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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / Building a cabin in ontario (permits and fees)
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Anonymous
# Posted: 7 Jun 2012 20:52
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Thanks Bushbunkie. I will continue my search and let you all know what i find out

Resting Place
# Posted: 11 Jun 2012 10:02
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I have found some more info about building in unorganized townships. The info comes from a realtor in the Port Loring area so i am not sure if it applies to other unorganized areas or just that one.

There are no minimum building requirements.

The only time you need permits is if you CHOOSE to have hydro or a septic system (septic must be 15' from property line).

Our plan is to build a small (480 sq ft) off grid home to live in year round and in the Loring area we would be able to do that... no permits necessary

Now to find a piece of land....

McCandless
# Posted: 13 Jun 2012 23:22
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Hi everyone and thanks so much to the guy who started/runs this site.

I need advice. I have just under 3 acres in the Kawartha area in Ontario. I checked the building codes and I wanted to do the 107 sq feet or under thing BUT it says you don't need a permit for anything that size UNLESS one is living in it then you do! After a bit it would be obvious to my 2 neighbours I was living there. So I may have to get a permit but this opens a flood gate because they will want to know how I'll get water, go to the washroom, shower and plug things in. I plan on having an outhouse, bringing in drinking water in jugs and using an outdoor shower in hotter months and sponge bathing. I just won't use things that require power or use crank ones (crank powered radio etc). I have a family member nearby where I can do laundry or charge a cell if I need to.

My fear is once I apply for a permit and they come around they will nit pick. Can they refuse my permit if I won't agree to being hooked up to septic or electric?

Also does anyone know the Ontario rules for outhouse distance to neighbour and water (the one end of my land is part of a marsh).

Thanks

bushbunkie
Member
# Posted: 14 Jun 2012 18:10
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Hi McCandless,
I had poperty up in the kawarthas (Balsam lake area), but sold it three years ago. The bylaws seem similiar across ontario.
Outhouses are illiegal now, plain and simple. Thet don't want you polluting the water shed, hence the permit for a health unit review first, then you have to put a septic system in. You cannot build a 100 sq. ft shed either...if you read the fine print, it has to be an adjoining building...meaning that there already has to be a house or cottage on the property, in order to build it. It can't be the only building on the property...this was straight from the inspector I spoke to.
We sold it and now are on the Bruce Penninsula...same rules but we built a bunkie anyway, because it was secluded and can't be seen from the road.If you are secluded enough, you could try building a bunkie and see how it goes...potentailly feel out the neighbours to see what they think. Ontario is tough for bylaws.

McCandless
# Posted: 14 Jun 2012 19:54
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Outhouses are illegal now?! Well crap (pun intended). So maybe I could say ta heck with it and get a permit for a small 12x12 one room cabin. Do you happen to know if composting toilets or other such systems are allowed. I'm afraid to ask how much a septic is. The land was a gift after I couldn't afford to keep up the payments on 100 acres I had in the far north (Kapuskasing) once I got divorced. I had preferred it as it was hidden and private. This one is nice runs 800 feet along a highway and is only 200 feet back with neighbours across and beside. I'm very low income and wanted a place to go now and then and maybe one day move to. Looks like I need to somehow get money for septic (which means bringing machines thru thick bush I don't want cut etc). I need to find a way to do this.

bushbunkie
Member
# Posted: 15 Jun 2012 18:56
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Hi McCandless,
Around here minimum sq ft is 1000 sq. ft....if you can get a permit for a 12 x 12, that would be great. We use a homemade compost toilet with peat moss...build upn the "lovable Lu" design...check out the website!
If things get to be too much of a hassle...could you try just staying under the radar for awhile...build a little bunkie..compost toilet, etc.
Many of us are in the same boat, so you have company ....we just want a little place to getaway too...not a second home in the city!!!!
PS..Kap is a beautiful area....worked in the north...and up as far as Yellowknife...loved it.

McCandless
# Posted: 15 Jun 2012 20:13
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I currently live in an apartment that is 315 square feet! AND my 2 kids were here too until they moved out...I can't use 100 sq feet..LOL.

