The builder of a new home was told that they couldn’t build two secondary suites. Nevertheless, they did so, resulting in the city placing a notice on title on the house. City of Abbotsford images

City looks for remedies after million-dollar Abbotsford home was illegally built

Deconstruction of suite one possible solution as councillor warns inaction would lead to ‘wild west’

A second secondary suite in a million-dollar Abbotsford home has resulted in a big problem after a builder ignored the city’s instructions.

When construction on the Sunnyside Street house began, its builder was told that the house was as big as legally permitted in the central Abbotsford neighbourhood where it sat. Circled in red pen on two different planning documents, city officials noted that the house was approved for the maximum possible 0.55 floor space ratio (FSR), that “no additional floor area” was allowed and that only one secondary suite was permitted. The word “no” was underlined three times.

But this July, after the home was listed for sale for $1.27 million, the city began hearing complaints that “no” didn’t mean “no” for the builder.

Inspectors found that an additional area had been enclosed, adding three bedrooms and another kitchen created to create a second secondary suite. Neither Abbotsford’s bylaws nor the province’s building code allow two secondary suites in the same home. On top of that, by enclosing the area, the home’s floor space had been expanded by 675 square feet beyond that allowed by the city’s zoning bylaw.

Those issues leave the house on the wrongside of the city’s rules, and led the city this week to issue a rare notice-on-title that will stick to the property until the issues are fixed.

That notice doesn’t have much effect beyond, potentially, reducing the home’s value on the housing market. And they aren’t intended to be punitive, but rather are to inform anyone who may purchase the building that the building is deemed to need changes to comply with local rules.

“The notice will advise future interested parties or potential buyers that there are bylaw compliance and building code compliance issues that are outstanding,” Jason Watt, the city’s director of building permits and licences, told council.

Asked by Coun. Sandy Blue about how the building can be brought in line with the city’s rules and whether deconstruction could play a role, Watt said: “Deconstruction would be one option. We are working with the owner to look at how we can resolve the matter. We are having discussions internally. Once we come to agreement as to how it can be remedied, the inspector will go out and confirm that things have been fixed and put into compliance with the zoning bylaw and the building code.”

Coun. Ross Siemens said that given the amount of infill building in the city’s central neighbourhoods, action had to be taken.

“If we do not rectify this issue, we’re going to have the wild west out there.”

RELATED: Abbotsford puts squeeze on new homes in established neighbourhoods

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