A Few Key Considerations Before Starting A New Outbuilding

Whether you're looking into building a small storage shed, a detached garage, or a full guesthouse, planning new construction can be intimidating. But if you want to avoid headaches down the road, there are a few things that you should be sure to consider before you get started.

Land Survey

You may think you know exactly where your property begins and ends, but for a permanent structure, it's crucial to be sure. A building that extends onto land that you don't own may need to be torn down and rebuilt. Beyond that, it's also important to know whether there are any areas on your property that can't be built on for boundary reasons – for instance, if a utility right-of-way extends across part of your property.

Building Permits

Whether you need a building permit will depend on the size and type of structure you want to build and your provincial or municipal laws. General official information about building codes, as well as the ability to purchase copies of some of them, is available from the National Research Council's Canadian Codes Centre. Most public libraries, however, will have a copy available for you to look at free of charge, so check there first.


In addition to governing whether you need a permit or not, municipal and provincial regulations will affect how you are allowed to use your land. For example, many residential properties will have a limit on how many "dwelling units" can be built on a single property. If you're building a shed, this is no problem, but for a guesthouse or a garage with an attached apartment, you'll need to be clear on the rules.

There may also be zoning rules about where buildings can be placed on your property and how tall they can be. With your survey plan, you'll know where the boundaries of your land are – knowing the zoning rules means knowing how far back from those boundaries you are allowed to build.

General Contractors

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, consider whether a general contractor would be helpful. Make a list of the people you will need, such as a builder, plumber, or electrician. Will you need people with specific expertise in flooring and roofing? Or are you simply setting up a prefab construction?

The more people and complexity your project will involve, the easier it will be for you if you have a general contractor (such as one from Antham Construction Group Inc) to oversee and manage the project. They can also save you the trouble of dealing with bureaucracy and regulations yourself – which can be a big plus depending on your patience.