Thanks I'll check the compost toilet site out. I also have the book The Humanure Handbook. The more I read the more I think you are right and I should just try the under the radar thing to start. My aunt has told me there are many half assed shacks and trailers on land in that area right on the road to her cottage which are in full view and no one cares nor reports it. And her small cottage road has more traffic than the highway my land is on. Also on the highway people fly past so they won't see me hiding in there.

I have emailed the one neighbour to introduce myself and to find out some info about the spot (boundaries). We are both artists and women alone and she seemed nice enough so maybe she can relate some to me and will be fine with things. I assumed she worried I might bulldoze and clear and put up lord knows what so I also told her I just want a wee place and I'd leave the land pretty much intact which I think made her happy. I made it clear I don't want to do anything that would in anyway make her feel her space was being violated by a city person coming up with big plans. I'll be meeting her in Aug even though I won't be living up there for a few years yet. I'm going up to survey and she's showing me the land markers. I think I'm going about it the right way so far.

McCandless
# Posted: 15 Jun 2012 20:14
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OOps I meant I can't use 1000 sq feet

leonk
Member
# Posted: 18 Jun 2012 10:36
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Resting Place,

I am extremely interested in your search in Loring area.
Your plan sounds very much what I would like to do.
Please post your progress or even send me a note to leonkaz yahoo com
I'd appreciate any info you could share, even realtor recommendation if you like yours.

Thanks

And thank you all for this informative thread and Cabinbuilder for the site.

Captain Winehead
# Posted: 28 Aug 2012 08:47
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A lot of people in this thread seem to be doing things backward. Whoever sold you a plot of land, without notifying you of a huge developers fee, pulled a fast one. Many plots of cheap, rural land have no road access, or cannot be built on, which is why they are cheap, and why you can get hundreds of acres for $10,000 way up north. Further, the government may own mineral rights, right of ways or shorelines. Do you research first! Almost all building regs are online, especially for Muskoka. An inspector can issue a tear down order, and will, if you try to avoid the permit route. Just my two cents.

McCandless
# Posted: 3 Sep 2012 17:25
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OK update here! I went into the permit place and found out many things on this thread are wrong. The rules vary depending on if a place being put up is a cottage, year round home or hunt cabin. Only year round homes have a footage minimum and for the Kawartha area it's 750 not 1,000 sq feet and it can be way less if you can claim another location as your mailing/primary residence. Out houses are NOT banned in Ontario. You can have a wood heated small place with an outhouse as long as you say it's a "cottage" rather than a house. You can also claim your place is a hunt cabin but only if the property is 100 acres or more...less land then call it a cottage. Best thing is to just go into your permit office and not be all worried like I was (my aunt made me go in and I'm glad she did). I walked in and told them I wanted a 400 sq foot place without having to put in septic and wanted an outhouse and be off the grid with wood heat. They will tell you what can be done and how to go about it.

Highland Lass
# Posted: 16 Sep 2012 22:35
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Hi, I just found this blog after lengthy searches for this type of thing -- tiny/alternative housing and Ontario bylaws and building codes. I have property in the Lanark Highlands, where we have a 300 sq ft shack, and plan to build an alternative style house. I have so many questions, and perhaps some insights after 3 years of flying under the radar, living off grid on our "vacant" land. Anyone up for questions?

Highland Lass
# Posted: 16 Sep 2012 22:43
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Hi McCandless, thanks for sharing this info. I've been fearful of giving too much info to the building inspector also. I'm after the same type of dwelling as you mentioned -- basically no sceptic, and possibly no well either. I just can't quite get over my hesitation to cOntact the municipality. Signed, Highland Lass

Anonymous
# Posted: 17 Sep 2012 07:25
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Why are you worried about doing the right thing? You should worry if you build without permits.

McCandless
# Posted: 17 Sep 2012 19:00
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If you are that worried then do what you did here and use a fake name to email the local permit place. Open an email account under a false name and use that to ask. They will need to know what size your property is, what it is zoned for (ie: rural/residential) as those things effect what can be built. Write with a land description and tell them exactly what you would like to do and see what they say is possible. Often if it's not a year round residence the rules are less therefore one can find someone who'll let them use their address to list that as their main address. Basically unless someone complains the permit guys don't care as long as you meet safety requirements.

