Well this is the million dollar question. Just when it seems you have it figured out the rules and requirements change. So how do you work with the City Planning Officials?

1) Before I start any project in the City limits, I will phone the local building department, give them the address and a quick scope of the project. I do this because the same lot can have multiple uses and the requirements the City would have will vary depending on the scope. Example a single family home vs. a apartment. Most clerks on the phone will email me the requirements needed for that project.

2) Make sure you know the zoning of your property. This is available online at the City’s web site. This is important to ensure the project you want to build is indeed allowed on your site.

3) I will now do the house plans and floor plan drawings in accord to the list of requirements. Make sure the drawings are done thoroughly and all of the information required in on the plans. The site plan and landscaping plan are absolutely the most important, make sure they are complete and all of the calculations accurate.

4) Once the plans are done it is time to submit them for a development permit. Sometimes color photo’s and a block plan will need to be submitted as well. Please remember and this is so hard for first timers to understand, YOU WILL NEVER GET THE DRAWINGS THROUGH ON THE FIRST SUBMISSION. Unless it is a simple addition or renovation submission. I have discussed this with numerous designers in the Calgary area and they all say the same thing. You can have the most complete accurate drawings and the planner will come back with revisions not on the requirement lists. so BE PATIENT it is a process. It can take as many as 4 resubmissions although 2 generally is what is needed.

5) Work through the revisions, depending on how well your designer did the first time will determine how many revisions there are, so make sure you hire a designer with experience. If there is something the City is asking you to do that you don’t understand just ask them. Don’t forget that the person doing the review is not the person who set the guidelines so you can sometimes reason with them. Always be professional and not confrontational. They may agree with you or they may not. You can dispute all decisions made by the City, however this is again a process that may delay your project. If it is important to you then dispute it.

6) Once the revisions are done resubmit and when all is good the City will issue the development permit. Form there you are able to complete the working drawings and submit for a building permit. This is a lot easier than the development permit. You may need engineers letters or stamps etc. The City should out line this in the Development permit letter.

7) Submit for Building permit.

8) Build your project.

In the City of Calgary there are areas called “established communities” these are older areas that were developed many many years ago and are usually closer to the City center. These areas require a lot more work upfront on the development permit drawings and will require you to hire a surveyor to go to your property to survey your lot and the adjacent lots for a “block plan”.

Be prepared for a process, be patient, the minimum time you are looking at is 8 weeks once it has been submitted the first time. When the City is busy it can be a lot longer. If you know you are going to build in May, start in November getting your drawings ready so you are not behind right away.

And remember always work with a professional who has experience.