Home >> Departments >> Building and Zoning >> FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

I am not sure whether I require a building permit - what should I do?

Please contact the Building Department with details of the work you're planning. Our staff will be able to assist you in determining if a permit is required. Making early enquiries about your project will help to resolve any possible issues you may encounter.

Why do I need a building permit?

A Building Permit provides the means to review the project designs, to inspect the actual construction and to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the occupants of the building are maintained. By reviewing and approving plans before any work is done ensures that construction complies with the Ontario Building Code (which sets minimum standards for design and materials), the local zoning by-law (which controls building location, height, parking, etc. and uses that are suitable to the area) and other applicable laws.

A building permit is a formal approval to construct, add to, or renovate a building on your property. Building permits allow the municipality to protect the interests of both individuals and the community as a whole.

When is a building permit required?

The Ontario Building Code Act requires a building permit when a person constructs or demolishes a building or causes a building to be constructed or demolished. A building is defined as: (a) a structure occupying an area greater than 10 m2 (107.6 ft2) consisting of a wall, roof, and floor or any of them or a structural system serving the function thereof including all plumbing, works, fixtures, and service systems appurtenant thereto,

(b) a structure occupying an area of 10 m2 (107.6 ft2) or less that contains plumbing, including the plumbing appurtenant thereto,

(c) plumbing not located in a structure

(d) a sewage system; or

(e) structures designated in the building code

What construction projects DO require a Building Permit?

Under the Ontario Building Code Act, a building permit is required to construct, demolish, renovate, alter, or change the use of a building.

The following is a list of typical projects that require a building permit:

  • Adding a bedroom to the basement
  • Adding a dormer to existing roof
  • Additions to an existing building
  • Attached garage, carport, shed or other roof structures
  • Basement or main floor walkouts
  • Creating a duplex (in-law suite, accessory apartment, granny flat)
  • Decks greater the 24 inches in height above grade
  • Demolition of a structure greater than 108 square feet in building area
  • Detached garage, shed or accessory structure 108 square feet and greater (measured to the outside face of exterior walls)
  • Finishing the basement of a house
  • Industrial, Commercial, Institutional and multi-residential construction or alterations or changes of use
  • Installing a new window or door (when increasing the width of the existing opening)
  • New Residential Dwellings
  • Pending location, a retaining wall that is greater than 1 meter in height
  • Plumbing fixtures added or relocated
  • Re-insulating walls, ceilings, or floors
  • Removing a load bearing wall, column, lintel, or beam
  • Renovation or converting an existing building (change of use)
  • Septic system installations and alterations
  • Site servicing (water or sewer lines) for all building types
  • Solar Panels that are mounted to a building
  • Swimming pool and fence
  • Tent or group of tents that is, more than 60m2 (646 ft2) in aggregate ground area, attached to a building, or constructed within 3m (9'-10") of any structure
  • Woodstove or wood burning fireplace

What construction projects DO NOT require a Building Permit?

A building permit is not required for a detached accessory structure such as a gazebo or tool shed that measures an area of 10 m2 (108 sq. ft.) or less.

The following is a list of typical projects that do not require a building permit:

  • Decks less than 24 inches in height (not supporting a roof)
  • Door and window replacements (within the existing opening, where no structural members are changed)
  • Fences, unless installed around swimming pool
  • Installing a gas fireplace
  • Installing new shingles on existing roof
  • Installing a water softener
  • Painting, wall papering, tiling, carpeting, cabinets, countertops, and similar finish work
  • Replacing a plumbing fixture (i.e. toilet, bathtub or sink) with a new fixture in the same location.
  • Structure less than 108 square feet measured from the outside face of walls (that does not contain plumbing) 

Do I need a permit to erect a tent used for special occasions?

Yes. As regulated under the Ontario Building Code, any tent over 60 m2 (646 ft2), any size tent attached to a building, or any size tent constructed less that 3 m from other structures, requires a building permit. For further information please contact the Building Department.

When do I require a demolition permit?

A demolition permit is required for all buildings that would normally require a building permit. The Ontario Building Code exempts farm buildings located on agriculture property, however you should complete a Form 357.

What information is needed for a demolition permit?

The Application for a Permit to Demolish is required to be submitted along with confirmation from all utilities that the services have been disconnected to the building.

What do I need to provide to get a building permit?

