In 2012, Council adopted bylaws to allow homeowners to legitimize existing floor area built without a Building Permit in detached and duplex residential buildings.
Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 199, 2012 changed the Zoning Bylaw definition of Gross Floor Area (GFA) to clarify which floor areas are excluded from the GFA calculation.
These changes include:
- Permitting a newly defined “in ground basement floor area” to be excluded from the calculation of GFA in all detached and duplex dwelling buildings within the municipality and defining the “basement floor area” exclusion as “having an elevation at least 1 metre below the average level of finished ground adjoining the exterior walls of the building, to a maximum of 125% of the floor area of the storey immediately above." Download a Dwelling Floor Area Diagram outlining areas included and excluded in GFA calculation.
- Removing the option to construct over height crawl spaces and void spaces in all buildings in the municipality. The Zoning Bylaw previously allowed over height ‘crawl spaces’ to be constructed and excluded from GFA calculations, so long as the owner registered a covenant stating that the space would not be used for any purpose.
- Permitting a GFA exclusion for exterior walls that are thicker than six inches (152 mm) in all buildings in the municipality in support of energy efficiency and conservation.
Who does the zoning amendment affect?
- The first change applies to all owners of detached and duplex dwelling buildings, which are regulated by the Zoning Bylaw. This change applies to new construction and all existing spaces in detached and duplex dwelling buildings.
- The second and third changes affect owners of all properties which include a GFA calculation as part of their zoning regulations.
How does this zoning amendment affect existing floor area built without a permit in detached and duplex dwellings?
- Homeowners can now apply to bring certain floor areas into conformance with municipal requirements without the requirement of a Rezoning Application.
- Homeowners will apply for a modified Building Permit and will require modified inspections at appropriate intervals by a municipal inspector.
How does this zoning amendment affect new builds or additions to detached and duplex dwellings?
- Homeowners will now be able to exclude a basement floor area from the GFA calculation, if it complies with the amended definition in the Zoning Bylaw. This will permit owners additional floor area on their properties without requiring Rezoning Applications.
- Homeowners will apply for a Building Permit for this space and will require regular inspections at appropriate intervals by a municipal inspector.
Land Use Contracts or Covenants
Some detached and duplex residential buildings and properties in Whistler are regulated by land use contracts or covenants. Land use contracts or covenants may be more restrictive than the Zoning Bylaw definition of GFA, making these properties ineligible for the new basement floor area exclusion.
To apply for a land use contract amendment or covenant modification to exclude basement floor area from a detached or duplex dwelling, contact the Planning Department.
Building and Plumbing Regulation Bylaw
The Building and Plumbing Regulation Amendment Bylaw No. 2007, 2013 regulates construction in Whistler. The bylaw was amended to permit homeowners to legitimize existing floor area built without a permit. It includes the creation of a process and an Occupancy Permit – Limited Building Inspections specifically for owners applying for legitimization of construction concealed without appropriate inspections.
Why should I apply for a Building Permit to legitimize existing floor area built without a permit in a detached or duplex dwelling?
Any space that has been developed without a Building Permit may present safety, liability or insurance risks. It is the responsibility of the property owner to resolve these issues.
When homeowners apply for a Building Permit and submit required building plans to legitimize floor space built without a permit, a building inspector will inspect the space for compliance with provincial and municipal regulations, including the B.C. Building Code and municipal Zoning Bylaw. The overall result will be to legitimize more useable space in a home, which may provide peace of mind for owners and add value when a property is sold.
How can I apply for a Building Permit to legitimize existing floor area built without a permit in a detached or duplex dwelling?
Download the Residential Renovation Permit Application and submit it with relevant plans to the Building Department.
Residential renovations require a permit. Learn how to apply for a Residential Renovation Permit.
Download an information sheet about legitimizing illegal spaces.
Contact the Building Department for questions about:
- The Building and Plumbing Regulation Bylaw
- British Columbia Building Code (BCBC)
- Legitimizing built floor space
- How municipal and provincial regulations affect developing new space or legitimizing existing space in your home
Contact the Planning Department for questions about:
- Official Community Plan amendments
- Zoning Bylaw amendments
- Land use contract amendments
- Variance procedures
- Covenant modifications
- Land Use Procedures and Fees Bylaw 2019, 2012
- How these procedures affect developing new uses and buildings or legitimizing existing space in your home