How Can They Put Up Such A Large House?

One of the questions that the association often hears relates to the size of houses that are being built in Gordon Head. Often these concerns are a matter of perception and a comparison of the new home to others nearby, or with the older home that was on the lot before.

We will attempt to explain this complex technical issue in simple terms. Any resident having questions can contact the Association at:

Before construction starts, the contractor must have a building permit approved by the Saanich Planning Department. At the time that the permit is given, and during construction, Saanich officials check to ensure that the size and location of the home meets all the requirements of the zoning bylaw and that it is being constructed in accordance with the permit.

What surprizes many people is what is permitted under the bylaw.

The Saanich Zoning Bylaw sets out rules for what may be built and how land may be used. Residential lots are zoned according to size. RS1 is the smallest and RS18 is the largest. You can see the zones in your neighbourhood by using the maps on the Saanich Website:

The older homes in Gordon Head are mainly, smaller homes (about 1200 sq. ft. on the main floor with a similar size basement). These 3 bedroom houses were placed on lots 6000 to 8000 sq. ft. in area. Typically they did not have a height of more than 2 floors above the ground. Garden sheds or garages were usually the only other buildings on the lot.

The newer homes are being built to maximize the use of what has become very expensive land. On an RS6 zoned lot of 6500 ft2, the owner could build a home with 2 floors of 1300 ft2 with a basement of a similar size at least 5 ft. below ground. The larger the lot, the larger the new home will be. Many of the lots in Gordon Head are zoned RS8, (more than 7158 ft2) or RS12 (more than 10010 ft2). Lots along the waterfront tend to be considerably larger than that.

In addition, we are seeing that most new homes have large auxiliary buildings constructed as part of the permit. These seem to have a variety of purposes but must not be used for sleeping accommodation. However, Saanich is looking at removing this rule.

Building Height.

Older homes in Gordon Head usually have gently sloping or flat roofs. Newer homes tend to have steeply sloping rooflines. For these newer houses, the maximum height is 24.6 ft. measured to the mid-point of the roof. The actual peak of the roof is much higher giving an impression of a much taller structure. Auxiliary buildings have a height limit of 12.3 ft. no matter the shape of the roof.

Occasionally, an error is made in calculating the size, height or position of a structure. In that case, the owner may apply to the Saanich Board of Variance for a minor exception to the bylaw.

To answer the original question, if a new building is being constructed in Saanich, you can be certain that it complies with the rules.