Highland Lass
# Posted: 17 Sep 2012 20:37
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Your suggestion about emailing is a good one. I really want to have all my ducks lined up before approaching the municipality, so I don't get on the wrong side of the inspector. We are already living here full time, even though all we have is a permit for is a bush camp. We met the building inspector when we did that initially. I'm now wondering how big a bush camp dwelling can be, and whether it can be insulated and heated or not. We use propane to heat and cook with. If anyone is interested, I will let you know what I find out. And any suggestions or stories are welcome.

McCandless
# Posted: 17 Sep 2012 20:55
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Good luck, if you are already there most of the time you're ahead of most. I wish you all the best and keep us updated

leonk
Member
# Posted: 20 Sep 2012 20:32
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Lass, certainly let us know how it goes and pics
How do you do internet from your place..?
I hear there's lots of deer in Lanark, they must be eating your garden, if you have any...

MizFitz
Member
# Posted: 8 Oct 2012 00:32 - Edited by: MizFitz
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Hi everyone, (whoever is still around)
I found this forum the other day (i been researching this exact subject for 2 & a half days straight) & wow my dream is ALMOST crushed.

My husband & I are dying to get out of this forsaken city (Toronto) for years now & i thought i found a way...guess not..

I thought look for foreclosed, bank owned etc property save for an approx down payment & poof land is ours to do what we want...that proved a little hard so i started looking for land. Then these stories...ugh

The more i researched the more i thought im in over my head (living most my life in the city only some BEAUTIFUL childhood memories from times at my uncles farm) & the more my hubby got mad at the gov't.We are in no way experienced in anything to do with real estate.We are both in our later mid 30's with a 4 yr old together.
You see, we both would love to be farmers & we currently live in an apt (i have most of my life) and we just want to buy land, live on it as we build the same way all you's do, as environmentally friendly as we can with the least carbon footprint. Eventually we want to have chickens & live stock & lots of food. Money is so hard to come by for us, i thought save for a down payment (& a drivers licence & vehicle) find our land buy it and away we go (shows how nieve i am lol).
So then i came across cob house, we got re-excited, then i found out you couldnt even do that! Then i thought rent a trailer, cant do that either, so at this point im getting pissed. Ive bookmarked so many pages trying to find a way around every hurdle i came across.
Yesterday i found the last 2 pages of this thread today i read the first 2. We plan on staying in ont but we want to go as close as possible to good earth for our future crops. We know we will want to head north (as much as i hate snow). Im blown away about all the stuff i didnt know, all the hiccups there is & im worried about how much more i dont know.

Hubby's all for f'ing the man & going for the homemade bunkie thing & im semi ok witht hat too but i worry about water (to wash & whatnot - im a country girl @ heart no probs doing my poopin outside-except id be afraid of the animals lol) & electricity (to research the net for whatever we need) & i dont want to hook up to whatever would be on the property (electricty anyway) cuz we are trying to limit the costs & stay under the radar. We want to eventually live off the grid..solar power maybe wind power etc..
but if we get caught we will not have a way to get our building out of there & we would have nowhere else to go. Also worried of how much we would have to "rough it" with a child..if it was just us no prob, but its not.
I even thought of moving to the town renting an apt for 6 months or so before building or buying.
This is just ridicoulous. And im so jealous of the pics of bunkies ive seen. I so want to do that!

Any advice? Info? ideas? That i dont know yet thats not in this thread already would be helpful. I dont want to be in Toronto anymore havent for years neither of us do but im not ready to give up on this dream yet i figure if i try hard enough i may find a way...

like really i went from having just "dream" i thought would never happen to it being possible in less than 10 yrs, to cob house, trailer, to here...theres gotta be more i can check out.

Any agencies out there that make it easier for young people to do what we want to do without selling our soul? (which i doubt but worth a try) or any other loopholes we havent found yet?
Like really how the gonna prove how many days ur actually staying there?
And can u legally keep any gov't/inspectors or whoever from coming on ur land (like a no tresspassing sign & a few big mean dogs or something?) to prove ur living there under the radar?
we also want to have/keep alot of tree area on whatever we buy. We are very outdoorsy & love forests.

