Sunday, June 2, 2013

Is there a size limit to my custom home if my lot is small?


I want to build a new custom home but the lot I own is rather small, is there a limit to the size of the house I can build on it?


There is definitely a limit to the size of the home that you can build on your lot. When a township is reviewing your building permit application there are several calculations and measurements that they will do from your submitted plans, this is to make sure that you conform to their rules and regulations.

Here are a couple of things that your local building department will look for:

House setbacks from your property line. Every township has setbacks in their building codes. A setback is the distance from the edge of your proposed home to the property line. Every region is different but a good rule of thumb is about 4 to 5 ft. If your lot is of an odd shape then you can end up with a problem of having a house that doesn’t fit on the lot. With odd shaped lots you can apply for a variance on the side that could end up too close to the property line. As long as that’s the only side of the house that is infringing you have a good chance at being approved.

Percentage of lot coverage. When you build a house you are only allowed to cover a certain percentage of the lot. Every municipality has different restrictions on what that percentage is.

You have a height limit for residential single family homes in most areas. So if you are planning to build a three story house you might be out of luck. A lot of municipalities do not allow more than two stories when it comes to a single family home.

If you are not on sewers then you need to leave a large enough area to install your septic system. On a small lot you might have to install a more expensive septic system that takes up less room so that your house will fit on the property.

If you want a larger home then you might want to forget about having any kind of garage. Or at the least keeping it to a single car. Garages are considered when they look at the amount of lot you are allowed to cover.

There are other considerations you should be aware of:

There are neighbourhoods and communities that have restrictions on the look and size of homes in an area or street. Some local by-laws can restrict size and style as well.

Some lots have restrictions because of wetlands, high water tables, hazardous areas or protected natural landmarks.

When you apply for your building permit, if you are asking for any special rulings like a variance your neighbours in the immediate area will be notified and will be given the chance to have their opinion heard.

The simplest thing for you to do is walk into the local municipal building and planning department and ask them what the restrictions and regulations are for the property that you want to build on.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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