Here’s how long it takes to get a building permit in Vancouver

Any good Vancouver home builder will tell you that securing a building permit in the City of Vancouver can take a long time.

But how long is “long”? As a homeowner, how do you manage the time it takes to get a building permit, and what does this mean for your home construction timeline?

Here’s what you need to know about wait times for building permits in the City of Vancouver.

Which type of building permit do you need?

It can be challenging to get a building permit for your project in the City of Vancouver. But knowing which permit you’ll need is the first step to understanding the process and timeline, so you’ll have a clear picture of how long your home’s construction will take.

Like most cities, there are a number of different types of permits. The permit you need depends on the type of build. Understanding the right permit can be confusing for homeowners, which is why great Vancouver home builders can help by giving you this information before your project begins. Most companies will handle all the permits needed for your build.

Breaking down the types of permits, here have been the common wait times:

  • A simple building permit – 8 weeks or more
  • A complex building permit where a development permit is needed – up to 8 months
  • A building permit where rezoning is required – an additional 10 months on top of the 8 weeks to 8 months for the building permit
  • Builds submitted by developers – up to 2 years

All in all, Vancouver’s building permit approvals have taken longer than almost any other large Canadian city.

Why Vancouver home builders believe the wait has been so long

Vancouver home builders identify there being a lot of bureaucracy in the city’s building permit process. The process is also more complex than most cities. Add on top of that the amount of building taking place in Vancouver and it’s no wonder the system has been backlogged.   

Part of the issue has been that the system was so far behind that every new application had to go into the backlog, waiting for months or years to even be read. After that, a permit could be approved, rejected, or changes could be requested. Anytime changes are requested, the revised permit has to approved.

Vancouver home builders talk about the changes to the building permit process

As of February 2019, the City of Vancouver changed the building permit process in an attempt to streamline it. For example, the city says that building permits for single-family homes and laneway homes are now being approved in 6 weeks now… but only if you work with a “pre-approved designer”.

But what if you aren’t working with one of these designers? Overall, wait times are reportedly a third lower than just a year ago. Vancouver has also committed to training more staff who review permits. This should also speed things up.

While the situation is getting better, there is still a long way to go.

How Vancouver home builders recommend dealing with building permit delays

In the meantime, how do you handle building permit delays? Vancouver home builders make a few suggestions…

1. Apply early

As soon as you can, apply for or have your contractor apply for a building permit. That way, there is plenty of time to get permits approved before work is set to begin.

2. Make sure your application is correct

If possible, work with a contractor that handles permit applications for you as they have a level of expertise with the process. Should you be handling the permit on your own, make sure you double and triple check the application as any mistakes could lead to the permit being further delayed or rejected.  

3. Plan ahead

What happens if your application is not approved before your build is set to start? Could your contractor start later? When would your next build window be? Hopefully, your permit will be in place on time. Just in case though, by planning ahead, you don’t have to scramble down the road.

4. Never build without a permit

Given the challenges, it may be tempting to move forward without a permit. Some homeowners don’t even apply. Other homeowners apply, but if they don’t get the permit on time, start building without it. Don’t do this! If you build without a permit, you can be fined, work can be stopped, and you can even be forced to pay for any work to be removed. This can be a huge – and expensive – issue to deal with, so best to just avoid it.

If you are look for a Vancouver home builder with experience with Building Permits, get in touch with us and let’s talk about your project!


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