Archive for the ‘Bylaws’ Category

No Permits or RPR? How to Sell Your Spruce Grove Home When Something’s Missing

Friday, October 10th, 2014

No Permits or RPR?  How to Sell Your Spruce Grove Home When Something’s Missing | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamSelling your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the Edmonton area or elsewhere is stressful enough, but what happens if you’re missing some critical documentation about the property?

“What documents should I have for my property?”

• If you own your home with or without a mortgage, you’ll have a Title Certificate showing this information. Service Alberta is the source for information about land titles in Alberta. Your REALTOR® will order your property title certificate as part of the process to list your property for sale.
• Most municipalities require building and development permits for a wide variety of activities on a piece of property. Please read my post entitled “Just Because You Own Your Spruce Grove House Doesn’t Mean You Can Do Whatever You Want!” for information about permits in the City of Spruce Grove.
• Another document you’ll need is a Real Property Report, or RPR, which is basically a survey of your property showing the property boundaries and the location of all the structures built upon it. Purchase Contracts in Alberta have a clause requiring a seller to provide a current Real Property Report showing the current state of improvements with evidence of compliance or non-compliance with municipal guidelines. Please read the City of Spruce Grove’s webpage on Compliance Requests.  Here you’ll find the procedure for applying for a new Real Property Report, followed by seeking compliance from the City.

“I’m planning to sell my home and I know I don’t have permits for my basement development, my garden shed or hot tub. Why would this be a problem?”

From a buyer’s perspective, missing permits might indicate something defective about the property. This could mean your property takes longer to sell and for a lower price. Even worse is that the City could force homeowners who are missing permits to tear out the development and start over with the proper permits in place. (This rarely happens, unless the situation is a clear public safety issue or an overt violation of city bylaws impacting properties beyond yours.)

If you know you’re missing permits, it might be in your best interest to contact the City and apply for new permits before you apply for a new Real Property Report. That way, you’re much more likely to receive full compliance from the City. Full compliance means that everything on your property meets current standards – and potential buyers may be more willing to offer the best price.

***HOWEVERThere may be times when applying for missing permits is not a good idea!*** Let’s say you own an older home in Spruce Grove. You had your basement professionally developed 25 years ago and you’re pretty sure no permits were issued. If you were to apply for permits now, the building inspectors might need to tear into your walls to see that the gas, electrical and plumbing installations were done correctly. If that isn’t bad enough, the work must conform to today’s building and safety codes, not those of 25 years ago, in order for it to pass inspection.

Applying for a new RPR and then getting a letter from the City indicating some issues of non-conformance to current standards do not necessarily mean a big problem. Most of the time those issues won’t require you to take any action unless you decide to upgrade. For example, it may be that your deck is too close to the property line. You will likely be allowed to live with this situation until or unless you (or subsequent owners) decide to rebuild or modify the deck. Any renovations will have to comply with current standards. (A more serious situation occurs when the letter states that deficiencies must be corrected within a certain time frame, meaning expense and inconvenience for you as the owner.) The real problem for sellers is that many buyers see non-conformance as a red flag.

“Okay, this isn’t looking good! Am I going to be unable to sell my property?”

Luckily, not having the proper permits or compliance doesn’t mean you won’t be able to sell your home; it just means greater cooperation may be needed among all parties involved in the sale, and your REALTOR® can help with that!

  • No permits?

Consider the situation. Would new permits be an easy fix, or would this mean greater disruption, hassle, time and expense than anyone cares to deal with? It might be best to admit the error to potential buyers and request that they accept an existing RPR with compliance (or non-compliance). In addition, you would offer to fund Title Insurance for the buyers. (Please see my blog article entitled “RPR or Title Insurance?”)  Be aware that it may be difficult to get some buyers to agree to this arrangement, and that may mean a longer wait to find buyers for your property. Your REALTOR® can advise you.

  • No up-to-date RPR?

Again, get advice from your REALTOR®. The best action may be to follow the procedures as per the City’s webpage on Compliance Requests: order and pay for a new RPR. Or, your REALTOR® may suggest other options, especially if you know your property will not conform to the standards. (For example, you could offer to supply an old survey of the property together with Title Insurance).

  • Received a letter from the City of Spruce Grove indicating some level of non-conformance?

• If the letter says things must be fixed, fix them!
• If the letter simply points out the issues but doesn’t require repairs, you might want to correct them anyway, if the problems are easy fixes, because your house is likely to be an easier sell, and at a better price.
• “Non-conforming” items on your property that aren’t easy fixes? One solution to the problem of lack of compliance that your REALTOR® might be able to provide is to “write around” an issue. For example, if a garden shed is too close to the edge of the property and it would be more trouble than it’s worth to move it (and the City has indicated the non-conformance can stay as is), a clause can be inserted into the Purchase Contract stating that the buyer agrees to accept the shed in its current location. Your REALTOR® may also recommend that you offer to fund Title Insurance for the buyer.

Of course, these solutions require potential buyers to agree to a situation that may be less than ideal or optimal, but at least you won’t be stuck unable to sell your property.

