Before starting a renovation, there are a few things to consider. Many clients come to us with the notion of wanting to renovate but they don’t fully grasp all aspects of a renovation.

The first step to any project is acquiring a survey. Depending on the scope of work, you will require one of two surveys: topographic or boundary. A boundary survey is a site plan that identifies the property lines and structures (ie. house, garage, deck etc.) within your property. This survey is acceptable for an interior renovation.

If you’re interested in building new, addition or infill, you’ll need to acquire a topographic survey to aid in the design phase and for City applications. The topographic survey is a more detailed version of the boundary, with all nearby tree trunks dimensioned and grade values noted. This type of survey is required for the designer and planners to determine the zoning requirements for the proposed new addition. How tall are the new walls? Are there trees nearby? If so, will the roots be affected by the construction? A new build renovation incorporates more time and focus during the design phase due to City requirements.

Many clients would like to add square footage to their homes but aren’t aware of the limitations their property may have. The City of Toronto has many by laws to comply with and not all are negotiable.  Commonly, we apply for Committee of Adjustment (CofA) to gain approval for zoning variances on side yard setbacks, lot coverage etc., however when Urban Forestry/TRCA is involved the application process changes. The City will require more reports and drawings from your consultant to determine whether the proposed design will be approved. Some reports may include geotechnical soil reports, structural engineering, arborist reports and grading plans. As every project is different, the City Planner will let you know what documents are required at submission.

It’s not always easy to anticipate the lead time for permit issuance as the timeline is dependent on the City’s availability; not your designer’s. When applying to various departments, you are not only relying on the designer to get your drawings complete, but you need to consult third parties to add to your application. In some cases, your designer needs to work with other parties and get confirmation of items onsite as per City requests. In addition to acquiring appropriate documentations, the City Planners have their own schedule to follow, therefore your project is in a queue. There is no guarantee of when an examiner can review and accept your application. Scope dependent, this phase of design can take 6-12 months to acquire all City approvals.

Stephanie Haddad