Accessory Apartment Unit
The information below has been provided to assist in summarizing the typical requirements to obtain a building permit for an Accessory Apartment Unit within the Town of Collingwood. Additional information may be required depending on the application type and individual circumstances.
Please refer to the Government of Ontario's Second Unit Guide.
Planning your accessory suite
Congratulations, you’re planning to build an accessory suite! The success of your project begins with proper planning. There are many items to take into consideration when planning an accessory suite such as budget, timelines, whether you will hire a Contractor or do your own renovations, and how you will ensure the quality of work to ensure that you have a safe, well-built accessory unit at the end.
The purpose of this section is to help get you thinking about the various items that may need to be considered as part of your project.
Please note that this is not an instruction manual, but rather a guide to serve as a general overview of items to be considered when contemplating the addition of an accessory unit. It is ultimately up to the owner of the property to ensure compliance with all other by-laws and other applicable regulations.
1. Ensuring zoning compliance:
- Accessory apartments are only permitted in residential zones where there is a direct municipal connection to water and sewer.
- The driveway must be able to accommodate or be expanded to accommodate 3 parking spaces. Vehicles can be parked in tandem, side by side or in a garage, if the garage meets the above noted space. You can use up to 56% of the front yard space to create accommodations for parking.
- The area that is being turned into an accessory unit must be smaller than the area of the original principal dwelling.
- Only one secondary suite is permitted per lot. If you already have a secondary suite, you cannot build another.
2. Should I and can I DIY my accessory unit?
While there is no rule or by-law that says that you must hire an installer/contractor/etc., it is a topic that needs to be approached with caution. It is important that you consider your own skills and abilities prior to deciding to undertake a DIY for your accessory unit. It is also important to note that “cutting corners” is not always the fastest way to completion as your accessory unit will have to undergo several site inspections. If it is uncovered that something was not done properly and/or to code, you will fail your site inspection and be required to repair the work to comply with Building Code and Municipal By-Laws.
Some items to consider before you undertake a DIY:
- Do you know the Ontario Building Code and the municipal By-laws under which you are going to be working under? If so, do you fully understand them and how to apply them to the construction of your unit?
- Are you able to draw/sketch/graph code-compliant drawings of your proposed job that are compliant and to scale?
- Are you able to provide the detail necessary on your drawings so that they are understandable?
- Do you have a background in construction and best practices associated with this level of construction building?
- Do you have the materials/tools/equipment needed to complete the project?
3. Hiring Contractors and Professionals to construct your Accessory Apartment:
Hiring a contractor can be an intimidating process if you have never done it before. When choosing a professional, it is important that although they are constructing the job, you remain involved by viewing the progress of the job, ensuring timelines are met by the contractor, and making sure you have a signed contract with a predetermined payment schedule that is appropriate to the scope of work.
The creation of accessory units requires a niche area of specialized knowledge - regardless of whether you are constructing a new secondary suite, or you are doing upgrades to an existing suite to conform to Code.
Some items that you may want to consider are listed below. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of all items.
- Knowledge of appropriate fire/ sound separation between units, support structure ratings
- Design of areas - there are minimum and maximum room size requirements, and specifications on egress window requirements, ceiling height, natural light requirements, etc.
- Knowledge of life-safety systems including mechanical, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and means of egress
- HVAC requirements and ventilation
- Requirements for electrical and plumbing as well as specifications for where their mains should be located within the building
NOTE: Please note that Building Services cannot provide any consultation on design or construction outside of the permit process. It is the responsibility of the Building Department to ensure that the apartment is constructed to Building Code requirements. How you achieve the code requirements is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Drawings must be submitted with your building permit. They can be completed by the property owner or you can hire a design professional who is qualified in the appropriate field to do so.
The benefits of hiring a professional can include:
- Experience and knowledge in the appropriate section of Building Code that applies to your job
- Has the knowledge to suggest alternative solutions to your ideas that may save you money in construction costs
- Reduce delays in issuing of your permit as they know the requirements that are necessary to submit
5. Permit Applications:
As a homeowner you can authorize an individual or company to apply for a permit on your behalf. If you are having a third party apply for the building permit, you are required to complete an Owner Authorization Form and submit this with your building permit application.
Determining which products are necessary for constructing an Accessory Apartment is critical when it comes to the design, planning and ultimately the success of the construction of your project.
Below is a list of key items to consider:
Different types of fire separations for ceilings and walls
- Fire Rated Doors
- The use of a single, HVAC system (with in-duct smoke detectors) versus using a separated system for your new unit
- Different types of window sizes and options for egress
- Sound insulation between units
There are many factors when determining an appropriate budget for your project. Some items that are commonly associated with construction of Accessory Units include:
- Design fees - (for consultation and professional drawings)
- Building permit application fees
- Contractor fees
It is not uncommon for homeowners to uncover unexpected costs as the project progresses. It is always recommended to have some funds set aside as a reserve.
Hiring a professional will likely seem like a more expensive option at the forefront of the project. However, when you hire the right professional, this can save you a significant amount of money in the long run. It is advisable to have more than one quote done on your project. Make sure you protect yourself by having a signed contract and a predetermined payment schedule.
