Neighbour beware – construction next door 

Saving old Leaside

You’re resigned to the new build next door. Your neighbour has Committee of Adjustment (CoA) approval, building permit, and demolition permit in hand. But as the workers dig a deep hole, bigger than you expected, right up to your property line, construct forms and fill them with concrete for foundations, the forms project out longer than you thought they were supposed to, and – horror – the wall of the excavation gives way, and your foundation walls and footings are exposed. Is your property at risk? Is the construction taking place according to the approved plans per the building permit?

Concerns and, yes, problems with new construction next door are not uncommon. In the past month neighbours next to a couple of sites, one in north Leaside, one in south Leaside, have contacted the LPOA about exactly these sorts of situations.

What to do? Obviously, call the building inspector: the general enquiry line for Toronto Buildings is (416) 397-5330. In both of the Leaside cases the building inspector was able to resolve matters in a few days. In one case shoring was installed; in another it was determined that the approved plan was in fact being followed.

Construction in Leaside. One of the keys is to be informed about the project. Neighbours who participate in CoA hearings will be aware of the approved “minor variances.” Sometimes the CoA (and if it has been the subject of an appeal, the Toronto Local Appeal Body) stipulates that construction must be “substantially the same as the plans submitted to and approved” by the CoA (or TLAB). What does “substantially the same” really mean?

To understand what the City has approved you need to obtain a copy of the building permit (and plan). The so-called Routine Disclosure process applies for viewing or obtaining copies of plans for issued permits. Find out more here: www.toronto.ca/services-payments/building-construction/preliminary-zoning-reviews-information/request-building-records/

You are permitted to view or obtain copies of permit plans once the permit has been issued, provided the owner has not requested that the plans be kept private. There is a fee for the disclosure plus any applicable copying fees.

Once the permit is issued you can make your request for Routine Disclosure. Check permit status here: www.toronto.ca/services-payments/building-construction/search-the-status-of-a-building-permit-application/

Calling the building inspector when things are going awry is necessary but is not preventive. If you are concerned about potential problems related to future construction next door you might consider getting a development construction agreement and monitoring by an engineer. But this is a private, not a City matter.

About Geoff Kettel 139 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.