Adding An Accessory Building – What You Need To Know

An accessory building, also known as your dream shop, can be valuable when it’s done properly. Now that you’ve finally received permission to build it, there’s a few things you need to be aware of before you start!


First, what is an accessory building? It’s defined as ancillary and subordinate to a permitted principal use or building on the same lot. That basically means that they’re an accessory to the main building on the lot and are not meant to be another principal building. Examples of an accessory building can include a shop, greenhouse, shed, boathouse, storage building, or a private studio, among others. Any of these structures will have a specific set of guidelines to adhere to, as an accessory building. Now that you know what your dream shop really is, it’s time to go to city hall to start the permit process. In the Comox Valley, you’ll need to head to the CVRD Planning Department.


During the planning and permit process, you’ll find out the limits on your new building. Accessory buildings are limited to specific heights. In the Comox Valley, an accessory building are generally limited to 6m, measured from the average natural grade of the peak of the roof, depending on where the building is located on the land. An accessory building is also limited by setbacks on property lines. Property setbacks for the Comox Valley area can be found by using the CVRD’s iMap2.1 tool. You should then confirm the property setbacks with the planning department. You’ll also find out about your maximum lot coverage, which is a percentage stated on your zoning bylaw. Maximum lot coverage is basically just a measure of how much impervious space you can have on your lot. All of these restrictions will be important when submitting the paperwork for your accessory building, so make sure you’ve done your research and have planned accordingly. Be thorough! You don’t want your permit to be denied because of a technicality. If you need clarification, contact the planning department to confirm.


Once you’ve got the details sorted out and you’ve submitted your paperwork, you can expect approximately 3 – 5 weeks before your plan may be approved. Then you can put your plan in action and start building that shop! Accessory buildings can add really add value to your property when you sell, especially when they’re done right and permitted properly. They can also be something to consider when you’re buying too! If you aren’t buying a home with an accessory building already in place, all of these limits should be questions to think about. It will be important later if you decide to build. If you do want to construct a shop or other building on the lot later, all this information can be found during the buying process. Having this info ahead of time will prevent you from ending up with an accessory building the size of a doghouse when you do go to build it.


Have fun building your dream shop! If you are thinking about buying real estate in the Comox Valley, and you’d like to build on the lot in the future, we can help you get the information you need. If you’d like to know what your property is worth and you’re thinking of selling, we can help with that too! Contact us today!