Guide to the Building Permit Process in the GTA

Guide to the Building Permit Process in the GTA

Planning Your Project:

Project planning is important, determining requirements and resources, including whether your project needs a building permit or not. If it is required, then understanding which zoning requirements and applicable zoning bylaw applies to your property is paramount. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) perspective, a building permit application has three major phases:

1. Preliminary Zoning Review

2. Building Code Review

3. Building Inspection

As we have experienced, from the date of permit application to building permit issuance it takes an average of 4 weeks and sometime up to 12 weeks, depending on the workload of the local authorities’ departments involved. To ensure the permit application goes smoothly and minimize lost time in responding to any comments from the respective departments, being ready and prepared has to be prioritized.

Research Your Zoning By-Law

Zoning by-law information of properties can be acquired through zoning searches from all GTA city/municipalities website. Once a zoning search is submitted it will take you to the zoning by-law information pages or document. Most GTA zoning by-law documents will include Land use, Building use, Structure size, Height, Location and more. The specific local jurisdiction’s Zoning By-Laws will have information on building, lot coverages and setbacks. Zoning documents also has information on all allowed uses for a certain address in the GTA.

Preliminary Design Phase

After you sign with us, an on-site visit to measure and document of the existing building (for a renovation/addition project) will be scheduled. Next we will meet to discuss your wish list/s for your project. Once the wish list is finalized, the preliminary design process will commence. The 1st design draft will be about 2 weeks time after the contract signing. The first draft that we will send you has a Site Plan, (Existing and)Proposed Elevations, (Existing and) Proposed Floor Plans and Sections. The preliminary design will be created to comply to all zoning requirements unless upon client’s direction to do otherwise, where a minor variance application will be considered.

Design Development Phase

This is the part where design revisions  will be made according to clients comments. There will be a back and forth  for this process, until the time all parties are satisfied with the designs. High level budget options can be looked at by a contractors, as needed. We can do that with an in-house consultant or one contractor can be client recommended wherein coordination between us and that recommended contractor will occur. At this point the drawings will be coordinated with our Structural and HVAC consultants, for them to start their work on the project.

Preparation of Building Permit Drawing

Upon final design approval and confirmation, the building permit drawings set will start to be finalized. There will be consultants involved (as needed case-by-case) in this process:

1. Lot Grading Consultant 2. Arborist Consultant 3. Structural Engineer 4. HVAC Engineer

Consultant drawings will be cross checked and we will look for coherence and consistency. This is a important  since improperly coordinated drawings between all consultants will provide confusion and serious delay during construction.

Building Permit Application

After coordination of all the consultants, a set for submission will be produced which will be submitted to the building permit department. After initial submission and according to the building code, there are time limits that the Building department has to complete it first review.

Specifically for Toronto, you can download a very informative building permit guide here:

Toronto Building Permit Guide

A building permit takes, 5 to 20 days depending on its class & size determination.

Provided the submitted drawings set meets zoning requirements & provide all the necessary information:

  • 5 days – Residential fast track, maximum 100 m2 (1076 sq..ft.) Additions, interior alterations to 1 or 2 Family Dwellings.
  • 10 days – Single Family Residential Dwelling.
  • 15 days – Part 9 Buildings, Multi Family Residential, Commercial & Industrial less than 600 m2 & not over 3 stories.
  • 20 days – Part 3 Buildings, Residential, Commercial & Industrial over 600 m2 & more than 3 stories.

When the permit drawings has been submitted and the application accepted, one has to wait until the ‘timeline to comment’ date has elapsed, which varies according to the application type. This is the time to follow up with the concerned department up to the issuance of comments or permit approvals. Comments once received will be prioritized and be responsed to the earliest. It is usual for this process to cycle back and forth until the permit is issued.

Upon permit approvals, construction can go full steam ahead on your project!

Second Suites: Is it for You?

Second Suites: Is it for You?

Second or ‘Secondary’ Suites are self-contained residential units which are generally allowed in single detached, semi-detached and townhouses. They are also allowed in ancillary structures (i.e. Garage, laneway house or garden suite).  Many clients add a secondary suite to their basement or above a detached garage (laneway project) to create additional revenue.

Are you thinking of building a Second Suite on your property? Landlord’s Self-Help Centre, a non-profit specialty community legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario and mandated to provide support exclusively to Ontario’s small landlord community has created this very informative document: Creating a Second Suite Guide

Additionally, to tackle the ‘housing supply’ crisis that is currently plaguing the GTA, the city of Toronto is making concrete steps to advocate loosened rules around secondary suites as this CBC News article explains: Loosened Rules Proposed for Secondary Suites

However, most existing properties will require modifications to incorporate the requirements of a secondary suite. We are here for you in developing a new or legalizing an existing secondary suite, including a ‘laneway suites project’.

What are Laneway Suites?

A laneway suite is a self-contained residential unit located on the same lot as a detached house, semi-detached house or townhouse, and generally located in the rear yard next to a laneway.

Laneway suites are generally smaller in scale and completely detached from the main house on the lot.

Laneway suites may provide new rental housing opportunities within established neighbourhoods, providing a wider range of low-density housing options while enhancing neighbourhood and community character. The City of Toronto has instituted the ‘Changing Lanes Program’, specifically designed to encourage and regulate this housing supply option for its residents. Find out more information about this program here:  City of Toronto Changing Lanes Program

Thinking Energy Efficiency in Homes

Thinking Energy Efficiency in Homes

What is an energy efficient home?

Energy efficient homes reduce unnecessary energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and demands for nonrenewable resources. They simultaneously provide healthier living conditions and offer homeowners significant money savings over conventional homes

 What are the key features of an energy efficient house?

While design costs, options, and styles vary, most energyefficient homes have some basic elements in common: a well- constructed and tightly sealed thermal envelope; controlled ventilation; properly sized, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems; and energyefficient doors, windows, and appliances.

What is an Energy Audit and Do I need one?

An energy audit is an assessment of your home that takes a look at current energy consumption and then identifies energy efficiency measures that you can conduct to make your home more efficient. An energy auditor can assess where your home is losing the most energy, and then proposes improvements to make to help save energy – and reduce your utility bills.

The recommendations that your energy auditor makes for your home depends on the scope of the audit. Some lightweight suggestions may be switching to more efficient lighting, sealing air leaks from doors or adding weather stripping. Some larger suggestions might include more insulation, or replacing windows that are causing drafts in your home.

How do I arrange an Energy Audit? Is it expensive?

It’s pretty easy to do, you just call up the service organisation (you can find your local organisation listed on Green Communities Canada) and say “I need an energy assessment,” then you make an appointment with them.  It varies a bit by company, but they’re usually around $400.

However, there are several incentive programs available in Ontario to help you, depending on where you live.  For areas serviced by Enbridge Gas then there’s the Enbridge Home Energy Conservation Program, for areas that are serviced by Union Gas, there’s the Home Renovation Rebate, and then there’s GreenOn funded by the province.