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Factors to Consider when Building a Custom Home in Toronto

When you’re planning a custom home in Toronto, there are many things that have to be taken into consideration. Not only must you consider the design, style and cost of your custom home, but also the lot size, zoning restrictions on that lot, number of large trees on the lot, and perhaps most importantly the proximity of the lot to one of Toronto's many beautiful and protected ravines.

SevernWoods is a proud Toronto luxury custom home builder. We create residential works of art built to delight for decades to come. We’ve been building custom homes for more than 15 years. Over that time, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting many homeowners as they plan for their custom dream homes. 

Factors to Consider when Building a Custom Home in Toronto

Factors to Consider When Building a Custom Home

We are often impressed by the diligent research our clients have done before connecting with us, though we do wish more people were aware of some of the items we are about to discuss. 

What’s Your Budget?

Toronto custom home construction costs per square foot range from $400 to $600+, with basic simple designs at the lower end and Architecturally unique luxury designs at the higher end.  Understanding your budget early in the process will guide your choices during design. We break down the price per square foot in fine detail in our cost per square foot blog here to help you understand why luxury custom homes occupy the top of this price bracket for a reason. They include high-end features and finishes, custom design, and artisanship to create a premium product. 

What Are Your Priorities?

The beauty of custom homes is that you don’t need to compromise. You can have every feature on your wish list, however, it is important to know what your main goals are during design. Are you aiming to build a gathering place for the family? An airy retreat? Are you hoping to add architectural interest to your design? Is your new chef’s kitchen the focal point of the home? Your priorities drive the design conversations.

Priorities When Building a Custom Home in Toronto

Your design choices influence your cost. We delve into the factors that influence the price of a Toronto Custom home in our complimentary cost ebook here.

What’s Your Timeline?

A custom home in Toronto will take from 12 months to 24 months to build, depending on your home's size and the design's complexity. When you add in design, planning, permitting, and the waiting times in between, a custom home in Toronto can take anywhere from 24 to 47 months from your commitment to your finished product. If you don’t have this time to invest in a construction project before moving, you may need to rent or purchase an existing home and plan your custom dream home from there.

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Who are Your Construction Professionals?

Assembling the right team of design and building professionals can present a challenge to anyone planning a custom home. This can take months or happen in a matter of weeks. Not only must each professional team fit your requirements, but they must also work well together to achieve optimal custom results.


A residential architect for your custom home is an essential team member. They create the plans that become your home. Some architects provide a few pages, just enough to approve your permits. Others develop fifty or sixty pages of in-depth drawings that provide necessary construction details for your builders and allow precise planning and materials selection.


Your builder makes the biggest difference. Using a reputable construction professional is essential to building your Toronto custom home to its fullest potential. An established builder has finely-tuned processes, local insight, and existing professional connections.


Skilled tradespeople like plumbers and electricians are vital for your custom home project and are hired through your builder. They apply their trade-specific expertise to ensure your project has the most competent available professionals to build your home. Trusted trades may be invited to consult during the pre-construction process to make the most seamless plan possible.

Toronto-Specific Factors to Consider When Building a Custom Home

Finding a Lot vs. Tearing Down and Rebuilding

Prime lots in Toronto are often occupied. That doesn’t exclude them from consideration as building sites for your luxury custom home. Demolition costs less than many expect, and your building already has an available building site. We also understand the appeal of building on a fresh new lot but those are few and far between in Toronto and significant Development Fees have to be paid to build on a previously undeveloped lot.

Modern Custom Home in Toronto exterior

Toronto Zoning Regulations

Different neighbourhoods, streets and even individual lots have different zoning restrictions in Toronto. Your Architect or a private planner can research the zoning restrictions for your lot and provide recommendations on how to progress with design knowing those facts. In many instances the zoning restrictions appear very punitive to homeowners, however, there is a fair process provided by a Committee of Adjustment application where reasonable requests for minor variances to zoning restrictions are usually approved. 

Impact From Trees

Many homeowners are unaware that some trees on Toronto lots cannot be removed without permission. You will need a permit to remove your tree if:

  1. The tree is a street tree of any size.

  2. The tree is on your property and has a diameter of 30cm or more. 

  3. The tree (or other vegetation) is regulated under the Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law. Head here to find out if your tree is in a legally protected space.

Note that the process and paperwork for securing a permit to injure a tree during construction differ slightly from petitioning for its complete removal. 

If you’re looking for design inspiration for your Toronto home, we invite you to peruse our extensive portfolio. SevernWoods has been building beautiful custom homes in Toronto for over fifteen years. We’d be delighted to connect with you about your custom home dreams.

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