2 city slickers (but farmers @ heart) dreaming of being farmers.
Thx in advance for any replies.
Sry its so long - i talk alot too :D

~Miz

MomsCabin
Member
# Posted: 9 Oct 2012 05:06
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OMGoodness yessss! There were City Reps involved when my mother put up her cheap hundred dollar pool--Ended up costing over 1000!! Now, went to my mothers friend AFTER said and done she is long term resident of their town said and I quote: " if you don't tell them (the city) and no one will report it no one will know!!" and it's true, she's had two sets of land THERE and two cabins in Wasaga Beach, Ontario--RECOSTRUCTING STUFF ALLthe time we swear it's what keeps her going to work and complain--NEVER ONCE APPLIED for a permit and never once told the town!! I SAY I'm ding the same thing going to pay off an old farmer for his old barn n build build build over time and slowly and off the grid SORTA! .... Wish me luck and best of luck please keep sharing this is amazing info

OwenChristensen
Member
# Posted: 9 Oct 2012 07:28
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Gee, I always figured, if it get too tough here I could move to Canada.

Owen

Cooks Dock
Member
# Posted: 9 Oct 2012 17:34
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Couple of things. As Cpt winehead stated, putting cart before the horse sort of thing...We researched and bought in an 'unorganized" on purpose.
Anon: Permits? Most people don't cheap out when building something for themselves. 1000 sq on the Bruce is just not right so people are forced . We built 16X24 , or overbuilt 16X24 way past what the code required. And the trailer issue. That also is not right. In a lot of townships you can "apply" for an amendment to the zoning bylaw to allow you to place a trailer on YOUR property but there is a stiff cost for this application and subsequent permit> MONEY GRAB
P9090153.jpg
P9090153.jpg


silverwaterlady
Member
# Posted: 9 Oct 2012 21:33 - Edited by: silverwaterlady
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I think a lot of people on here take to much advise from other people when it comes to building permits and what is allowed on your property,trailers etc... Each municipaliy has different rules and it's up to you as a prospective builder to go to your building department and get the correct information.

Curious1
# Posted: 12 Oct 2012 08:54
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bushbunkie

That looks like a great setup, how much did the whole thing cost? Could you recommend builders, well diggers etc

morganplus8
Member
# Posted: 15 Oct 2012 10:55 - Edited by: morganplus8
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Hello everyone!

First off, thanks to the OP/Website Personal who took the time to create such an awesome Website for the rest of us! Brilliant!!

I have been reading up on Solar Systems for my cabin and noticed that there tends to be a great deal of frustration with potential cabin owners in Ontario. This cabin of mine is located on Lake St Clair in Southern Ontario, about 75 minutes from my home and a very nice drive along a river to get there. I, like most of you wanted to build something that wasn't too expensive so that I could park some boats and have some family fun. This is it.

I owned a cottage on Lake Erie but over the years, the water moved far away from my dock! I sold it and went without for a few years until I researched various Townships and legal issues with building a cabin and just using it for boating. That's when I became aware of our building codes and Township By-laws. I noticed a break in the jurisdiction between the Township who wouldn't let me do anything with my land, and the Conservation Authority who weren't so sticky about things. And so I went to the CA and requested a building permit to develop part of my shoreline, something I learned the Township has no control over. I talked them into letting me have a shed on my dock to store my boating supplies etc.. In return, I promised to follow the rules, protect the fish, use some old lumber over the water itself etc., and they gave me a 3-year permit to build this monster.

The pictures are a bit outdated as more has been done there but you can see, I will be able to live comfortably in 260 squ.ft. of living space and none of this effects my low taxes because the Township has nothing to do with the CA!

The moral of this story is that there are ways around certain by-laws if you can find out where the Township ends and the CA begins.

----------

Some additional information:

This property is in with some very expensive homes, the guy across from me used to shoot golf balls onto my land from his $ 800,000 home, now he has to look at my cabin 24/7.

We have hockey players there with mansions for cottages/homes as well.

