Navigating Building Codes and Regulations During Restoration  

The Building Code Act, 1992 (BCA) includes building restoration technical and administrative requirements. Here we share our insider information to help you navigate building codes, permits, and approvals during the complicated pre-construction process.  

Obtaining Permits and Approvals

Obtaining permits and approval for your building restoration project generally includes the following steps:

  1. Zoning: The Toronto Interactive Zoning Bylaw Map shows your building’s zoning so you can explore regulations most likely to impact your plans.
  2. Estimates: Architects/designers develop drawings required for review by the City of Toronto when approving your permit and providing related fee amounts. Reaching out to experienced contractors for estimates will help you find the best contractor for the job.
  3. Plan and zoning review: Once you choose the contractor to perform the work, they will develop your plan and submit it with your application to the City. The City then reviews the application to ensure it complies with all local zoning by-laws.  
  4. Zoning certificate and drawing submission: A zoning certificate confirms that you can submit your drawings for your building permit. Your architect/designer can apply the required building code information for the final review by the city. Having a structural engineer review the design for any additional permits you might need under the Ontario Building Code helps address all possible issues.
  5. Variance flags: If your application is flagged for non-compliance at Step 3, you’ll need to either make the changes required to remain compliant OR apply to the Committee of Adjustment for approval for the variance. This can add from two to six more months to the approval process. Once approved, you can move to Step 3. However, you can appeal to the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB) if your proposal is rejected. To avoid variance flags, it’s always best to show that your plans are equal to or better than the Code’s requirements with your initial application.

Once you complete these steps, the permits are processed, and you can begin planning and scheduling for your project.  

Working with Officials for Building Codes

If your building code knowledge (or patience) is limited, it’s always better to have your restoration contractor work with the code officials on your behalf.

Code officials review and approve building permit applications every day. They also review and okay alternative solutions submitted when the initial application is flagged for minor variances. A knowledgeable contractor provides a better understanding of code requirements during the application process. For example, although officials must provide reasons for refusals or point out any discrepancies against the building code, you might need help understanding their reasoning.

Officials also determine inspection timeframes, issue orders, or act against builders/owners when inspections find the building unsafe or against code. So again, having someone who has the same level of understanding as the officials helps you avoid issues.

Balancing Code Compliance with Project Goals

Whether your plans are conventional or innovative, your restoration contractor can create a framework that considers building materials, systems, and designs that align with your project goals and code compliance. In addition, your contractor can make a goal-based, transparent format when submitting your permit applications. As a result, your plans are understood by City officials from day one.

“Alternative solutions” not clearly aligned with the technical requirements of the Building Code are not necessarily a bad thing. However, they call for an alternative solution outline that demonstrates your plans and provides the same performance required by the Building Code.

Staying Up-To-Date on Changes to Building Codes

The Building Code is reviewed and updated regularly. Provincial government priorities, as well as innovations in construction and design, tend to influence amendments. Therefore, ensuring your plans follow the most current version is essential to avoid fines and costly “do-overs” for work that doesn’t pass inspection.  

Hiring a Qualified Restoration Contractor

An experienced restoration contractor can offer advice and explain the costs involved in the pre-construction process. The team at WellDone Inc., a building restoration company specializing in building improvements for commercial and multi-unit residential buildings throughout the GTA, will ensure you remain compliant and are successful in the permit application process. Reach out to us today.