The Husband has been spending plenty of time with the computer, creating drawings and pulling everything together for our upcoming big renovation.
(Henceforth, said renovation will be known as Project Lift-The-Roof. Because a) that’s what we’re doing and b) that’s how much it’s going to rock my world.)
Two Fridays ago, he popped into city hall with what he had ready, not because we’re ready to submit for permits, but just because he wanted to talk to someone and find out if there was anything we hadn’t considered. What followed was a weekend of disappointment, reconsideration, frustration, reworking, research, relief, and a little replanning.
This is what we missed: in the city of Toronto, all new construction must be built 2 feet from the property line. Anyone who lives in Toronto or has even visited a residential neighbourhood of Toronto will know that this is a difficult bylaw to work around. When your lot is only 20 feet to begin with, accepting the fact that your house will have to be a mere 16 feet wide is a tough pill to swallow.
But wait a minute… our house isn’t 2 feet from the property line. In fact, it’s right on the property line. So, it shouldn’t matter, right? We’re not building a whole new house after all! Wrong. It matters. All new construction, whether it’s on top of an existing building or not falls under the bylaw.
At first, we went back to the drawing board. The Husband figured out the new dimensions we would need to bring the whole thing in 2 feet on both sides, we ditched one of the bathrooms and started playing around with the space we had.
The extra bedrooms turned into closets, the bathroom became a tight, bare-essentials kind of room and the whole layout lost the allure of luxury that had me so excited to build it.
We discussed not doing the renovation. We considered our other options – continue to deal with our tiny house, take over the basement when our tenants choose to move out, we even considered the list-and-move route… We were disappointed.
And then, we did a little more research. Originally, the Husband thought that, to get a variance (an exception to the bylaw), we would be looking at a cost of $20,000, way outside the amount we had any interested in paying. This seemed outrageous and had us a little confused. How did everyone else do it? So many developers buy bungalows in our area and turn them into ugly, box-like monsters of houses. Are they actually absorbing such a high price to do it?
A little more research revealed that we’re actually dealing with a minor variance. Far less expensive, far easier to complete. Unfortunately, a variance takes a lot longer to get than a building permit. If all goes well with getting our paperwork in, we won’t have the go-ahead from the city in our hands until, at the earliest, January.
But, we can wait. This will be worth it. I’m sure of it.