Occasionally, we hear from residents who are concerned about the size of new homes relative to the original homes built in their neighbourhood. 

Our Zoning Bylaw No. 2937 regulates land use within the City – when building on your property, you must follow zoning regulations, rules that specify how properties in specific zones may be developed and used. 

Each zone in Port Moody is unique and has its own rules to regulate items such as building height, site (lot) coverage, yard setbacks, and floor area ratio (FAR), which is a measurement of a building’s floor area relative to the size of the piece of land on which it is built (calculated by dividing the total floor area by the lot area). 

The City uses the building permit review process to ensure that new homes are built in a manner that is consistent with zoning regulations. Anyone who is building a new home, renovating their current home, or adding a structure to their property needs to apply for a building permit. Our building officials work to ensure that project plans and finished structures comply with regulations for land use, zoning, and construction. 

Two recent changes to the Zoning Bylaw 

We changed the Zoning Bylaw rules for single family homes in 2015 and in 2018 in response to concerns regarding large homes.

In April 2015, after a consultation process that included public forums, an information session, and a Public Hearing, we made amendments to the 1988 Zoning Bylaw. These amendments included new grade and height calculations for RS1 (single-family residential) lots and restrictions for retaining walls on property lines in all zones. The 2015 changes were specifically aimed at the size of new houses.

Council adopted a new Zoning Bylaw in July 2018, after a comprehensive review by City staff and Council, and extensive consultation with the community. Over three years, the consultation process included several open house events and opportunities for the public to provide input, including a Public Hearing. Before finalizing the new Zoning Bylaw, City staff hosted an open house in May 2018 to receive feedback from the public and then prepared a consultation summary for Council’s consideration. Prior to this review process, the Zoning Bylaw had not undergone a comprehensive review since 1988. 

This new bylaw incorporates the amendments made in 2015, and includes further changes to address the size of single family homes. For example, the Zoning Bylaw now includes laneway homes, which can encourage people to design smaller houses so there is room on the lot for a secondary dwelling.

Comparison of zoning bylaws

Property owners must comply with the zoning regulations that are in effect when their building permit application is received by the City. This means our new Zoning Bylaw does not apply to building permit applications received prior to July 10, 2018.

Inquiries from the public about the size of a specific home often focus on permitted building height and FAR. Learn about the current regulations for building height and FAR, as well as the regulations that were in effect before July 2018. 

 2018 Zoning Bylaw
In the RS1 (single-family residential) zone, the Zoning Bylaw permits:
  • a maximum building height of 9 metres (29.5 feet) for flat roofs and 10.5 metres (34.5 feet) for sloping roofs, or three storeys, whichever is lower; and
  • a maximum FAR of 0.5, meaning the floor area of a home cannot exceed 50% of the lot area.

FAR calculations must include all floor areas (e.g. unfinished areas, cellars, mechanical rooms, washrooms, hallways, landings, stairways, storage rooms). Exemptions to the FAR calculation include required off-street parking stalls (maximum 23 square metres each) and a basement that is 60% or more below grade. The floor area of double height rooms (e.g. foyers) is counted twice in the FAR calculation.

 2015 amendments to 1988 Zoning Bylaw
On April 28, 2015, Council adopted amendments to the 1988 Zoning Bylaw to reduce the size of new houses. The amendments included:
  • a new definition of “grade” which forced houses to be built in the centre of the lot rather than the high side (which hindered views);
  • changes to how building height was measured – peaked roofs would be measured to the top of the peak rather than the mid-peak, and a reduced height (1.5 metres lower than previously permitted) was added for flat roofs; and
  • a restriction on retaining walls – they could no longer be built on interior property lines to manipulate grades to achieve a higher building height.

In the RS1 zone, the amended Zoning Bylaw permitted:

  • a maximum building height of 9 metres (29.5 feet) for flat roofs and 10.5 metres (34.5 feet) for sloping roofs, or three storeys, whichever is lower; and
  • a maximum FAR of 0.5, meaning the floor area of a home could not exceed 50% of the lot area.

Uninhabitable spaces (e.g. unfinished areas, storage rooms, mechanical rooms, washrooms) were excluded from FAR calculations.

 1988 Zoning Bylaw
In the RS1 zone, this Zoning Bylaw permitted:
  • alteration of the grades surrounding a home, which resulted in houses that were constructed on built-up grades rather than existing grades; 
  • a maximum building height of 10.5 metres to the mid-point between the peak and the eaves, or to the top of a flat roof; and
  • a maximum FAR of 0.5, meaning the floor area of a home could not exceed 50% of the lot area.

Unfinished and uninhabitable spaces (e.g. storage rooms, mechanical rooms, washrooms) were excluded from FAR calculations. 

Examples of homes that have generated recent inquiries

Each the nine homes listed below complied with the zoning regulations that were in effect when the building permit application was received. Surveys and/or inspections may not have been completed yet for homes that are still under construction. 

 Civic address Date building application received Applicable Zoning Bylaw Date building permit issued Building permit application  description Date construction completed Height FAR
823 Ioco Road Nov. 23, 2011  1988  Dec. 12, 2011  SFD* unfinished basement  Mar. 17, 2014  8.9m to mid-peak from altered grade  0.41 
647 Ioco Road Dec. 14, 2012 1988  Jan. 23, 2013  SFD w/ secondary suite  Mar. 26, 2014  10.5m to mid-peak  0.47 
1251 Ioco Road Dec. 12, 2013 1988  Jan. 13, 2014  SFD w/ unfinished basement  June 9, 2015  10.5m to mid-peak   0.44 
1244 Ioco Road Dec. 22, 2015  1988 with 2015 amendments  Feb. 24, 2016  SFD w/ unfinished basement  Jan. 26, 2018  9m flat roof  0.5 
1232 Ioco Road Dec. 22, 2015  1988 with 2015 amendments  May 10, 2016  SFD w/ secondary suite  Under construction  10.5m to highest peak  0.5
839 Ioco Road Jan. 26 2017  1988 with 2015 amendments  March 5 2018  SFD w/ Finished Basement  Under construction  9.6 m to highest peak  0.45 
1127 Ioco Road Oct. 17, 2017  1988 with 2015 amendments  Oct. 10, 2018  SFD w/ Finished Basement  Under construction  9.3m to highest peak  0.498 
591 Ioco Road Aug. 13, 2018  2018  Feb. 21, 2019  SFD w/ secondary suite  Under construction  10.m to highest peak  0.497 
15 Dowding Road Aug. 30, 2018  2018  Mar. 12, 2019  SFD w/ secondary suite  Under construction  9m flat roof  0.499 

*single-family dwelling

Visit BC Assessment’s website to find lot sizes for specific properties.