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Accessory Structures

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What is an accessory building or structure?

Accessory structures are separate from your main home, but must be on the property. Here are some examples of accessory structures: detached garages, garden sheds, swimming pools, gazebos and play equipment. Our zoning by-law regulates their size, type and location. These structures must also meet the Ontario Building Code. The fence by-law regulates the height and location of fences on your property.

Contact the Planning Services Department before you begin construction or submit a building permit. We can help you determine if you need to meet the requirements of the zoning by-law.

Do I need a building permit?

You need a building permit for all construction over 10 square metres (107 square feet). Your accessory building or structure must still comply with the zoning requirements even if you do not require a building permit.

If you're building a fence around your swimming pool you will need a pool enclosure permit. Contact the Building Department to determine if the building or structure you want to construct requires a building permit or pool enclosure permit.

Where can accessory buildings and structures go on your property?

Accessory buildings and structures must be set back a minimum of 0.6 metres (2 feet) from your property line in urban areas, or 1.2 metres (4 feet) in rural areas.

Above ground and in-ground pools must be set back a minimum of 1.2 meters (4 feet) from your side and rear property lines.

Accessory buildings and structures in your front yard or exterior side yard (for corner lots) must meet the minimum setback for the zone. They must not be located in visibility triangles, meaning you cannot obstruct the view for drivers and pedestrians in the corner of your property that's located near the street.

How large can I build an accessory building or structure?

There are different standards in the zoning by-law for the size of the structure you build. It all depends if your property is located in an urban, rural or agricultural area. The Zoning By-law outlines lot coverage and floor area permitted for your structure.

Lot coverage is the total footprint of a building or structure on a lot divided by the total lot area. Floor area is measured by the horizontal distance between the interior faces of the interior walls of the building or structure at the level of each floor. Do not include swimming pools in your lot coverage or floor area calculations.

There is also a maximum height for accessory buildings and structures, depending on whether your property is in an urban or rural area. Contact Planning Services staff for more information.

What drawings are required?

Drawings prepared by the homeowner are acceptable for submission as long as they are drawn to scale and accurately describe the construction. You may use standard garage drawings to submit with your permit application or use the information contained to prepare your drawings.

The following drawings are usually required:

  • Site plan: A site plan or survey of your lot showing all lot lines and dimensions, size and location of all existing buildings, the size and location of the proposed building and location of any septic system. Indicate all setbacks from the proposed building to the property lines. Show location of all easements and right-of-ways.
  • Floor plan: A floor plan of the proposed structure, complete with window and door locations, all dimensions and identification of construction materials being used, including foundation. Specify the wall height.
  • Cross section: A cross section showing the proposed construction is required.
  • Engineered trusses: Shop drawings sealed and signed by a professional engineer.

How and where do I apply for a building permit?

When you are ready to apply, bring two copies of your plans to:
Municipal Administrative Centre (3rd Floor)
40 Temperance Street, Bowmanville

You will need to fill out the building permit application and pay the fee. We will review your submission to ensure compliance with the Ontario Building Code, the Ontario Building Code Act, the zoning by-law and all applicable laws. We will issue your building permit promptly if the proposed construction meets all the requirements and all of the trusses shop drawings and permits from other agencies are provided to the Building Division.

Designers other than the homeowner of accessory structures that exceed 50 square metres (538 square feet) in building area are required to be qualified. For more information on qualification, visit the Government of Ontario Qualification and Registration page.

How much will it cost?

The cost of the building permit is $4.21 per square metre of floor area, with a minimum $97 charge.

What inspections are required?

Building, heating and electrical inspections may be required.

To arrange for an inspection, please call 905-623-7876. Call before 3 p.m. for next day inspection.

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