As we approach the warmer months here in Calgary, you may be thinking about tackling that summer project in the backyard. Whether it’s a deck, fence, or planter boxes, we recommend checking the city’s current bylaws and regulations to avoid any problems when it comes time to sell your home.
You may be planning to stay in your home a long time, but someday you will sell it. And when you do, you need to provide a Real Property Report (RPR) to the buyer with evidence of municipal compliance.
Your garden boxes or privacy fencing might only cost you a couple hundred dollars in materials to build, but if you put them in the wrong place, it could cost you $500-$1,000 for a new RPR as well as potential fees with the city if you need to apply for a relaxation.
Please note RPRs are required for the sale of single-family homes or bare-land condos only, not conventional condos. All apartment condos and most townhomes will not require an RPR.
An RPR is a legal document that clearly illustrates the position of the building in relation to the property lines and municipal bylaws – i.e. a survey. It shows the house, fencing, sheds, air conditioners, hot tubs, retaining walls, gazebos, pergolas, etc.
When selling your home, we recommend ordering an RPR document as early as possible – ideally a few weeks before listing. If you ask any real estate lawyer, they will tell you that RPRs are the most common source of delays and problems at closing! This is often because an RPR isn’t completed until after the house is sold and then an issue is identified, requiring some type of relaxation or change. In this case, the lawyer often holds back $5,000 or more from the proceeds of the sale until the issue is resolved.
To order an RPR, you can visit Arc Surveys or any other survey company in town.
Understanding where your property line is can save you money and a headache later on when it comes to adding a fence or retaining wall. The best option for locating the property line is to call a surveyor and have them come out and mark the property line. You can also utilize an updated RPR as this will give you specific measurements if you want to locate the line yourself.
It is important to follow the city’s guidelines to avoid fees, having to remove the fence or even neighbour disputes. Building a fence into city property is a common thing we see on RPRs and can cause complications when it comes time to sell the property.
Here are a few of the most common regulations for fences:
- Fences cannot exceed a height of 2m in the backyard.
- Fences cannot exceed a height of 1.2m in the front yard.
- Fence height at the front of a corner lot cannot exceed a height of 0.75m.
- Gates cannot exceed a height of 2.5m.
Decks and Patios:
A deck is considered to be anything 0.65m or higher and a patio is 0.64m or lower. Patios do not have any setbacks.
Here are some of the setbacks for uncovered decks:
- Must be at least 6m from the rear property line
- Must be 1.2m from the sideyard
- The maximum height is 1.45m unless the home has a walkout basement.
Things get a bit more complicated when it comes to covered decks. Covered decks must be 7.5m from the rear yard and may be considered an addition which means you will need a development permit.
Garages and Sheds:
When building a garage or shed greater than 10m2 you will need a building permit. The location of the structure plays an important role in the setbacks you must follow and the type of permit you need. If the structure does not fall under these setbacks you will need a development permit.
- The structure must be 0.6m from the side or rear yard
- The structure must be 1.0m from the main residence
In addition, according to your land use district or zoning, the total lot coverage must be under a certain percentage. For example, R-C1 allows for maximum lot coverage of 45 percent.
Many properties in Calgary have drainage swales along the rear property line and we often see people put sheds or planter boxes right up to these swales – however there is a right-of-way that extends beyond the swale. In many cases, the city will grant a relaxation for you to keep the structure where it is, however this is not guaranteed and does come with fees.
Another common misconception is that your property goes right to the front street. In areas with sidewalks, your property line actually starts behind the sidewalk, sometimes 1 metre or more behind – even though you are still responsible for shovelling and mowing everything in front of your house, all the way to the street! So if you build a front fence right to the sidewalk, you are most likely building it on city property and will either need a relaxation or need to remove it.
Please note the setbacks & rules listed above are for the City of Calgary. If you live outside the city, be sure to check your own municipality’s regulations as places like Rocky View County and Foothills County may have different rules.
Oh, and before taking on any project yourself, remember to Click Before You Dig to locate all utility lines. Speak with those utility companies to learn the dos and don’ts of building around their lines.
If you have any questions regarding RPRs, permits, bylaws, etc. please give us a shout!
– Parker and Amie