Can I Build A House Addition?

Can I Build an Addition?

Every week we get calls from homeowner that are looking to build a house addition, and the two most frequent questions are “How much will a house addition cost?” and “Can I build a house addition?”

A previous blog post has answered the first question “How much does a house addition cost?” so let’s talk about the second one.

A number of factors affect the ability to build an addition to your home, and it comes down to three main factors: zoning, structural, cost.  Let’s look at all three in a little more detail.

Zoning and other Government Regulations

Your municipal government regulates land development, primarily through zoning bylaws.  These bylaws limit the size of a home, by imposing setback requirements in the front, side and rear yards, by controlling maximum height, and often by limiting lot coverage.  For example, the minimum front and rear yards must be 7.5 metres, the maximum height may be 10 metres, and the house may cover no more that 35% of the property.  Additionally, there may be parking requirements and restrictions, and landscape requirements.

In Toronto and Mississauga, the city has strict tree protection requirements, and may prohibit or limit the removal of a tree on private property.  In ravine areas, Conservation Authority approval may be required before a building permit is issued.  In parts of Caledon and Halton Hills, Niagara Escarpment Commission approval is required.  North of the city, Oak Ridges Moraine regulations add an addition layer of approval to many rural properties.

Structural Considerations

The existing structure of the home has to be considered, especially when adding a second storey or third floor addition.  The existing building foundation and walls must be able to support the additional floor that is being added.

Open concept areas on the main floor are popular, and are frequently requested by homeowners.  The existing load must be assessed, to determined how it can be properly supported.

And finally, can the addition be built the way you have envisioned, or are there structural limitations that may require plans to be adjusted?

Budget, Cost and Financing

The amount of money you have available, or are able to obtain from a financial institution is the key factor in determining whether you can build the addition.  Few homeowners have the cash resources, so most are borrowing from a bank, through line-of-credit, or with a construction mortgage.  (Read more about how to finance your renovation project here.)

Many zoning issues can be resolved and most structural deficiencies can be fixed – so in the end it comes down to how much you can afford to spend on the home, and how much you want to spend on the home.

The amount you can afford will depend how much available cash you have, and how much the bank is willing to lend based on your ability to repay and your collateral (equity in the home).

The amount you want to spend is a personal decision: how long you plan to live in the home, your concerns with return on investment, and how the additional housing expense will affect your lifestyle.

Do you have questions?

We’d love to talk to you.  Give us a call to discuss your project.