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Pergola height restriction? (GTA)

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  • Mar 16th, 2011 11:41 am
[OP]
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Jan 27, 2008
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Toronto

Pergola height restriction? (GTA)

I am planning to build a deck with pergola in the back yard and heard that the maximum height is only 6' high (according to building code)?

That to me sounds unreasonable--that means anyone over 6' will hit their heads!

The deck would be attached to the back of my house, and would be 2' above the ground.

I've looked through some galleries of GTA deck companies who built pergolas, and am fairly certain there are pergolas over 6'.

Could anyone who knows the precise by-law point it out for me, or even to the relevant document?

TIA

EDIT: Just wanted to add that I've tried searching for the building code documents, unsuccessfully.
6 replies
Deal Guru
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Nov 21, 2009
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I went through this recently

http://www.toronto.ca/building/building_permits.htm
[QUOTE]


When is a Building Permit required?

You will need a building permit if you plan to:
Construct a new building
Any addition to an existing building
Structural alterations
Renovate, repair or add to a building
Demolish or remove all or a portion of a building
Change a building's use
Install, change, or remove partitions and load bearing walls
Make new openings for, or change the size of, doors and windows
Build a garage, balcony or deck
Excavate a basement or construct a foundation
Install or modify heating, plumbing or air-conditioning systems
Install or reconstruct chimneys or fireplaces
An accessory structure larger than 108 sq. ft. in area
A deck more than 24" above ground
A wood burning stove/fireplace installation
A basement entrance
A Second Suite
New or altered plumbing

[/QUOTE]
Deal Addict
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Mar 8, 2002
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Ottawa
I believe the 6' reference has to do with the maximum allowed height of a fence or visual barrier at the property line. Is your deck abutting the property line?

http://www.toronto.ca/building/pdf/broc ... _may08.pdf

There is nothing in the building code restricting the height of a deck. If it's designed properly with compliant railings just like any other structure, you could have it at any height. There are decks that come off the second and third storey of homes.

A pergola is usually not a structural element, so why not do it after the code required elements of the deck are completed and inspected?

Be careful if the pergola may block any of your neighbours' sightlines. The Toronto building department is very strict in this regard.
[OP]
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Jan 27, 2008
768 posts
162 upvotes
Toronto
MacGyver wrote: I believe the 6' reference has to do with the maximum allowed height of a fence or visual barrier at the property line. Is your deck abutting the property line?

http://www.toronto.ca/building/pdf/broc ... _may08.pdf

There is nothing in the building code restricting the height of a deck. If it's designed properly with compliant railings just like any other structure, you could have it at any height. There are decks that come off the second and third storey of homes.

A pergola is usually not a structural element, so why not do it after the code required elements of the deck are completed and inspected?

Be careful if the pergola may block any of your neighbours' sightlines. The Toronto building department is very strict in this regard.

I am in Markham, which may have different by-laws, or would it similar to the Toronto building code? I have to build my deck 2' off the ground, since that is the height of my back door (in fact I have to make the landing outside a bit lower to prevent melting snow from leaking into the house; the rest of the deck will be at door sill level).

One edge of my deck would run parallel to the property line of my next door neighbor, at a distance of 2 feet. Regarding the visual barrier point you made--a 6' high pergola off of a 2' deck would be 8' above the ground, which would be higher than the fence anyway. If I get an 8' pergola, it would rise 10' above ground level. I am not sure how the code would define a "sightline". Obviously it would block my neighbor's view if he wanted to look at a sharp angle (to the back yard of my other neighbor), but it wouldn't block their view 99% of the other times.
[OP]
Sr. Member
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Jan 27, 2008
768 posts
162 upvotes
Toronto
Did some more searching and came up with some stuff:

http://www.markham.ca/Markham/Departmen ... _decks.htm

At the bottom there is a PDF:

http://www.markham.ca/NR/rdonlyres/BBEB ... _14295.pdf

Not that useful though, and in some ways contradictory. At the bottom it says decks not taller than 2' are not considered decks... so that means I'm not actually building a deck?? lol

EDIT: Another thing I heard, is that once you build a deck, it counts as additional living space and your property taxes increase based on the added area of the deck. Is this true?
Deal Guru
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Nov 21, 2009
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Ticket wrote: Did some more searching and came up with some stuff:

http://www.markham.ca/Markham/Departmen ... _decks.htm

At the bottom there is a PDF:

http://www.markham.ca/NR/rdonlyres/BBEB ... _14295.pdf

Not that useful though, and in some ways contradictory. At the bottom it says decks not taller than 2' are not considered decks... so that means I'm not actually building a deck?? lol

EDIT: Another thing I heard, is that once you build a deck, it counts as additional living space and your property taxes increase based on the added area of the deck. Is this true?

I think living space needs walls
Deal Guru
User avatar
Nov 21, 2009
12732 posts
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MacGyver wrote: I believe the 6' reference has to do with the maximum allowed height of a fence or visual barrier at the property line. Is your deck abutting the property line?

http://www.toronto.ca/building/pdf/broc ... _may08.pdf

There is nothing in the building code restricting the height of a deck. If it's designed properly with compliant railings just like any other structure, you could have it at any height. There are decks that come off the second and third storey of homes.

A pergola is usually not a structural element, so why not do it after the code required elements of the deck are completed and inspected?

Be careful if the pergola may block any of your neighbours' sightlines. The Toronto building department is very strict in this regard.

so you are saying you can't even have a tree if it blocks neighbours sightlines? that does not sound right. are you sure?

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