Questions about RPRs, compliance, title insurance, or building permits? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Just Because You Own Your Spruce Grove House Doesn’t Mean You Can Do Whatever You Want!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Just Because You Own Your Spruce Grove House Doesn’t Mean You Can Do Whatever You Want! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamSometimes it comes as a surprise to people living in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County, the city of Edmonton or any other Alberta municipality that there are strict rules as to what they can and can’t do or build on their property. This surprise can be especially rude when it comes time to sell a property and the owners discover that they were supposed to have permits for certain things.

“Why would a municipality care about what goes on inside private property? Aren’t all those permits just a cash grab?”

The City of Spruce Grove’s webpage dealing with building and development permits says this:

“Building Permits deal with structural stability of buildings and the health and safety of the building’s occupants. Development Permits deal primarily with a development’s impact on surrounding properties.”

Permits help a municipality ensure that all structures and activities within municipal limits meet the standards for health and safety of people and the environment. Yes, there is a cost for the processing of permits, but wise homeowners should see this cost as a good investment for the future and insurance that their home and property are secure.

“What sorts of things require permits?”

The City of Spruce Grove’s webpage on building permits has a long list of things requiring permits, along with the cost of the permits, for items inside your home and on the piece of land your home occupies. Some common interior items include

• developing and finishing a basement
• installing a wood-burning stove or fireplace
• installing, replacing or altering materials or equipment regulated by the Alberta Building Code (such as replacing a furnace).

Outside your home, you’ll need a permit to

• add a deck that is higher than 2 feet above the ground
• cover an existing deck
• install a hot tub or swimming pool
• construct any building on your property, such as a detached garage or shed.

These permits not only specify the safety measures to be followed but also mandate the distance structures must be from property boundaries and rights of way. Demolitions may require permits too.

If you want a firepit on your property, you’ll need a fire permit.  You may also need permits for gas installations, electrical installations, plumbing installations, and lot grading.  Please see the City’s webpage for the complete list of items requiring permits.

***If you are unsure about whether you need a permit or not, contact the City’s Planning and Development Department and ASK! Do this BEFORE you begin the work!***

“What happens if I want to sell my house and I don’t have the proper permits?”

For the answer to this question, see my blog post entitled “No Permits or RPR? How to Sell Your Spruce Grove Home When Something’s Missing”.

Questions about  building permits, RPRs, compliance, or title insurance? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

 

Noisy Neighbours? How to Raise a Noise Complaint in Edmonton

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Noisy Neighbours_ How to Raise a Noise Complaint in Edmonton | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamDespite the fact that Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region as a whole tend to be quiet, situations may still arise where a neighbour is making too much noise. Depending on the circumstances, there are a variety of ways to take action. Here are a few points to consider when you need to raise a noise complaint in Edmonton.

Try Communicating Before Calling the Authorities

There’s a chance your neighbours don’t realize that they’re making too much noise and will reduce the commotion when you open a dialogue with them. A brief, friendly exchange of honest words can do wonders for these types of situations, leading to an understanding that allows both households to enjoy their space. Most of the time, all that needs to happen is a small alteration in noise-making habits, such as reducing the output of a sub-woofer to acceptable levels or agreeing on specific times to allow loud activities. There may be issues with thin floors or walls that make it impossible to prevent the sounds of footsteps and other normal behaviour. Sometimes tenants may have hearing problems, resulting in your neighbour not having the ability to detect abnormal noise levels. If you are uncomfortable with contacting your neighbour face-to-face, leaving a brief, well-intentioned letter is also acceptable.

Ask for Help If the Situation Becomes Difficult

Stony Plain real estate, Parkland County real estate and Spruce Grove real estate are located in safe communities. Nonetheless, there are situations where it’s best to contact the authorities instead of putting yourself in a potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situation. The first person to contact is a landlord or a homeowner’s association who can act as an intermediary that assures your anonymity. If this doesn’t work, you can contact the city of Edmonton by dialing 311 or 780-442-5311 or by faxing 780-442-5311. Pursuing this action should only be taken in the most serious circumstances, when other avenues of fixing the situation have failed.

Know Your Rights Before Launching a Serious Complaint

If the situation with noisy neighbours gets worse, it’s a good idea to know the legal details of noise complaints. Different types of Edmonton acreages and Parkland County acreages have specific standards of noise allowance. Residential noise standards are stricter than non-residential noise limits. Between 10p.m. and 7a.m., the amount of noise that a residence or a business can legally generate is typically limited to 50 decibels in residential zones and 75 decibels in commercial areas. During the daytime, the limits are more flexible, allowing for noise up to 85 decibels for brief periods of time. Sometimes, permits are granted to authorize sound in excess of normal limits. When filing a complaint, a landlord or employee of the city may need proof of these levels of noise in order to be able to act. Noise complaints can result in serious consequences, due to legal ramifications written into many leases that result in eviction, fines and bills.

When it comes to noise pollution, it’s important to know your rights and stand up for them. Having a quick chat to reach a mutually beneficial agreement can solve most issues quickly and cordially. If the situation becomes difficult, dangerous or uncomfortable, seek help to solve the issue anonymously and dispassionately.

Feel free to contact me if you seek information about noise or other home-related problems. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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