Residential Infill: Good Neighbour Guide
Cities such as Hamilton are in a constant state of change. Some of this change is focused in Hamilton’s residential neighbourhoods, where people demolish and build, build on an existing vacant lot, or renovate older houses. The City of Hamilton calls this process of building and renovating in established neighbourhoods ‘residential infill’.
This guide is intended for property owners, builders, and contractors starting a construction project in an established neighbourhood, and for area residents. The guide outlines requirements and best practices for residential infill construction, as well as communication tips to help everyone involved move smoothly through the project. The guide is not intended to anticipate or solve all issues that may arise, but provides some guidance and contact information to assist, whether you are a property owner, builder/contractor or community member/neighbour.
Residential infill can contribute to the health, vitality, and value of neighbourhoods, including improving property values. Residential infill also contributes to the protection of green space, farmland, forests, wetlands, and watersheds in Ontario’s greenbelt. Instead of building out, the city is building up and intensifying.
However, construction can also result in negative impacts on neighbours and the community. If the project is not well planned, managed, or communicated, construction can be disruptive and damaging. Property owners are to ensure that new home builders are reputable and registered with Tarion.
Builders earn the trust and respect of neighbours by observing all by-laws and by taking steps to minimize the potentially negative impacts of construction.
Communicating with neighbours
Informed neighbours are more likely to be understanding and supportive of your project.
As a property owner, it is important to:
- Communicate with your neighbours before applying for a building permit. Speak with your neighbours in person about your proposed plans early in the process. Explain the work you want to undertake, the expected timelines, and how the proposed work might impact them.
- Provide neighbours with contact information if issues arise. Create a plan with your neighbours for resolving issues. For example, who should be called for immediate action? Who should be called for less urgent, ongoing issues?
- Post your building permits in a prominent area on your property at all times until the project has been completed. Starting April 1, 2022, By-law 21-207 (PDF, 141 KB) requires a sign to be posted near or at the front of the property line with key project information.
Are you a neighbour with construction nearby? Private information such as approved drawings and/or inspection notes are only available to the property owner or authorized agent. If you are seeking more information about nearby construction, review the posted sign for contacts. If a sign is not posted, notify the Building Division at 905-546-2720 or [email protected].
Permits and approvals
- Building Permit: In order to receive a building permit for demolition, construction or renovation work, the proposed plans must comply with applicable laws and regulations, such as the Zoning By-law and the Ontario Building Code.
Apart from the building permit, these approvals may also be required from the City and/or other regulatory agencies. Work with your builder, architect, and other professionals involved in the project, to ensure that you have identified all applicable permits and approvals:
- Committee of Adjustment: Compliance with the Zoning By-law may require a minor variance from the Committee of Adjustment (COA). Whenever changes are made to a particular site and any of the zoning regulations are not complied with, you will need a minor variance or amendment to the by-law to legalize the situation. The variance can relate to the land, building or structure or its use. Once you apply for a COA you are required to post a sign on the property.
- Site Plan Approval: A Site Plan Approval is required for most developments including major building renovations or additions. This ensures the City’s design requirements (site layout, street widening, parking, drainage and landscaping) are met, improving the quality and appearance of the development.
- Conservation Authorities: Where a property is located within an area regulated by a conservation authority, any development and/or site alteration is subject to Ontario Regulation 166/06 and requires approval from the applicable conservation authority before a building permit can be issued. Contact the appropriate Conservation Authority for more information: Hamilton Region 905-525-2181 | Halton Region 905-336-1158 | Grand River 519-621-2761 | Niagara Peninsula 905-788-3135
- Niagara Escarpment Commission: Niagara Escarpment landowners are required to obtain a development permit from the Niagara Escarpment Commission for certain types of development.
