Building Permit

When Do You Need a Building Permit?

If you are planning to renovate your property, ensure you do not skip the mandate of obtaining a Building Permit.

Many homeowners are not aware of a Building Permit, and you might be one of them. If so, you should acquaint yourself with what it is and why you do need it.

What is a Building Permit?

You can regard the Building Permit as an essential document that allows you to renovate, construct, demolish or change the use of a building.

In practice, the municipal building department, responsible for implementing the Ontario Building Code, issues the permit.

Why Do You Need a Building Permit?

You need to get a Building Permit before starting your property renovation to ensure that the revamp conforms to the guidelines for health, safety and structural soundness as per the mandates of the Building Code for your area.

Due to the implementation of the permit, municipalities can protect the interests of people and communities.

By issuing a Building Permit before you begin your renovation work, the municipality ensures that your renovation complies with:

  • the Building Code, which sets the standards for the design and construction of buildings in conformity with the objectives such as accessibility, fire protection, health, safety, and resource conservation
  • the Local Zoning By-Law and other relevant planning controls on buildings
  • other applicable legislations, including conservation authority approvals and the essential requirements under the Environmental Protection Act

Therefore, you need to obtain a Building Permit to ensure that your renovation plan conforms to the existing regulatory mandates for your area.

When the Need for a Building Permit Arises?

You need a Building Permit to carry out building renovation that involves structural or system changes. It can include:

  • Additions
  • Space reconfiguration by removing or restructuring walls, windows or doors, and fireplace installation

In specific terms, you need to get a Building Permit before you:

  • Construct a new building that is more than ten square meters or place another structure, like a mobile house, on your property
  • Renovate or repair your building
  • Alter your building use
  • Construct, or excavate a foundation
  • Build a seasonal building
  • Undertake work, such as the installation, alteration, extension or repair of an on-site sewage system

For carrying out electrical and plumbing work, you may need to obtain the requisite permits separately.

If you have any doubts or queries regarding the necessity of a Building Permit, you need to contact the municipality office in your area for resolution.

The Application Procedure for Obtaining a Building Permit

Before you apply for a Building Permit, you should obtain the application form. You can bring the application form from the municipality office or download it from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website.

You should note that you have to submit the Building Permit application to the municipality office in your area but not to the provincial government.

While submitting, you have to attach drawings, plans, and other documents, related to your building renovation, with the application. Moreover, you also have to pay the necessary fee.

It will help if you talk to the municipality office staff before submitting your application to elicit what information, drawings and plans you need to include. Moreover, the communication will also help you know whether you will need any other permits or approvals.

Suppose you carry out your building renovation in Toronto. In that case, you can submit your application for obtaining the Building Permit Toronto at the customer service counter in the district office of the area of location of your building. Also, you need to pay the requisite fee.

After submitting your application, the Toronto building staff will review it to ensure that your plan conforms to the Ontario Building Code, local zoning by-laws, and other relevant regulations. If they find that your application conforms to all necessary laws, they will consider it for approval. And, you can monitor the status of your application for the Toronto Building Permit online.

The validity of Building Permits remains intact for the entire duration of your renovation. But, if the renovation work has not started or has stopped, the permit remains valid for up to six months. Besides, a building inspector can extend the duration of validity of your Building Permit.

The Application Review Process

After submitting your application, the municipality officials will review your application to ensure the plan complies with the Building Code and other applicable laws, such as the Local Zoning By-Laws.

If your renovation involves a simple makeover or addition, you can expect the officials to process your application quickly. But, the application processing will take a longer time for a complex renovation plan.

According to the existing Building Code rules, a municipality should review a Building Permit application within a specific duration, according to the criteria directed in the Code. For example, the period for reviewing a Building Permit application for a house is ten days. And that for a complex building, such as a hospital, the timeframe is 30 days.

The rules mandate that a municipality must either issue the permit or reject it. In case of rejection, the municipality should state the reasons behind the disapproval.

For the municipality to approve your application and issue the permit, your plan must comply with the Building Code and applicable laws.

If you want a zoning change or a minor deviation from the Zoning By-Law, the municipality will not issue the permit until you get them approved.

Likewise, if your plan does not comply with the Building Code, the municipality will issue the permit only when you restructure the plan, complying with the Building Code.

Again, the municipality may not approve your application if a site plan control by-law covers your property. In that case, you will have to wait until the municipality approves the plan and drawings.

The Steps You Can Take if Municipality Rejects Your Application

If the municipality rejects your Building Permit application, they will state the underlying reasons. In that case, you can try to resolve the issue with the municipality. But, if you fail to get the issues resolved, you can take a few steps.

Suppose the rejection pertains to a deviation of technical requirements mandated in the Building Code. In that case, you can appeal to the Building Code Commission, an independent adjudicative tribunal of the provincial government. The commission hears disputes related to compliance with the technical requirements of the Building Code.

Suppose the refusal is due to non-conformity with other applicable laws, such as interpretation of the Zoning By-Law. In that case, you can appeal to a Superior Court of Justice judge to review the issue.

The Final Words

Obtaining a Building Permit is a must before you renovate your property. If you carry out your property renovation without obtaining the permit, it will violate the law. So, the municipality will stop your renovation work until you get the permit.