INDUSTRY EXPERT: Toronto’s Future Now
by David Wilkes
Facilitating renovations and custom-building in the GTA to increase housing supply
I am always glad when I notice renovation and custom-home building in our neighbourhoods. It not only benefits homeowners but when secondary suites are added, they can play a small yet important part in increasing our region’s housing supply. This is just another reason we should try to make the renovation and custom-home building process as easy as possible for homeowners.
Some people create secondary suites in their homes by finishing their basement or converting their attic. These spaces can then be used to house a family member—perhaps an elderly parent—or a tenant. Other homeowners in the GTA have a garage or another structure in their backyard that they can convert to a secondary unit.
OPTIMIZING URBAN SPACE
Sometimes, homeowners even have space on their lot for a second, small dwelling. These homes typically face onto public lanes—Toronto, for instance, has more than 2,400—and draw their water and electricity from the main house. Laneway housing, as this type of home is known, has many proponents in the GTA, our industry among them, because it has the potential to provide muchneeded affordable rental housing in established neighbourhoods.
LANEWAY HOUSING UPDATE
While a basement or attic renovation requires only a simple building permit, until recently, homeowners who wanted to build laneway housing had to go through a complicated approvals process. This is the reason Toronto has only a few laneway homes. Things are changing though. Recently, Toronto City Council voted in favour of allowing laneway houses.
Whether you are planning to refurbish a basement or add a laneway house, a RenoMark renovator is your best ally in navigating the process. This renovation professional will share with you his or her knowledge of the rules and regulations that apply in your case and the permits you need. He or she can even submit the application to the municipality on your behalf. Find a RenoMark renovator at renomark.ca.
PERMIT & APPROVAL PROCESS
Unfortunately, even with the help of a RenoMark renovator, the permit and approval process can take months for basic home additions and more than a year for larger renovations and custom homes. That is why BILD created a Standard of Service Excellence that municipalities can adopt. Under the Standard, municipalities would commit to reasonable turnaround times and specific timeframes, provide an online permitting portal for transparency and accountability, and improve service by building inspectors.
By adopting a Standard of Service Excellence for the permit and approval process, municipalities would not only make life easier for homeowners who are undertaking a renovation or building a custom home, they would also help speed up the building of the secondary units that help increase housing supply in our region.
|David Wilkes is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), the voice of the home building, land development and professional renovation industry in the GTA.|