- Heritage Permit: Under the Ontario Heritage Act, both demolition of, and alterations to, a building or structure located on an individually designated heritage property or within a Heritage Conservation District require approval from the City before a building permit can be issued. Demolitions are subject to additional application and notice requirements. Learn more about Heritage Permits
- Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA), Core Areas, Ravine & Natural Feature Protection: There are environmental concerns you need to be aware of if your property is located in an ESA. Natural features including Core Areas, wetlands, woodlands, and streams, are protected by the City of Hamilton, Conservation Authorities, and the Province of Ontario.
- Trees on public property (streets and parks): Trees on public property are protected by By-law 15-125, learn more about City trees.
- Trees on private property: Trees on private property may be protected by tree protection by-laws, learn more about private trees
- Site Alteration: The Site Alteration By-law applies to all land within the City of Hamilton in respect of: excavating, depositing or stockpiling fill or topsoil; removing topsoil; and altering the grade of land. Learn more about Site Alteration Permits
- Lane & Sidewalk Occupany Permit: A Lane & Sidewalk Occupancy Permit is required if any portion of the sidewalk or street is to be occupied.
- Encroachment Agreements: An encroachment agreement is a legal and binding agreement between the City and a property owner whose property abuts the municipal property
which permits the property owner to have an encroachment on City property. Learn more about encroachments onto City property.
- Driveway Access: A Residential Driveway Access Permit is required for a new or widened driveway approach.
How to avoid common compliants and issues
Understanding City by-laws and getting ahead of issues before they become problems for you and neighbouring residents can avoid complaints and possible fines.
- Cut concrete and stone with wet saws to reduce airborne dust.
- Sweep the sidewalk and street daily to prevent dust from blowing or washing away overnight.
- Take measures to contain dust from watercourses and stormwater drainage systems, e.g. a fence filter.
- If planned work will be particularly dusty for lengthy periods of time, notify neighbours to provide them with the opportunity to close their windows.
Dirt on sidewalk/street
- Remove tracked dirt/mud tracked from the sidewalk and street daily. Hose down trucks before they the site, and immediately sweep or hose down any sidewalk/road that has substantial dirt/mud build-up.
- Mud tracking is investigated by Licensing & Bylaw Services and may be subject to fines and court action.
Parking & material storage on sidewalk/street
- Hamilton has several by-laws that provide safe streets and better pedestrian/traffic flow throughout the City. You are to be familiar with the by-laws to understand your responsibilities and avoid getting a ticket. Read about Hamilton’s On-Street Parking By-law
- Park vehicles in legal parking spots, and/or have the appropriate permits for occupying space on the street, as regulated by the Streets By-law, Parking–On-Street By-law, and Traffic By-law.
- Ensure vehicles and materials are not blocking private driveways or public sidewalks.
- Parking on one side of the street minimizes the impact on traffic.
- Turn off vehicle engines. The Anti-Idling By-law prohibits running vehicle engines while parked for more than three minutes.
- Share a construction management plan with neighbours. The plan should identify where you are storing construction vehicles and materials. When possible, ask for neighbours’ input on preferred storage and parking locations
- Hamilton’s Noise By-law applies to all types of noise, including construction noise. Any construction or operation of equipment generating noise in residential areas is permitted ONLY 7 am to 10 pm. This includes truck back-up beeps, as well as loading and unloading equipment/materials.
- During the hours that noise is permitted, take steps to keep noise levels as low as possible (e.g. be mindful of music levels, language/ shouting, equipment noise).
- Noise is any sound likely to disturb others from a point of reception off of the property. If you can hear it off of your property (e.g on the sidewalk, neighbouring properties), it may be deemed likely to disturb. You can apply for a Construction Noise Exemption Permit through [email protected]
- Enclose the construction site with protective fencing to restrict access as mandated by Hamilton’s Building By-law. The construction fence must follow the standards provided in the by-law. Protective fencing must be in place before demolition begins.
- Construction project safety is regulated and enforced by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour. The Occupational Health and Safety Act outlines the requirements for workers and work sites.
- When hiring a builder/contractor, make sure they are licensed as required by Hamilton’s Licensing By-law. Contact Licensing & By-law Services at 905-546-2782 for more information.
