I have a 50-year-old cottage in the Kawarthas. We would like to upgrade, and possibly expand. Who should I contact to find out about building codes or other regulations? —Andrea Deason, via e-mail
You should contact your municipality’s building and planning department. Ask about setback requirements, zoning bylaws, and other factors that will affect what kinds of upgrades and expansions you’re allowed to do to your cottage. Is it okay to increase the existing footprint? Can you add a second storey? Is the current sewage system going to be adequate? What about building a bunkie on the lot? Are there any flood plain requirements for your property? Is your lake governed by a conservation authority? (And will you need its approval?) And so on, and so forth. You can also check your municipality’s website; info about local building regulations and how to apply for permits for construction and demolition is often posted there. And, of course, if you feel like reading a long legal document, the Ontario Building Code is available through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.