When looking at a property’s potential, there are 2 things you need to evaluate: The current zone and the future zone. The current zone is the classification the local municipality has given your property to determine what you can build today. The Future zone is the hidden secret that most people don’t know, and will tell you what you can build tomorrow.

The city has a plan for their growth. They have determined what areas they want more density and where they don’t. This is what the future zone represents: How your property will fits in with their future plans. If your property is in an area that has a future zone for density, it’s like the city will accept a rezoning application for a new zone code that will allow you to build more units. If you’re not in a future zone, they’re unlikely to accept that variance. It really is that simple.

Understanding the zone code and what you can build is a lot more complicated, but it’s an area our team specializes in. If you’re looking to buy holding properties, this can be a helpful hint to find properties with a greater chance at increased value. Properties that can be rezoned to higher density, or will eventually get rezoned, can have up swing in value.

There is an investment of money and time to rezone the property, and if you go through this you could sell the property for more money. If it is left the same it is only worth what it is able to do today not what it could do. This is a common mistake to land sellers that want more for the property because of its potential. Than the property sits on the market for longer than it should and you end up with less than you probably should have received in the first place.

With all that information, how do you find your current zone and future zone? Most municipalities have a mapping system. Once you find this on their website put in the property address and the current zone and future zone will come up with some other property information.

Don’t over design

I see this happen way to often, usually by new investors and consultants. They have googled or maybe even talked to some builders on cost per square foot and put that in their budgeting line and than designed the Taj Mahal!
Here is a visual this ….

And this…

Both examples do not cost the same per square foot to build. You know you would pay more for image number 2 so you can see it is worth more, but will it be enough more to pay the increase cost of construction? Sometime the answer is yes if it is a high-end neighbourhood or desirable amenities near by.

Sometimes the answer is no which is why you see a lot of developments building something more like image number one. There is a lot of variables to consider in development and with experience and the right team around you it can be calculated decision. With out the right experience is can be expensive guesses.

What is a Variance?

To put it simply, a variance is how you ask the city to break the rules! When you are developing your design and working with current zoning bylaws, but you find yourself needing a reduced set back line this is where you would want to apply for a variance. This is done with your development permit and is required to go in-front of council. You would have many discussions with your city representative that is handling your file and they will be able to advise if it is supported or not.

If the city supports your request than this is where strong public relations is important. Once it is in front of council if there are community members that do not support your request they will present their case at council. Getting the support and buy in of your neighbours and any properties effected by your development is key to getting any development permit excepted especially one with Variances.