The Ontario Building Code requires Applications to Construct, Demolish and or the Installation of Septic Systems to be applied for by the registered owner of a property or an authorized agent acting on behalf of the owner.

Fill in and complete the Application to Construct and or Demolish, and/or the Application for Septic System and submit to the Building Department with:

  • 2 sets of Construction Drawings (foundation, floor plan(s), cross section, elevations, pre-engineered building components, etc., as appropriate).
  • 2 copies of the site plan or property survey; or lot grading and drainage plan
  • HVAC design and Schedule 1 Designer Information Form
  • Energy Efficiency Design Summary Form
  • Conservation Authority approval if required
  • If you are uncertain what is required, please contact us via email or phone

Who should apply for the building permit – the contractor or the owner?

The owner of the property or an authorized agent for the owner (contractor) must apply for the building permit. Authorized agents can submit the form Authorization of Owner(s) for Applicant/Agent to Make the Application or similar form with the permit application.

Where do I submit a Building Permit Application?

Building Permit Applications should be submitted to the Building Department.

How long does it take to approve a Building Permit Application?

Depending on the project, a permit must be issued from within ten business days to thirty business days pending the type of project, providing all applicable drawings have been received, all fees paid, and any other applicable law has been approved. To ensure your permit application is expedited, ensure you submit all required documentation.

What are the Building Permit Fees?

The Building Permit Fees can be found in the Fees & Charges By-law

What happens if I DO NOT get a building permit?

Constructing or altering a structure without a Permit can result in numerous problems including:

  • not conforming with the Ontario Building Code
  • putting yourself and your family at potential risk
  • putting yourself at liability should an injury occur to someone while visiting your property as a result of a structure not conforming to the Ontario Building Code
  • extra cost in having to reconstruct, replace, or remove the structure according to the Zoning By-law and Ontario Building Code
  • increased permit fees
  • insurance protection nullification
  • difficulty selling the property
  • complaints from neighbours

How much notice does the Building Inspector require to perform an inspection?

The Ontario Building Code requires the inspection to be completed within two (2) business days for regular inspections and no later than five (5) business days for sewage systems. The time begins on the following day after the request has been received.

Who is responsible for requesting an inspection?

The Owner and/or Contractor is responsible for contacting the Building department when the work is ready for inspection.

What happens if construction work does not meet Ontario Building Code standards?

If at time of inspection the inspected work does not meet the appropriate criteria according to the Ontario Building Code, the issue must be rectified and, in most cases, a re-inspection will be required before the project can proceed.


For more information regarding Ontario's laws surrounding building codes, permits, housing, and health and emergency services, please visit the following websites:

Citizen’s Guide for Building Permits

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Ontario Building Code

Ontario Building Officials Association

Ontario Ministry of Labour (Notice of Project – over $50,000)


Other Resources

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

PO Box 127 Wroxeter, Ontario


  • Fill and Construction Permits
  • Approval if near Slope or Hazard Lands
  • Building in Natural Environment Areas

Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority

1078 Bruce Rd. #12, Box 150, Formosa, Ontario. N0G 1W0

Telephone: (519) 367-3040

  • Fill and Construction Permits
  • Approval if near slope of Hazard Lands
  • Building in Natural Environment Areas


WSIB Mandatory Coverage in the Construction Industry

Notification and Enrollment in Program. Before the work starts, get the clearance number.

If you work in construction, the rules for mandatory WSIB coverage have changed. Do you run your own construction business? Big or small, with workers or without, you still need to know what's changed. For more information on mandatory coverage in the construction industry or visit www.needwsibcoverage.ca


Locates - Ontario One Call Ltd.

Call Before You Dig.

Telephone: 1-800-400-2255

Ontario New Home Warranty Program

Flr. 2 – 150 Edna Kit Kitchener, Ontario

Telephone: 519-744-0861

Ministry of Labour

Telephone: 1-800-265-4707

Ministry of Natural Resources

Telephone 1-888-574-6656

Electrical Safety Authority (E.S.A)



Special Requirements for Livestock Housing Structures

Nutrient Management

Section 11.1 of O.Reg 267/03 of the Nutrient Management Act, 2002, with respect to a proposed building or structure to house farm animals or store nutrients if that Regulation requires the preparation and approval of a nutrient management strategy before construction of the proposed building or structure

Responsible Agency – Ministry of Agriculture and Food

1 Stone Road West

Guelph, ON           N1G 4Y2

Toll Free:         1-888-466-2372