This article provides important information on the mandatory requirements for all stand-alone garage build in the city of Toronto. Additionally, we explore the many other elements and options to consider when planing and constructing your garage. 

Standalone garage: Permit considerations

First, when planning a stand-alone garage structure in Toronto, it is important to understand what the city examiners are considering in order to issue the building permit. This includes:

  1. Footprint (length and width) – Will the size of the new garage structure conform to the allowable size for the property or is a zoning variance required from the Committee of Adjustments (COA)? For more information on the COA related to the planning and permitting for a stand alone garage in the city of Toronto, check out the this blog article here.
  2. Height – The maximum height for a stand alone garage structure in the city of Toronto 13’ 1”. Any proposed garage structure that exceeds this height will require a zoning variance from the COA.
  3. Setback – The garage structure must be a certain distance from the property line. If your proposed structure is within that specifically required setback  distance than this will require a zoning variance from the COA.
  4. Engineering – The city examiners will review the architectural plans to ensure correct foundation and structural engineering design. In certain cases the examiner will require the plans to have an engineers’s stamp in order to receive the permit.
  5. Fire code – This distance between the stand-alone garage structure and the property line will determine if the fire code will be applicable. 
    • Greater than 48” from the property line – no fire code is applicable.
    • Less than 48” more than 23.75” non-combustible exterior cladding must be installed (See cladding considerations below).
    • Less than 23.75” from the property line – non-combustible exterior cladding as well as Type X drywall with a 45mins fire rating must be installed.

IF all of the above checks out, then the City of Toronto building permit will be issued and you will be ready to commence construction. 

Standalone garage: Planning and design

Aside from the mandatory requirements to consider when planning a stand-alone garage structure, there are many discretionary options and decisions that need to be made. Many of these decisions will be impacted by the intended use for the garage. Whether you are constructing a basic unfinished garage used to park your car(s) or are looking for a sleek man cave/gear head dream garage, the options can be endless. Below are some of the options available, depending on the type of garage you are looking for: 

Design style

The design style will not only determine the look of the structure, but will impact different aspects of its function eg. Storage space. 

  1. Flat roof 
  2. Skillion or shed style 
  3. Peak roof 
  4. Mansard or dutch mansard

We prefer the flat roof or shed style design as it keeps things simple and provides maximum volume (storage space).

Exterior cladding 

This is a major decision as it is the material that will act as the primary aesthetic element as well as main element that will provide a barrier against the elements. 

  1. Brick
  2. Concrete block
  3. Precast stone veneers 
  4. Cement board
  5. Vinyl siding 
  6. Aluminum siding 
  7. Aluminum composite panel systems (ACM Panels)
  8. Stucco

We recommend either James Hardie lapsiding or board and batten, or stucco. Both of these exterior claddings provide tremendous value in terms of cost vs. Utility and aesthetic. Both are considered non combustible which is invaluable with Toronto setbacks. 

Exterior water management and flashing

Dependant on the design style, appropriate exterior water management and flashings will need to be incorporated. This is made up of either aluminum and/or steel. These come in a variety of colours and can be used to add to the overall look of the garage.


While flat roof membranes roofs are pretty straightforward, peaked roof require additional decisions to be made. Colour, quality, and material such as asphalt shingles vs. metal shingles are important options to consider. 

Flooring finish

The flooring finish will be determined by either what the end use will be, what kind of interior look is being sought, or simply cost management.

  1. Raw concrete 
  2. Polished concrete
  3. Epoxy
  4. Interior style flooring such as vinyl or rubber mats (with subfloor)

While epoxy and polished concrete floors look great and are easy to clean they come at a hefty price tag.

Interior wall finish 

This will determine if the inside of the garage is finished or unfinished. A finished space looks better and functions better, but is not necessary when parking a car.  There are a variety of different interior wall finish combinations: 

  1. Bare framed walls
  2. Insulation (batt vs. spray foam)
  3. Required Type X 45min fire rated drywall
  4. Fully finished with paint (we recommend semi-gloss or satin as it is easier to clean)
  5. Slot walls garage organizer parts and accessories.

Windows or skylights

Adding natural light and ventilation can be important elements to consider when planning and building your garage. We recommend that you should always try and incorporate a window into a garage build. 

  1. Size
  2. Location
  3. Material – vinyl, aluminum, composite or wood
  4. Operable vs. non-operable
  5. Clear vs. obscure glass


By incorporating an entry door it will allow for easier and secondary access to the garage structure. While it is not imperative to add an entry door into a garage build, it will definitely add utility and convenience.

  1. Size
  2. Location
  3. In-swing or out-swing
  4. With or without glass
  5. Single, double, or sliding entry doors
  6. Hardware – Standard or smart home hardware (deadbolt)

Garage door and garage door motor

Garage doors and mechanical garage door motors are key elements of any garage build. Depending on the location, orientation, use, and budget of the garage project, this will usually dictate what should be selected. Garage doors can play a significant role in the overall look, so this item should be carefully considered.    

  1. Size
  2. Location
  3. Steel vs composite
  4. Insulated vs. non-insulated
  5. Glass v.s no-glass (with or without grills)
  6. Flat colour vs. wood grain 
  7. Ceiling mounted vs. side mounted motor
  8. Chain drive vs. belt drive motor
  9. Standard vs. smart motor 
  10. Standard tracks vs. high lift tracks
  11. Other items including remotes, keypad, battery back up, and emergency key release.


Power is an important component of any garage build. From assisting in standard tasks like illumination and allowing the garage door motor to function to more non-standardized tasks like charging your electric car it is important to consider your electrical requirements.

  1. Service size
  2. Electrical panel
  3. Light fixtures (interior and exterior)
  4. Motion sensors
  5. Switches (standard, timer, dimmer, smart)
  6. Receptacles (outlets)
  7. Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers

Miscellaneous considerations

As previously mentioned, the options may seem endless when building a garage. Here are some other elements that can be incorporated into your new garage build. 

  1. Heaters (Electrical or gas and electrical)
  2. Other storage solutions
  3. Storage mezzanine
  4. Vehicle hoist
  5. Built-in sound system
  6. Cameras and security systems.

It is important to note that we have had a few clients request that their new garage have an alternative purpose other than housing a vehicle such as an office space or gyms. This is doable, but certain steps need to be taken to accommodate. We can always assist with this.

Whether you are looking to build a basic garage structure or make your tech-enabled garage dreams come true, we can help. Please contact us using the form below to get started.

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