8. Landlord Costs
It is important to understand that when you rent out your accessory unit there a few costs, some of which are recurring monthly payments, that will offset your monthly rental income being received. Some of the items to consider are:
- Increase in insurance premiums
- Property management fees
- Increased utility costs
- Increase to property taxes
- Loss of rent due to nonpayment of rent by the Tenant
- Damage repairs due to neglectful tenants
- Turnover costs - general cleaning and updating when one tenant moves out and another moves in
- Eviction costs and court fees
9. Required Building Permits
A building permit gives legal permission for construction, demolition, renovating of a property. Failure to obtain a permit can result in a stop work order, legal recourse and/or having to remove completed work.
New Secondary Suites:
A Building Permit is required
Existing Secondary Suites:
If your secondary suite existed prior to July 14, 1994 and has continually operated:
- You can apply to have your secondary suite registered. To do so, you will be required to have a site inspection done by the Fire Department. The results of this will determine if a building permit may be required to alter your pre-existing suite. Please keep in mind that in order to apply under this section of code, you will be required to submit proof to support that the secondary suite has been in existence and in continuous operation. An example of this would be a signed affidavit by a previous owner, rent receipts dating back to this time, or a prior real estate listing stating the secondary suite existed.
If your secondary suite existed after July 14, 1994, a building permit will be required.
- Buildings older than 5 years are reviewed under part 11 of the Ontario Building Code to provide relief from new build requirements.
- Once you have passed your final inspection, your accessory unit will be registered by the Town of Collingwood.
- Please review this Accessory Apartment Unit Checklist for a summary of Ontario Building Code requirements.
10. Call Before you Dig
- Always contact Ontario One Call before you dig, to locate any underground lines.
- This is an online service that is available 24/7.
11. Conservation Authority
Check to see if your property is located within the Nottawasaga Conservation Authority. If your property is located within the boundaries of this area, you will be required to obtain written permission from them. That written permission MUST be submitted with your building permit application forms.
There is a one-time building permit application fee of $528.38 (2021).
We strongly recommended that you work with a design professional such as an architect, professional engineer or a Building Code qualified designer to create complete and accurate drawings that comply with the Building Code and Collingwood Zoning By-law. These drawings will need to be submitted along with your permit application.
All drawings for non-residential and multi-residential properties such as apartments and condos must be signed, sealed and dated by an architect, professional engineer and/or qualified designer.
Drawings that are prepared by a qualified designer (as defined in the Ontario Building Code) must include:
- The qualified designer’s name
- The qualified designer’s registration number
- The qualification identification number of the qualified designer (Building Code Identification Number: BCIN)
- The qualified designer's signature
- The stamp or statement that the qualified designer has reviewed and taken responsibility for the design activities
Effective January 1, 2022, a Zoning Certificate is required before you apply for a residential building permit.
Your drawings must be drawn to scale and clearly show what is existing and the changes you’re proposing. We may request additional information when your application is reviewed.
For second units (also known as basement apartments) you’ll need to submit:
- A site plan showing:
- the existing dwelling, lot width, and property lines
- the existing driveway, parking spaces, amenity area, and front landscaped areas
- Detailed floor plans of the existing dwelling
- Detailed floor plans, elevations, and details of the proposed Accessory Unit
- Detailed elevations showing the Accessory Unit entrance/exit and emergency egress window
- Existing floor separation and fire separation details
- Heat Loss and Heat Gain Summary (as applicable)
- Properties served by a Septic System may have to have the existing system evaluated to ensure the new unit does not reduce the performance level of the Septic System.
Building Permit Fee: $588.62 flat fee (2022 Rate).
The Ontario Building Code turnaround timeframes for the first review of a complete application:
Complete Applications: 15 Business Days
Factors Delaying Permit Processing Time
- Additional review may be necessary if revisions are requested by your Building Inspector due to incomplete, non-compliant, or unclear drawings.
- Incomplete drawings typically cause the majority of all delays in receiving your building permit. When planning your project, you should consider allocating additional time that may be required for yourself or your designer to revise drawings, and the Building Inspector to review your revised drawings for compliance. This could add several weeks or more depending on availability and complexity.
Sentence 220.127.116.11.(1) of Division C of the Ontario Building Code (the Code) requires that where an application for a permit meets the requirements of a complete application as set out in Sentence 18.104.22.168.(5) of Division C, a decision to issue or refuse (with written reasons) such permit shall be made within times prescribed by the Code. The Code further provides that where the Chief Building Official determines that an application is not complete, the Chief Building Official is not required to make a decision within the times prescribed by the Code.
- Submit the complete permit application and all supporting documents using the Public Portal.
- You must register prior to using the Public Portal.
- Follow the steps when completing your application.
- Credit card payment will be required to pay your fees.
- When your application is successfully submitted through the Public Portal, Staff will complete a pre-screen of your application to review for completeness and compliance with the Building Code and Applicable Law. A status update will be sent via email within mandated timelines.
- You may also view the status under "My Items" on the Public Portal
- Application review comments are provided during the review to identify any outstanding requirements and to summarize permit fees.
- Permit issued when review is complete and all fees are paid.
Please DO NOT include any personal information on your Building Plans (e.g., the homeowner’s name or phone number). Building Plans submitted for Permit are subject to disclosure in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).