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Zoning by-laws may seem complicated, but here is a quick discussion for how to understand which type of zoning your home is classified under and how this affects your proposed home addition or Ottawa renovation.

In Ottawa, there are 5 main residential density zones (R1 to R5) and each contains its own characteristics, set by the City of Ottawa, that determine use and purpose. If you’ve ever wondered what the city was thinking when they arranged your neighbourhood or how they aim to develop it, then visit the City of Ottawa website to view the characteristics of each zone directly: R1  R2  R3  R4  R5.

Two popular zones for home renovations and additions are R1, which deals with detached single family homes and R2, which includes semi-detached homes and detached single family homes as well.

For renovations or additions in R1 and R2, it is important to consult the measurement guidelines set by the City of Ottawa that govern lot width, height, area and setbacks. This information is available on the City of Ottawa website and is essential for understanding what is allowed for your potential renovation or addition in these zones.

Here is an example governing additions in an R1 zone with the subzone of N (remember to find your subzone using geoOttawa – it would be listed as R1N when you click ‘Get Zoning Information’).

4 Minimum rear yard setback is 25% of the lot depth which must comprise at least 25% of the area of the lot, however it may not be less than 6.0 m and need not exceed 7.5 m. Despite the foregoing, on lots with depths of 15 metres or less, the minimum rear yard setback is 4 m. Source: City of Ottawa

Now, let’s say you wanted to add an addition to your existing home in Ottawa. The above measurements would need to be respected in order to determine how large the addition can be and how close to the various lot lines it can be placed.

Luckily, with geoOttawa, we can see the visible lot lines on our property and even use the measuring tool to determine distances. Simply click ‘I want to’ at the top of the website and select ‘measure distance on the map.’ Now we can set start and end points from our existing structure to the lot line using the geoOttawa website tool to get an idea of the distances involved and how they relate to our zoning restrictions.

Being able to interpret your zoning and understand the allowed lot setbacks will give you a good base of knowledge about your specific situation before talking to professionals about your home renovation or addition plans in Ottawa.

Next week, we will continue our zoning by-laws series by discussing the heritage building protections that are found in the City of Ottawa by-laws that may affect your home renovation or addition plans in Ottawa.