Do you need a Building Permit?
A building permit is required before starting a construction, demolition or renovation project, other than the exceptions listed below. This is provided for general guidance and is not an all-encompassing listing. For advice on whether your project requires a permit, contact our Permit Administrator at 905-475-4870.
You do need a Building Permit for the following projects:
- Any new building greater than 10m2 (108 ft2) in size (the area of the building's footprint)
- Any new building that contains plumbing, irrespective of size
- Any addition to an existing building, irrespective of size
- Concrete porches
- Raised decks more than (24") above existing grade at any point
- Detached or attached garages and carports
- Addition of a dormer
- Installing or changing a swimming pool fence enclosure
- Tents (645 sq. ft / 60 m2 more ground area)
Demolition and Alterations:
- Demolishing any building greater than 10m2 (108 ft2) in size
- Adding, removing or altering a structural wall or column
- Adding, removing or altering a non-loadbearing partition
- Changing the use of a building
- Installing a basement entrance
- Relocating a Building
- Changing a fireplace from gas to wood or solid fuel burning
- Roughing in a bathroom or washroom
- Installing a fireplace or wood stove
- Renovating a dwelling to provide a full basement
- Construction separate rooms in a basement
- Installing an accessory apartment
- Installing any new plumbing piping
- Repairing or installing an on-site sewage system
- Connecting to municipal sanitary and storm sewers
- Installing a new furnace utilizing a new fuel source
- Installing an exterior sign
- An underground sprinkler system connected to building plumbing
- Installing a solar hot water system
- Recycling grey water to reduce water use
- Commercial roof-mounted solar projects
- Replacing an exterior wall or cladding
A building permit is required for construction whether the work is on the interior or the exterior of the building or dwelling. There is no exemption for a building permit when performing construction solely within or inside a dwelling.
You don't need a Building Permit for the following residential projects:
- Constructing detached accessory buildings less than 10m2 (108 sq. ft.) in area*
- Decks not adjacent to a building entrance that are less than 10m2 (108 sq. ft.) in area
- Decks less than 600mm (24 inches) above existing grade at all locations
- Damp-proofing basements
- Replacing plumbing fixtures or water heaters
- Replacing a furnace or adding air conditioning units or a heat pump
- Electrical projects
- Kitchen or bathroom cupboards
- Painting and decorating
- Maintenance and repairs
- Replacing windows or doors
- Replacing roofing or shingles
- Fences other than a pool enclosure fence
- Retaining walls less than 1 meter in height
- Sidewalks, planters and landscaping
- Garden pergolas and gazebos that do not have a solid roof
- Ground or roof mounted solar photovoltaic panels
Getting a building permit
Getting a building permit is usually quick & simple if you:
- Use our online tools to check that your project complies with the zoning by-law and other applicable laws before you apply
- Prepare construction plans that comply with the building code
- File a permit application with 2 copies of complete and detailed plans
Zoning and Other Applicable Laws
A building permit cannot be issued if an owner's site plan and building proposal does not meet City zoning standards, including land use, setbacks from property lines and maximum lot coverage. If you cannot meet all zoning requirements because of site restrictions, you may apply for exemption through the Committee of Adjustment or a zoning by-law amendment. These processes must be completed before a building permit can be considered.
Use our online zoning search tool to determine the zoning restrictions that apply to your property.
In certain cases other laws will apply to a project and must be completed before a building permit can be issued. The laws include site plan approval under the Planning Act, heritage approvals, conservation authority permits and others.
Use our online property information tool and our applicable law checklist [PDF] to determine the other applicable laws that apply to your property. If they do, it is recommended that you complete these approvals before applying for your building permit.
The Building Code
A building permit must be refused by the City if an owner's construction will not meet Ontario's Building Code. The Ontario Building Code sets out mandatory minimum standards for structural, health, fire safety and accessibility, and there is no appeal or variance permitted.
The building code also requires that permit plans be prepared by a provincially qualified designer, or by an architect or professional engineer. Your designer is responsible to ensure the design meets the building code.
The building code permits knowledgeable homeowners to prepare permit plans for their own house, provided they meet these same construction standards.
The City does not provide design services, however our online ask a building code question may be used to verify an Ontario construction standard, and standard details (coming soon) are available to assist with preparing permit plans.