- Within 24 hours of a snowfall, clear ice/snow from the sidewalks adjacent construction. Hamilton’s Snow and Ice Removal By-law applies during construction activity.
- Handle asbestos and lead in accordance with Ontario’s Designated Substance Regulation (O. Reg. 490/09). Additional information is provided in “A Guide to the Regulation Respecting Asbestos on Construction Projects and in Buildings and Repair Operations”, and “Lead on Construction Projects”, available through Ontario’s Ministry of Labour.
- Do not harm existing neighbourhood services. Contact your local utilities to locate underground services before you start digging. Contact Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255.
- If you are working near overhead power lines, you must call Hydro One or Alectra Utilities to have your lines de-energized, relocated/ removed, or covered.
- Do not leave dangerous building materials, equipment, or vehicles on the site unattended.
- Design construction projects with tree protection in mind to help sustain the city’s urban forest.
- If construction equipment or debris gets close to a tree, or if a structure is built near a tree, it may cause injury to the trunk, crown, and roots of the tree.
- Hamilton’s Tree Protection Guidelines provide guidance, advice and direction for landowners and developers on how to inventory trees on a proposed development site and prepare a Tree Protection Plan. The Guidelines apply to privately-owned lands subject to Planning Act approvals, and/or Niagara Escarpment Plan permit.
Concerns about property lines
- The location and verification of property lines is a civil matter to be addressed and resolved between neighbours.
- Confirm if your land is subject to any public or private easements. An easement is a “right of use” of property by someone other than the property owner or occupier for a specific purpose. For example, maintenance easements, water drainage or buried infrastructure, pipes, or wires. Easements may be privately acquired, for example, in the case of mutual driveways. Find the information on the deed of ownership or the survey of property. Contact the Land Registry Office (Ontario’s Ministry of Government Services) at 905-521-7561 to view these. In order to build on land which is subject to an easement, consent from the holder of the easement is required. This is a separate and distinct approval from the issuance of a building permit.
- Protect your neighbours’ property, trees and plants. Make sure construction operations and trucks are kept away from your neighbours’ landscaping. If damage does occur, inform your neighbour immediately and remedy all damages within a reasonable period.
- Where construction is occurring on one property and an adjacent property owner believes their property is incurring damage because of that construction (e.g. due to vibration), it is considered a civil matter. The afflicted property owner is advised to document the damage and contact their insurance company and lawyer.
Grading, drainage and site alteration
- Prevent rainwater and runoff from pooling against your house and any neighbouring houses to avoid flooding, foundation damage, and mould.
- When undertaking landscaping or construction, do not alter the grading and/or drainage of the property/site unless it has been approved by the CIty.
Waste & site organization
- Do not litter your neighbours’ property with garbage or construction and renovation waste. Clean the site daily.
- Place construction and renovation waste dumpsters in locations that will minimize impact on neighbours (e.g. away from their homes, not blocking driveways).
- Do not use City-issued waste bins (garbage, Blue Bin, Green Bin) to dispose of construction and renovation waste.
- The City will not collect construction and renovation waste from the property. Visit the Waste Directory for Businesses for options on how to dispose of this material. Remove this waste from the site on a regular basis.
- Do not burn waste.
- When selecting where to put portable toilets, take steps to minimize the impact they can have on neighbours (i.e. sight and smell).
Water & wastewater management
- Runoff water from construction sites is a major source of water pollution. Runoff water contains contaminants that degrade water quality in streams, wetlands and ground water.
- The Federal Fisheries Act prohibits the deposit or release of sediments to waters.
- Hamilton’s Sewer Use By-law also limits the discharge or deposit of matter to the City’s storm sewer system.
Who can help?
You have tried talking to the property owner and builder, but you cannot reach them or the issues are not resolved. Who to contact for assistance:
Licensing & By-law Services Division
Provide as much information as you can, including:
||Ontario’s Ministry of Labour
Email: [email protected]
||Growth Management Division
Phone: 905-546-2424, ext. 5339
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
- Date modified: