Do you want to live outside the big city, but close enough for easy access to everything you need? You’ll find just that in Cochrane, Alberta – a place that offers a great balance between affordability and accessibility to everyday amenities.
Cochrane is a great choice for those seeking a peaceful community, plenty of outdoor activities, modern convenience, and strong small-town pride. It’s known for being one of just a few Canadian places with no business tax! But before you start planning your dream home, here are six things you should know about building a home in Cochrane, Alberta.
Building a Custom Home in Cochrane
1) Your house can’t be too tall
Cochrane has specific regulations regarding the height of residential structures. According to the most recent municipal bylaws, the maximum height for a single-family detached home is 14 metres (approximately 45 feet) in the large lot district, and 12 metres (39 feet) in others. This is measured from the top of the tallest roof to the finished grade below it. If you’re planning a two-storey home, this height restriction shouldn’t impact you, but it’s always in your best interest to compare blueprints to regulations.
2) Different zones have different development opportunities
Cochrane offers a variety of lot sizes, depending on the zoning you are under. But regardless of how big it is, there is a limit on how many buildings can be placed on one parcel of land, what percentage of the lot can be covered, and the minimum yard widths you can have. So, if you’re thinking about a guest house or multiple garages, you’ll want to be sure you’re legally allowed to do it first!
As a more populous town than somewhere like, say, Carstairs, the average lot size is smaller than a more rural area. This will impact the ultimate size of your home, how close your neighbours are, and how much space you have to yourself. Big, open yards are always a bonus, but many people trade a bit of space for the conveniences of town.
3) There are some amazing community benefits
Cochrane offers a wealth of community amenities, including parks, sports fields, a community centre, and a public library. There are miles of pathways and trails along the river, unique and boutique small businesses, and plenty of public events all year long. These amenities provide a great opportunity for residents to get involved in the community, meet new people, and enjoy an active lifestyle, all within a few minutes of your new custom built home!
4) The paperwork is as important as the plans
Don’t forget to file! Before you start building your home, it’s crucial to obtain all necessary development permits from the town. This includes building permits, electrical permits, and plumbing permits, as well as others for special cases or uses. You will also need to pay development fees, prove you own the lot, and submit a site plan and have it approved by the town’s planning and development department.
Why is this important? While it may feel like a headache, it’s actually to ensure that all major work done meets standards of quality – and that the structure remains safe and habitable after the work is complete. What happens on your lot can indirectly impact your neighbours and the town (drainage, chemical spills, noise, dust, or property valuation, for example). So, it’s in the town’s best interest to make sure everything is well planned and carried out, with minimal disruptions to you or others.
5) Read up on your building materials
Speaking of keeping things safe and sound, Cochrane has specific regulations regarding building, lawn, frontage, or yard materials. For example, on page 90 of the bylaws, you’ll see that the town requires the use of fire-resistant landscaping products surrounding the principal building on each new development:
Bylaw 8.13.25 All Principal Buildings in a residential District should have a minimum 1.2m area of non-combustible Landscaping materials surrounding the Building perimeter, including rock, gravel, brick, concrete or other materials to the satisfaction of the Development Authority.
Additionally, the use of environmentally friendly materials is encouraged where possible – such as low-emission insulation, recycled metals, or alternatives to traditional concrete. Of course, any materials used will still have to meet strength, durability, and energy requirements in order to stand up to the swings between the long, hot summer days and the biting winter cold. Installing energy-efficient appliances and smart technology is a great way to stay on top of your monthly bills, year-round.
6) You’ve got all the utilities you need
As far as “small towns” go, Cochrane is on the larger side, with a population of approximately 35,000 in 2021. This means that the town can provide a full complement of utility services, including recycling, waste removal, natural gas, water, and sewer – though, if you are building on an area outside the town limits, your access and costs may vary.
For utilities like telecoms and electricity, you have a range of providers to choose from, with a quality of service similar to what you’d find in Calgary. If new lines have to be dug or laid, that can add to your overall cost, though, so don’t be afraid to get a proper estimate.
Custom Home Building in Cochrane, Alberta
That’s a lot of information to cover – but with the right home builder at your side, you’ll have a professional guide to help at every step of the way. Here at Thomas Built Homes, we know that every family, location, home, and dream is different, and finding that perfect blend of them all is what our job is all about.
We take pride in serving small-town Albertans and delivering bespoke, customized homes that exceed expectations. We cover them all with our New Home Warranties, because we are here to make your dreams a reality – and we’ll always be here when you need us. You can start the process today with a simple call or email…your forever home may be just around the corner in Cochrane!