Every Condo Board’s Guide to Ontario’s Complicated Building Permit Process

Condo Building Permit

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Your condo board has a tough enough learning curve without trying to understand the complicated building permit process. To help make things easier, we’ve broken down the most critical building restoration administrative steps so you can cruise through the process from application to approval. 

Identify Your Zoning

Your condo’s building zoning is crucial as it dictates what regulations and laws you have to follow. You can use Toronto’s Interactive Zoning Bylaw Map to find your condo’s zoning to ensure you understand the laws that might impact your restoration plans. 

Estimates and Review

The City of Toronto requires you to submit drawings for review to approve your permits and pay associated fees. You can hire an architect, designer, or contractor to provide estimates. From there, you can choose a contractor through the tendering process to develop and submit your restoration plan with your application for review by the City. They will determine whether your plans comply with the appropriate zoning by-laws. Once you receive a zoning certificate, you can submit drawings and the City will flag what they call “variances” that don’t comply with bylaws. To avoid flags, ensure your plans either meet code requirements or are better than the code.

Drawing Submissions

When you submit your architect/designer’s drawings to obtain your building permit, your designer will also apply the building code information so the City can review everything. However, depending on the nature of the restoration, you might find things go more smoothly if a structural engineer also reviews the design to determine if you need additional Ontario Building Code permits.

Flagging Variances

As mentioned, it is not uncommon for applications to be flagged for non-compliance. In this case, you’ll need to correct the errors or apply to the Committee of Adjustment for approval if the flagged variances were not made in error but instead are part of the design. Be warned: You can expect to wait two to six more months in the approval process if you request Committee approval. If the Committee rejects your variance adjustment request, you can appeal to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB). Once approved, your permits are processed.

Work with a Contractor 

Having a restoration contractor working on your behalf can save time. Code officials know the code inside and out which presents a challenge for less experienced individuals. Your contractor has an equal understanding of the process and can more easily work alongside the code officials to find resolutions. They keep up to date on changes to building code, which is impacted by changing construction, design, and materials. Your contractor will find discrepancies before submitting your application and explain why your requests are refused. Should the officials put up roadblocks, contractors understand the reasons and either find solutions to avoid them or can at least explain why you’re experiencing difficulties. 

Since code officials impact everything from timeframes to issuing inspection orders, having someone in your corner to navigate everyday challenges will keep your building restoration on track. You’ll also avoid costly adjustments and fines. 

Hiring a contractor or working with an experienced property management company will help ease the confusion and stress of Ontario building codes. The condo experts at CPO Management Inc, a full-service property management company in Toronto and the GTA, have had tremendous success helping condo corporations tackle restoration plans. Reach out to us today to learn how we can implement cost-saving modifications and strategies for your corporation.


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