A deeper look at Committee of Adjustments

If you are considering building in Toronto it is best to get yourself familiar with what the Committee of Adjustments is and exactly how it could affect your building process. 

To start from the beginning it is important to understand what zoning bylaws are. These are rules that are established by your municipality to control and regulate the land use within its jurisdiction. They dictate how properties can be used, the types of buildings that can be built and the required setbacks from property lines. They also control the maximum height of the buildings as well as other regulations that shape the physical development of an area. However as each area grows and develops it may be difficult or impractical to meet all these requirements. This is where the Committee of Adjustments comes in. 

Commonly known as the Board of Zoning Appeals or Variance Board, they are a regulatory body that exists in many municipalities to review and make decisions on minor variances or exceptions to the local regulations. 

So how do they affect you and your building process? 

Depending on the area you are building they may have older regulations that may limit the design of your home. In most cases in areas such as Toronto you may be required to apply for a minor variance. There's many ways that your home may deviate from the zoning requirements such as setback distance, building height limits or lot coverage. This is where you will have to appeal to the Committee of Adjustments. They will review your application and make a decision based on the impact on the neighboring properties and the general character of the area. There may be a variation of outcomes. If all goes well and you are granted the variance you may proceed with your plans. You may also be granted a conditional variance in which case you may need to modify your design without a drastic change. Or be denied your variance altogether in which case you may need to drastically modify your design to comply with the zoning bylaws. The impact of your neighbors will be taken into account when applying for a variance so it is good to try and discuss your project with your neighbors ahead of time. In the long run it can save you precious time in your building process. Do you research and see what other similar properties have been built in the neighborhood. Have your builder represent you. They will have the knowledge and experience required to successfully have your variance passed. The key to being successful is being prepared and ready for some compromises, this will ensure you don't walk away disappointed. 

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