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How to Get a Building Permit

If you are planning a home renovation or building project, you will most likely need a Building Permit. The City of Toronto and other municipalities have processes that you will need to follow in order to acquire a permit to begin work.

There are a few key milestones in this process that are important to understand:

The Preliminary Project Review

The City will compare your drawings to the zoning by-laws to determine whether your project meets criteria. The result of this review is a report indicating your variances (or lack thereof). If you have no variances, you may be granted your Zoning Certificate right away, and can move on to apply for a Building Permit very quickly.

A Zoning Certificate

This is required to obtain a building permit. If the Preliminary Project Review determines that you have variances, a Public Hearing will be scheduled. Notices of this hearing will be distributed to all property owners in the direct vicinity of your property.

The Committee of Adjustments

This a panel of individuals, whose responsibility is to hear the cases of minor variances. They review the plans and hear from any parties supporting or opposing the project. If you need to go to the Committee of Adjustments for a minor variance review, expect it to take 2-4 months, and sometimes more.

Once a decision is made at the hearing, interested parties will have 20 days to file an appeal. If no appeal is filed, the decision is binding and notices will be sent out to that effect. You will be eligible for a Zoning Certificate once you have the notice of binding decision.

If an appeal is filed, or if you were denied at the Committee of Adjustments (and wish to still pursue the existing plan), the Ontario Municipal Board will then hear the case. If this happens, expect an additional 3-12 month delay. You will need to retain a lawyer to assist in your hearing and this process can be extremely costly. If at all possible, try to negotiate with your neighbour to find a compromise, or adjust your plans.

If you are planning a project and suspect you will have some variances from the by-law, it is very important to communicate with your neighbours beforehand. Attempt to uncover any objections they may have, and try to resolve before this process begins.

Hiring a knowledgeable architect who is familiar with the zoning by-laws can help greatly in reducing the number of minor variances in your proposal. Search for reviews at EiEiHome, to find the best service pros for your project. Be sure to calculate Building Permit costs into your renovation budget. Check with your local municipality for specific costs.

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By Shelley Kanitz

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