This is the story of our building permit saga!
We’ve decided to record it because it’s a realistic picture of what it takes to build a house, a reminder of all that has transpired in our temporary housing situation, and how the Lord heard and answered many, many prayers.
The permit application was not as straight-forward as we anticipated. Even though our lot was zoned Residential, and the City should have been able to sign off on the build, the Conservation Authority, a separate entity, also wanted a say. Our house is being built at the top of a hill, but the property backs onto Conservation, which includes a forest with a creek running through it.
The Conservation Authority wanted us to prove that the basement would be above the water table.
The well on the property from the previous house was dry for the first 25 ft. down, but that wasn’t considered enough for them. Holes had to be dug and monitored over time. Thankfully, that all fell into place
...but then we still had to deal with the City!
Proving Land Ownership
The City wanted us to prove the lot was no longer owned by the neighbor, even though the property had already been sold once to someone else before us. Our title to the land, and all our real estate paperwork was not considered enough proof.
The City was asking the wrong question. We could prove that the land was indeed a stand alone property, and not a severance, but that would require our lawyer digging through old archives and costing us several hundred dollars.
Our builder was able to find archived aerial photos of the property from the 1950s, that showed the original house and driveway as a separate lot from the neighboring property, but that was still not sufficient. Negotiations between the City, our builder, and our lawyer kept going until a letter written by our lawyer stating that the land was indeed severed, was considered enough proof.
We reapplied for building permits for the third time, which were denied again!
This time the City told us we would need a driveway permit from the Ministry of Transportation before they could issue the building permit. Since there used to be a house on the property, and the driveway was still in existence, we thought obtaining this permit would be a piece of cake.
In fact, we ended up enlisting the help of our Member of Parliament after every other avenue was explored!
Stuck With Land We Could Not Use
The Ministry of Transportation stated that there were no more allowances for driveways in our stretch of road. Our builder argued that the driveway already existed, we just needed permission to use it. The MTO countered and said they needed legal proof of the original driveway. The problem was that decades ago, our driveway was created in a time of less government control over personal property; permits for entering your own property, with your own vehicle, were not required, but understood as a land owner’s right! We had no papers to prove its legality.
The MTO would not budge on their decision. We were stuck with land we could not use!
Our builder sought the help of our city counselor, MPP, and MP. In December, our MPP helped transfer our case to someone else in the MTO office who agreed we had the right to our own driveway, and promised to not only issue the driveway permits, but to expedite the process!
(I just want to take a minute and express our gratitude for Christian politicians who truly work hard to do the right thing and be a voice for their constituents! We will be forever grateful to our MPP who helped make the driveway happen for us. We could not have done it without his help!)
Standard time for a driveway permit is 20 days, so we figured we’d have them some time in January. Then we were told Feb. 6. February 6 came and went, and we still had no idea if the permits really would be issued at some point, or if it was all talk!
Following up with them on Feb 6., the MTO promised we’d have them the next day.
Friday came and went. Still no permits.
Monday afternoon we would have them, they said. Monday afternoon came and went. No permits.
The Best Valentine’s Day Present Ever
Our builder paid a little visit to the office on the 12th, and on Friday, February 14th, 2020 we received 2 of the 3 driveway permits! We told our builder this would go down in history as the best Valentine’s Day present ever!
The driveway permits allow us to build the driveway and reapply for the Building Permit. One more driveway permit needs to be issued after the inspection of its construction is completed.
So, when will we actually be able to get the shovel in the ground?
We have no idea, but we’re hoping it won’t take longer than it has so far. Our drawings were completed in July 2019, and we’ve been waiting for government approval to build ever since.
If you want a first hand look at the incompetence of government systems or how little they value their word, we highly recommend building a house!
Lessons In Waiting
I’d like to say that the wait has just been a test of patience, but living in a 758 sq. ft. house with 8 people has been much more than that. So much has happened while we are living here that has given us a new perspective on everything from the temporariness of earthly things, to the brevity of life, and how quickly we take for granted our health and all that will one day be no more. It has changed our plans a bit for our new house, and we would love more than anything for our new home, Lord willing, to be used for so much more than our personal satisfaction.