You can get what you want within reason, but it might take some work. Working with professionals who know the granular complexities of building  and municipality codes is critical, particularly if your investment (or project scope) is substantial. You may have to provide extra budget and timeline buffer for consultants, environmental studies, legal fees, even municipal zoning changes. A design-builder will be sure to check with the municipality on a few major concerns in the early stages, such as:

  • Setback distances (from water or neighbour property lines)

  • Property use (i.e. is it environmentally protected, or are there protected species living on or around the property?)

  • Easement restrictions

  • Building height restrictions

  • Approvals from conservation authorities

Permits need to be in your hand before any construction begins - put that task at the very top of your list! Building permits are assessed against the building code of the province, as well as any local bylaws or restrictions. For example, commercial vs residential zoning, community environmental laws, etc could prevent you from acquiring a permit. But, once you have your permit, you have formal permission to begin the construction, demolition, addition or renovation on your property.

It’s a wise decision to work with a design and build partner that knows the building code like the back of their hand. They can also obtain permits on your behalf and deal with any regional bylaws or issues with the permit officers.

Before breaking ground on a new home build or major renovation, put in your application to acquire a building permit and confirm that your plans abide by building codes in your area. Talk to an experienced professional, and they will help you navigate the acquisition process.

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