September 18, 2012
Silvana Longo asks project manager Peter Khatami of Nostco Construction about home additions. The permits, the digging and whatever else stands between you and your
vision of a larger home.
Q You have outgrown the size and function of your home but love your neighbourhood, the ideal solution is a home addition. How do you make this potentially complicated project go as smoothly as possible? Where do you start and what are the crucial check points?
A Your first stop should be to your local Municipal Building Department to obtain the zoning information that you will need in order to establish the parameters of construction. This inquiry will reveal height, depth, set-back and square footage restrictions. Design is the next step and you will need a set of construction drawings before the building department will issue the permits prior to construction. The work can begin once you have determined the labour and materials required to complete the work. Preparation is key, so ensure that you understand all of the components involved prior to commencement.
Q Since an addition involves altering the structure of your home, how do you determine which additions require permits or do all expansions require permits? How long does it typically take to obtain the necessary permits before the actual work begins on our home?
A All addition projects are required to demonstrate compliance with local zoning restrictions (Information that will be found on the construction drawings), applicable building permits (Architectural, Mechanical, Structural, etc.) and typically a clearance from the local conservation authority. Once the completed set of building permit construction drawings are filed at the building department, it takes 10 business days before the permits are issued (or denied).
Q New additions often involve words like “underpinning” to accommodate the lowering of a basement floor to increase the ceiling height, or in instances like stabilizing an existing damaged foundation. What is involved in the process as it sounds like a time-consuming undertaking?
A Underpinning is the process of extending the depth of the footing (the structural component beneath the foundation wall). The existing footings are marked and divided into two to four “cut” sections. One “cut” section at a time is excavated, allowing for the necessary “form-work” (wood bracing). Concrete is then poured beneath the footing, extending the depth to the desired grade. The concrete is then allowed to typically “cure” for a week before the excavation of the next “cut” section. The space in between the new concrete and the base of the old footing is typically filled with non-shrink grout. This process is repeated until the entire span of the footings are “underpinned.” The new basement concrete slab is then poured. Typically, the process is time consuming and hard on the back because it requires a lot of hand digging. It is possible to use a mini-excavator to assist with the digging in cases where an addition is being built in conjunction with underpinning of the existing structure. Where possible, it greatly alleviates the difficult labour of hand digging.
Peter is co-owner of Nostco Construction, a design/build, project management and contracting firm serving residential and commercial clients throughout the GTA. With more than 10 years of industry experience, Peter prides himself in working tirelessly on behalf of his clients to transform vision to successful reality on every project. nostco.com