It’s time to repair the delays in getting home renovation permits and approvals | The Star

By Dave WilkesBILD President & CEO
Sat., April 28, 2018

Your family is growing and you need more space. You have two options: (1) You can sell your house and move into a bigger home; or (2) you can renovate your home and add more living space. You love your neighbourhood and do not want to move, so you decide to renovate.

Before you focus on the latest trends and finishes, first invest in getting the necessary approvals and permits. Within the GTA, that can take months for a smaller renovation and much longer for more ambitious projects.

Many homeowners are under the mistaken impression that it is as simple as filing your plans and obtaining your permit — a week or two and on to swinging hammers. The reality can be quite different. When planning a major renovation or custom home build, the approval and permitting times may include multiple steps of getting approvals for variances to existing zoning requirements, setback regulations and obtaining approvals from other municipal departments such as urban forestry. If re-zoning through the city’s Committee of Adjustment is required, the entire process can take well up to a year.

Layered onto this, many municipalities are failing to meet the Ontario Building Code’s timeframes of issuing a building permit within 10 business days, and that results in delaying renovation projects and adding unnecessary costs to projects. In 2017, nearly half of all residential building permits in the city of Toronto were not issued within the required, legislated timeframe.

The Building Industry and Land Development Association reviewed 6,011 City of Toronto building permits, and the average timeframe for issuing these permits was 31.4 calendar days. That is two to 2-1/2 times the provincially mandated maximum. It is important to note that this review included thousands of applications from very basic and quick permits, to permits with values of over $100,000 — the issuing of these permits took an average of 45 days or six weeks.

Further delays in the process come from inspection delays that can tangle home owners up in even more red tape.

And, with all of these delays, your dream renovation has now become a bureaucratic nightmare.

Based on our members’ experiences, we wrote a Service Standard of Excellence document to provide practical guidance to municipalities on how to speed up approvals and make the process more efficient.

We are asking cities to commit to a reasonable turnaround time for renovation permit applications; we propose the implementation of a one-window, web-based permitting portal that makes the application process smoother and transparent; and we’re calling for improved service by building inspectors.

As we approach the 2018 municipal elections on October 22, we are asking councillors and mayors across the GTA to adopt the measures outlined in the Service Standards of Excellence, and see that approvals and permits are issued according to the province’s mandate.

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Date Posted: 28 Apr, 2018
Written By: Dave Wilkes

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