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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Building Permit?
A Building Permit is a document issued by the Building Control and By-Law Enforcement Division of the Planning and Economic Development Department. The Building Permit grants the owner, or his/her authorized agent, legal permission to commence construction. Furthermore, the issuance of a Building Permit authorizes Building Officials to participate in the project by means of education, and other tools to ensure that the requirements of the Ontario Building Code and other applicable standards are being complied with.

Why is a Building Permit required?
Building Permits are necessary to ensure that zoning provisions (contained in the County's Zoning By-Laws), and building safety standards (contained in the Ontario Building Code) are satisfied in order to maintain or improve the health, fire, and structural standards for the general public. The Ontario Building Code is a provincial regulation administered by the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing. Under the Building Code Act, local governments are mandated and given authority to enforce the provisions of the Ontario Building Code within their municipal jurisdiction.

What can result from not obtaining a Building Permit?
It is unlawful to commence some types of construction without a Building Permit. If the work does not comply with the Ontario Building Code requirements:

  • Costly repairs may be required to gain compliance;
  • Removal of work not done in compliance with the Ontario Building Code and/or other applicable laws;
  • Building Permit fees may be increased;
  • Legal action may be initiated by the Building Control Division in order to gain compliance.

If you are still uncertain whether or not your project requires a Building Permit, contact a Building Inspector in your area who will assist you in making that determination.

Who is responsible for obtaining a Building Permit?
A contractor will often, as part of their contract, apply for and obtain a Building Permit. However, the property owner is ultimately responsible for obtaining all required permits, including Building Permits.

When is a Building Permit required?
The Building Code Act requires a building permit for the construction of any structure, which results in a building area of over 10 square meters (107 square feet) including additions, alterations and renovations, and includes plumbing, site services, a sewage system, and other designated structures. Building Permits are required for various types of construction, including:

  • Accessory buildings/structures over 10 square meters (107 square feet)
  • Buildings/structures - construction/alteration/replacement/demolition
  • Change of occupancy of a building (e.g. store to a restaurant)
  • Decks
    • Any size deck serving as an exit or entrance to a building,
    • Any deck with an area of over 10 square meters,
    • Any deck attached to a building resulting in a combined area of 10 square meters, or
    • Any deck greater than 2 feet above the grade at any point. 
  • Fireplaces and chimneys
  • Plumbing fixtures - installation
  • Pools - with a water depth of 18 inches or greater (including all inflatable, above-ground, on-ground and in-ground pools)
  • Ramps or elevating devices
  • Sewage systems - installation/repair
  • Signs
  • Solar collector panels - roof-mounted and free-standing
  • Tents - greater than 60 square meters, all tents within 3 meters of a building, or a group of tents
  • Woodstoves and fireplace inserts

When is a Building Permit not required?
A Building Permit is not required for a detached accessory structure that measures 10 square meters (107 square feet) in area or less. Although a building permit may not be required, Zoning By-Law requirements and Ontario Building Code requirements must still be complied with. Building Permits are not required for various types of construction, including:

  • Demolition of farm buildings
  • Detached accessory structures - less than 10 square meters in building area
  • Eavestroughs and downspouts
  • Fences - other than for swimming pools
  • Kitchen cupboards - removal and replacement
  • Landscaping - that does not alter the drainage of the lot
  • Non-loadbearing/structural repairs or renovations (no impact on the structure)
  • Painting and decorating
  • Shingles - installing on existing roof
  • Windows - replacement of same size window in same location

If this list does not include specifics of your project or you are unsure if a Building Permit will be required, please review the details of the work with a Building Inspector in your area, prior to construction.  

Do I require a Building Permit for electrical work?
If any electrical work is being proposed (i.e. lighting, wiring, switches, outlets), contact the Electrical Safety Authority for information regarding permits and permit fees. The contact number for the Electrical Safety Authority is 1-877-ESA-SAFE (1-877-372-7233).

What is the Building Permit process?

Step 1 – Apply

Building Permit applications supply mandatory information to the Building Control Division for the acceptance of Building Permits. Building Permits may be applied for by the property owner, or by an agent on behalf of the owner, such as the contractor or designer. When applying for a Building Permit, the following items will need to be submitted:

  • A completed ‘Application for Building Permit’
  • 2 copies of building plans/drawings
  • 2 copies of plot plan/survey or site plan
  • Building Permit fee(s) (all fees must be paid prior to the issuance of a Building Permit)
  • Any required prior approvals by outside authorities/agencies

Step 2 – Review
The duration for the processing of a Building Permit application varies in accordance with the quality and completeness of the submittal, as well as the degree of compliance of the plans with applicable regulations. Once an application is deemed to be complete by the Building Services Division, smaller projects (i.e. houses, decks, pools, septic systems, small commercial) are generally processed within 10 working days (maximum), and larger projects (i.e. schools, restaurants, shopping centers, churches, hospitals, factories) are generally processed within 30 working days (maximum).

Step 3 – Receive
If compliance with the Ontario Building Code, Zoning By-Laws and other applicable regulations is determined, the application is approved and a Building Permit is issued as per the original submitted documentation.  The Building Permit is the document granting legal permission to start construction. Please make sure that you bring any proposed changes (to the approved construction plans) to the attention of a Building Official immediately, as changes may require a review and approval in the same manner as the original application.

Step 4 – Inspect
Each major phase of construction must be inspected by a Building Official to ensure that the work conforms to the approved plans. Inspections required for your project will be indicated within the package that you will receive with your Building Permit. Inspections must be requested by either the owner or contractor at least 24 hours before work proceeds from one inspection stage to the next. Failure to have inspections performed may result in having to uncover and expose work for proper inspections. If a Building Official finds that work does not conform to the approved plans, he/she will advise that the situation is to be remedied, and additional inspections may be necessary.

When do I need a Building Inspection?
Once you have received your building permit, several inspections are required during the construction process to ensure that all work is being carried out according to the approved plan and the Ontario Building Code. The owner/contractor is responsible to provide 24 hours notice for the following basic inspections:

  • Subgrade (inspection prior to the pouring of concrete)
  • Foundation (inspection prior to backfilling)
  • Underground Rough-In Plumbing
  • Aboveground Rough-In Plumbing
  • Framing
  • Fireplace, Woodstove, Insert
  • Insulation and Vapour Barrier
  • Drywall
  • Septic System
  • Occupancy Permit
  • Final

For larger projects (commercial, industrial, and institutional), further inspections may be required (i.e. fire separation).

How do I arrange a Building Inspection?
The regulations require you to contact your area Building Inspector to schedule a construction-related inspection.  This may be done at anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (voicemail).  Inspections must be booked 24 hours in advance of the requested time. Building inspections are conducted Mondays to Fridays from 1:00pm until 4:30pm.  When booking an inspection, whether by phone, voicemail, or e-mail, the following information is required:

  • Municipal Address
  • Building Permit Number
  • Type of Inspection (i.e. Footing, Foundation)
  • Caller Name and Phone Number
  • Date and Time of Requested Inspection

How can I request access to the information in my property file (i.e. building permits, surveys)?
Municipal government information is protected under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requires that local government organizations protect the privacy of an individual's personal information existing in government records. It also gives individuals the right to request access to municipal government information including most general records and records containing their own personal information. All requests for access to information must go through the County’s Clerk’s Division, but the requests can be started from any Haldimand County office by a customer service representative. Please visit the Clerk’s Division Freedom of Information Requests for more information.

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