Building Permit FAQs

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Presented below are answers to a number of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about building permits.

Why are Building Permits Needed?

Building permits are necessary to ensure that building code requirements, zoning requirements, fire and structural safety standards, and other building standards are met, primarily for health, safety, and energy conservation reasons. Zoning requirements are contained in the municipal by-laws and the building standards are contained in the Ontario Building Code. This code is a Provincial regulation administered by the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Under the Building Code Act, local governments are given authority for the enforcement of the Ontario Building Code within their municipalities. It is the homeowner's responsibility to ensure that a building permit is obtained when required.

What Projects Require a Building Permit?

The definition of a building under the Building Code Act is as follows:

  1. a structure occupying an area greater than ten square metres 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,
  2. a structure occupying an area of ten square metres or less that contains plumbing, including the plumbing appurtenant thereto,
  3. plumbing not located in a structure,
  4. a sewage system, or
  5. structures designated in the building code

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

  • new homes
  • decks
  • new fireplaces
  • completion of roughed-in fireplaces
  • porches
  • sunrooms
  • solariums
  • carports
  • attached or detached garages
  • dormers
  • one or two storey additions
  • plumbing and/or drains
  • new, replacement, or repair of private sewage systems
  • structural alterations to windows or doors
  • adding or removing walls
  • basement or main floor walkouts
  • second dwelling units
  • change of use

Do I Need a Building Permit for a Deck?

Decks in the rear yard, attached or not attached to the house and less than 2 feet in height do not require a permit. All decks that are more than 2 feet above average grade require a building permit.

Do I Need a Building Permit for a Swimming Pool?

A swimming pool enclosure permit must be obtained from By-Law Services for above-ground or in-ground swimming pools that have a water depth greater than 0.5 metres.

Learn more about swimming pool enclosure requirements.