Building a New Home – Zoning

The very first step to take before building your new home – and even before getting the permit – is to find out what your land is zoned for. If you haven’t made your purchase yet, it would be a great idea to check that first, before buying, to determine whether the home you envision can be built.

Floor Area and Landscaping

It’s easy to find out about zoning – each lot has a letter and a number that indicates what can be built (just go to the city to ask for this information). You will be told the overall gross floor area that can be put on the lot, which excludes a two-car garage. If you need a space for another vehicle, it will have to be included in the inside square footage. You will also be informed about the amount of green space you must have; this can vary between 30 and 60%, depending on the zoning.

Another piece of information is the setbacks – the distance between your future home, and the house on the right and on the left, as well as how close to the front and away from the back of the lot your home must be placed.

Height Calculation

It is also essential to find out if you can get the desired square footage based on the maximum height allowed by the zoning. Since peaked roofs are highly recommended due to weather conditions, it’s important to keep in mind that the total height of the house is measured from the tip of the peaked roof to the finished grade (ground). This can have a direct impact on the total square footage you can get.

Nature – Can’t Live without it, Can’t Build with it!

Finally, there are a few more considerations that have to do with geography and nature. If there is a ravine on your property, it can take anywhere from six months to a year for the city to approve construction. If your property happens to be on a floodplain, you will not be allowed to have a deep basement – if any at all!

If you have any broadleaf trees of more than 30 centimeters in diameter that are in the way, you must get permission to cut them down. Removing such trees might entail having to plant several more, in compensation, as well as having to deposit some money for tree removal. You will receive the sum back, after construction, so it will not be part of your construction budget anymore.

Ready for the Second Step?

Once zoning matters are all sorted out, you are ready to consider financing. Read more about it in our next blog.

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