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From Luca’s Desk: Building Permits

Let’s start out with the basics.

What is a building permit?

A building permit is a formal permission from the city to begin construction. The process regulates the type of construction allowed in the community and ensures that minimum building standards are met.

When do you need a building permit?

A building permit is required when you are:

  • Constructing a new building
  • Constructing an addition to an existing building
  • Making structural alterations
  • Constructing an accessory structure larger than 10m2 such as a detached garage
  • Installing or modifying heating or plumbing systems
  • Adding a second suite
  • Making energy or environmental building improvements
  • Constructing a deck more than 2 ft above grade
  • Constructing a retaining wall more than 3ft 3″ on or adjacent to public property
  • Demolishing all or a portion of a building
  • Installing or reconstructing a fireplace or wood burning stove
  • Installing backwater or backflow prevention
  • Changing a building’s use, even if no construction is proposed, a permit is still required

How does the process of obtaining a building permit work?

  1. The first step in the process is preliminary zoning review. The applicable preliminary zoning review program for residential use is a zoning certificate. A survey (if available), site plan, floor plans, elevations and cross sections outlining existing and proposed conditions are required along with the applicable forms and fees. The fee for a zoning certificate is 25% of the building permit.

It should be noted that if you receive a notice specifying a list of minor variances, you must alter the plans to remove zoning deficiencies or submit an application to the Committee of Adjustment. I will be doing another post on the Committee of Adjustment and Ontario Municipal Board process in the coming months.

2. The next step in the process is the building permit application. Documentation for a building permit will vary depending on the specific details of the project. An HVAC & Plumbing and Drains Permit will generally be required as well. A site plan, floor plans, roof plans, elevations, cross sections, construction details and specifications outlining existing and proposed conditions are required along with the applicable forms and fees.

How long does it take the City to review each application?

If the conditions of a complete application are met, the Building Code specifies the following time frames for review:

  • 10 business days for a house
  • 15 business days for a small building
  • 20 business days for a large building
  • 30 business days for a complex building

From my experience working with the City, I recommend starting this process at least four months before you plan to build. The reason for this is because if Committee of Adjustment is required it can take up to two months to get a hearing date.


How much will the application cost me?

There is a minimum fee of $194.24 for all applications. The fee is based on the type of work you are proposing and the floor area in square meters. For a 2,000 sq. ft. residential renovation the cost would be $897.41.

What experts and resources do I need to complete this process?

  • A designer qualified and registered with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing or a licensed architect
  • A structural engineer (if applicable)
  • A mechanical designer (if applicable)
  • A surveyor (if applicable)

At Urban Blueprint, we are able to manage this entire process for you. We provide devoted service and a fast turnaround. We have qualified and registered designers in-house that use the same software as our structural engineers and other consultants which allows the design team to work efficiently and effectively. Being builders as well, we have a clear understanding of construction costs and take pride in ensuring that our design is in line with our client’s budget.


In my next post, I’ll be discussing how to analyze real estate opportunities, so please feel free to send me your questions!