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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / Building code requirements for seasonal cabins ontario
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# Posted: 1 Jun 2011 10:34

I am having difficulty obtaining simple explanations on what the building code requirements are for a seasonal cabin in Ontario. I managed to find the size permitted for a dwelling based upon the local zoning bylaw. Anybody have any web references for me.

# Posted: 1 Jun 2011 12:21 - Edited by: CabinBuilder

I had the same problem getting a clear answer (also in Ontario).
All I understood was that I can build a cabin under 10 sq m (~100 sq ft) without permit, but anything more requires permit - and the minimum in that case is ~1000 sq.ft (or similar number, don't remember exactly).
In other words, I could not build anything between 100 sq ft and 1000 sq ft (or so) - with or without permit. Stupid! That's the sq ft range I wanted for my recreational use cabin.
I had no choice and eventually decided to build ~100 sq ft cabin.
Although, to my knowledge, the rules are not Ontario-wide - they vary from municipality to municipality.

# Posted: 1 Jun 2011 15:08

It varies by municipality. Ontario Building Code stipulates a permit is required for anything above 10 m2 (107 sq. ft.) but be careful with the 10 square metre max without a permit. in my municipality that cannot be a dwelling. i got dinged and now am applying for a permit to expand to 650 sq. ft. which is the minimum requirement where i am.

# Posted: 18 Oct 2011 15:51

You may also want to talk to the planning department. Where I am at (North of Kingston, Ontario) you are able to apply for a minor variance. The planning department also recommended that I make the building look bigger i.e. wrap around deck. That I am finding is the easy hurdle to clear as far as septic I was told by the same department that I may use a composting toilet (Class 1 sewage system) and a leaching pond (class 2) pottable water on the other hand I was not able to get a strait answer on. Hydro again was another issue, according to the Municipality by-law I require hydro to get an occupancy permit. After some research it appears that we may have to wire the cabin with a 100 Amp service and have the appropriate inspections done after which we would not get the actual connection done.
In a nutshell I would recommend calling your local building department the Ontario Building Code would consider this a dwelling and it would be subject to the requirements. No separate requirements for a "seasonal" resident.
If you are on a waterfront lot there may also be some opportunities that will differ from a non lot i.e. boat house.
Good luck as I too am finding out there is a lot of hoops to jump through.

# Posted: 27 Jan 2020 15:55

How far north of Kingston are you? We’re in North Frontenac. You can have a sleep cabin here, without electrical and plumbing. It cannot be rented out.

# Posted: 28 Jan 2020 12:27

My perhaps oversimplified understanding:

The Ontario building code does not explicitly differentiate seasonal vs nonseasonal residence (though there are specific elements that may differ by use where this could happen indirectly, I'm not sure).

Municipalities set their zoning/plan requirements, which vary. Sometimes they have different requirements for seasonal vs not, depends on their approved plan and zoning regulations. That's where minimum area requirements will come from. They will also codify septic requirements and property/water setbacks, though the actual relevant authority on at least the former is the local conservation and/or health authority.

All these things come into play a) when you apply for a building permit, b) if someone complains. You can try to apply for a minor variance, but that is not blanket given.

You don't need a building permit for <= 10 sq m, so that's a loophole. You still should adhere to the building code (as a small accessory building), zoning regulations, setbacks etc, but you're likely to glide under the radar if you don't piss anyone off.

In the past, people have tried to build small cabins well over 10 sq m without permits, etc., taking the risk if it's hidden. In some townships they are more aggressive in policing this vs others, and bear in mind that Ontario is now on a 5 year regular detailed leaf-off aerial mapping cycle, so sooner or later any building will be visible to township staff in their comfy office chairs, not (as before) only if they squelch through your beaver pond to your door.

In some townships, staff are more cooperative than others, e.g. in allowing you to call your unpermitted <10 m bunkie a residence and then permitting a larger accessory structure for it.

# Posted: 28 Jan 2020 16:00

Also look at classifying your camp as a "hunt camp." Steve_S had some good luck with this.

Some munis have no building size minimum. And many will be quite gracious in their oversight.

I know, in my case, the muni-people I've talked to have been there to help.

# Posted: 28 Jan 2020 21:44

Creeky is really varies.... many places in Ontario now you cannot build a shed or bunkie ( 100 sq. Ft and under)unless there is already a residence on the property...the shed or bunkie has to be an accessory building...cannot be a stand alone. Best to always check local regs...some are more forgiving then others.

# Posted: 28 Jan 2020 22:22 - Edited by: silverwaterlady

Since this topic is from 2011, I wonder what farfromhome untimately did?

# Posted: 4 Feb 2020 13:54

From what I have read, and am currently experiencing on Manitoulin, is this.

1) A "True" unincorporated township ( ) you can build what ever size you wish, but you still need to conform to Ontario building code (Stud size, spacing, ventilation, roofing etc etc) and septic rules (MOE specs) must be adhered too.

2) There are some exceptions for some townships that are pseudo unincorporated (Like Dawson and Robertson townships on Manitoulin) where you can technically build smaller, but need to make petition to the Manitoulin planning board to do so - It is far easier to just build the minimum floor size is 55m^2 and you are set. If I understand the instruction we have received so far is that we tell the board where the structures will be located and they approve building with a certificate of conformance (not a building permit per-se') and you build to code but inspection is not assured by the board - but maybe they will come. We are in Dawson township and have a 1/4 acre - We are just at the road access stage with MTO as our plot is just off of a right of way and we need the access to start the certificate of conformance application.

3) There are a few incorporated townships that will allow you to build "seasonal" or "Hunt camp" on lands of certain size (Some over 80acres, some over 100 etc etc) . Most of these are the same 55m^2 and specifically state the structure will be seasonal. Many do not allow acessory buildings with this arrangement so you will need to keep those (typically) under 120 sq foot. Watch Rarpery Rock on youtube for an example build in Tweed. Russel has a cool build going there.

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