Building a Cottage: Red Tape

Last time I updated the progress of the cottage I hadn’t had much in the way of good news. I found out I would have to fill half of my lot for the septic bed, which would cost far more then I had planned and would knock out most of my trees. I also found out my cottage does not meet the minimum size for a house as per the local by-laws. I had hoped that the building department would consider the deck as building space since it is going to be attached to the cottage and covered by a roof, but that was shot down. My very last hope is to apply for a minor variance which, if approved, will give me an exception to the by-law and let me build as planned.

It has been 6 weeks since I submitted the application, which cost an additional $375, and I have just found out that I now need to go to a committee hearing in June to plead my case. They have approved this type of request before and since I am going below the minimum as opposed to over the maximum size allowed there won’t be any environmental impact concerns. I think the biggest hurdle from the municipality’s perspective is taxes. With a set minimum size of buildings they can guarantee themselves a certain level of tax revenue. Surrounding neighbours have been notified of my application and can attend the hearing to voice any objections if they wish. On the plus side I only have 4 neighbours on my street. It’s a rural area and a dead end street so there aren’t many people to object. On the negative side all the people on the street have year round homes rather then cottages. I’m worried that they will complain about having a “tiny shack” on the same street as their waterfront homes.

Assuming there are no objections in the meeting there are still 21 days after the hearing for people to object. If nobody objects in that time frame then the application is approved and I can build as planned. Then I will need to get the building plans approved and finally my contractors for the foundation, septic, and grading can start to work. If things go as planned I figure I will be able to start building around the end of August or beginning of September.

If things don’t go as planned and I have to build an extra 200sqft, that means I have to somehow come up with the money, I have to have all my plans re-drawn, and then resubmit everything for approval. That would most likely mean I will have to wait until next year to start building, which would be a huge disappointment.

Stay tuned for your next episode of Building a Cottage – What have I got myself into? on June 12th when I’ll have an update with the result of the hearing.

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