Development Checklist for Affordable Housing

  1. Getting started
  2. Feasibility
  3. Pre-development
  4. Construction and management

Phase 3 – Pre-development

Using the tools you developed in Phase 2, you are in a position to secure commitments from lenders, government, and builders.

Secure funding

Almost all housing developments depend on loans from outside sources. For affordable housing, the sources tend to be more creative – including private donations, in-kind contributions, labour, and sharing space or services with stakeholders who share your vision. These groups include individuals, corporations, and faith-based or community organizations. Incentives or grants for affordable housing are also available through different levels of government. Your project may qualify for Seed Funding. Provinces and territories also have programs available to developers – some funded through the national Investment in Affordable Housing. Municipalities sometimes waive fees or taxes on developments that meet community priorities.

To avoid unexpected debt, or even holding up construction, it is essential to get written confirmation from all funding sources before development begins.

Design the building

Your business plan should already provide a general idea of what the finished development will look like. Now it is time to turn that idea into a detailed design.

Consult with the technical experts you identified in Phase 1 to ensure your architect will have a full understanding of the issues the design must address – such as soil, traffic, and neighbourhood appearance. The design should also take into account a detailed understanding of the needs of your tenants and the community, as identified in Phase 2.

At this step, you may identify some unexpected expenses or savings. Be prepared to revise your budget accordingly.

Obtain approvals

To proceed, your development must comply with provincial and municipal legislation, such as land-use by-laws and the building code. This will involve securing some approvals through your municipality, including plan amendments, re-zoning applications, variances, or site-plan approvals.

Once your design has been approved, you must secure a building permit before construction can start.

Find a builder

Consider putting out a call for proposals so that builders can bid on the proposed work – and give you an opportunity to look at their previous work, check references, and compare prices. You can also simply call around and ask for estimates. After getting several estimates, you might need to update your budgets to accommodate any unexpected costs or savings they identify.

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