The point is that the laws of the area are subject to limitation which can leave an opening for us to do things our way. I'm looking for the same sort off thing in the Muskokas and I firmly believe that by making use of the Conservation Authority, you can achieve some good results. According to most Township by-laws, their control ends below the flood plain. In addition, they aren't allowed to comment/control or recognize anything above the flood plain line. And so this simply means that you can build a cabin that doesn't touch the ground or one on a slope below the flood plain.

morganplus8
Member
# Posted: 15 Oct 2012 11:29
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Hello everyone!

I'm having a devil of a time posting a single message with pics to the board so I'll re-post my first message again if I can remember everything!

This is what you can legally do in Southern Ontario, in the heart of cottage country, an hour from home and having expensive neighbours around you too. I wanted a boat house and a large dock for boats without the heavy costs so I researched the laws and found a break for us using the Conservation Authority.

They gladly approved of the dock, the building and the gazebo with a standard $ 250 permit that is good for 3-years. The Township has no legal rights to the slope of a property nor what goes on top of the dock on that property. This area of waterfront is controlled by the CA. It took some research and a huge gamble on my part to get this cleared with our Township, the Township inspector came out, looked at what I had done, I showed him my building permit which follows the Building Code for Ontario, and he shook my hand and went away. Note the building is 108 squ.ft. at the base and as big as you want above it.

The township controls the flood plain area, CA covers everything else and so I was able to build this (I did it in a hurry and didn't have much time to design something really cool) project legally. My friend went ahead with his using my methods and he now has a cool shed with a built in sleeper on the righthand side of his building! Both of us have internal steel framework to hold things up.

Sorry for the mix up with my posts!!
The Cabin and Gazebo Plus Seadoo Lift on a 60 Ft Dock
The Cabin and Gazebo Plus Seadoo Lift on a 60 Ft Dock
Provision for storing a boat upstairs or a large screen window for sleeping at night.
Provision for storing a boat upstairs or a large screen window for sleeping at night.
Note the land behind the biulding is clear.
Note the land behind the biulding is clear.
My friends cool cabin using my legal rules.
My friends cool cabin using my legal rules.


bushbunkie
Member
# Posted: 15 Oct 2012 18:53
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Cooks Dock
Your place looks great! What Lake are you on...Owen Sound area?

bushbunkie
Member
# Posted: 15 Oct 2012 18:57
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morganplus8
Your place looks great...good for you...I guess the only glitch is that you need to be on the water, which is more $$ then I intended to spend up on the Bruce Peninsula. If I everfind myself in thatsituation I'll explore both sides.

leonk
Member
# Posted: 15 Oct 2012 19:09
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very nice. thanks for posting this info, Morgan.

morganplus8
Member
# Posted: 16 Oct 2012 15:17
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leonk - Thanks! I just wanted to let others know that you can find common ground for most issues today.

Bushbunkie!

Thanks for the compliment! That glitch isn't so bad, really, you just have to go into the Conservation Authority's office for the Bruce and tell them your story and ask what waterways they control and is it possible to build a dock with a structure on it. While there, I would ask them what land areas they control too. Wouldn't hurt. Remember, they sponsor land with creeks, rivers and such, nothing to do with the big waterways here.

My land costed me $ 23,000 for 120 ft of waterfront. That's not much when you think about how much it costs to park a couple of boats at the marina each year! I purchased my land knowing that fellow land owners were getting into all kinds of trouble with the Township, regarding Trailer use, and of course, cabins! I knew that I would have to do something different in order not to be fined as they were. I discovered that if everyone placed their out-buildings (cabins) on their dock, the Township would go away. I can tell you there are a large number of owners who have accepted us down there now.

I know the Bruce well, spent most of my fishing life there and I know there are a number of properties that have structure on them already. Perhaps you could see if there is something, anything really, that you can convert to your own needs?

I plan on buying 250 more feet of waterfront and then I'm buying a 100 ft lot on an island that allows us to build a 200 squ ft building without a permit!! Again, look around, there are exceptions to every rule out there. In the case of the Island, it is in a County that allows 200 squ ft.. Good luck.

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