The ins and outs of Building Permit applications

A building permit is your formal permission to begin construction, demolition, addition, or renovation of your property. When you have received a building permit it means that your construction plans have been deemed by the municipality to meet the requirements set out in the Ontario Building Code, the local zoning by-laws, and other applicable regulations. There are many types of permits that can be issued for any given project and include, but are not limited to: demolition, building, plumbing, and HVAC.

Who needs a building permit?

The Building Code Act indicates that “no person shall construct a building or cause a building to be constructed or demolished unless a permit has been issued by the chief building official”. This law does not just apply to individuals wanting to completely build or demolish a building but generally anyone who wants to change the structure, systems, or use of their building. If you are uncertain as to whether or not you require a permit for the project you have in mind please speak to an architect, engineer, or building code consultant.

What is the purpose of a building permit?

While you undertake the work required to secure a building permit you may ask yourself why building permits are required. The primary reason is that it ensures that renovations and new construction meet basic health, safety, and structural requirements of the building code. The objective is to ensure that all future occupants of the building will be safe, and that the building will remain in good condition.

How do you get a building permit?
Phase 1 - The Design

Once you have decided to undertake a project you will need to create design drawings that comply with the Ontario Building Code. These drawings can be prepared by the owner who is familiar with the Building Code or by a firm with individuals qualified to design buildings for others: engineers, architects, and BCIN designers. The benefit of using qualified individuals is that they can help you navigate the intricacies of the building code.

Phase 2 - Preliminary Project Review

With the initial design in hand, a Preliminary Project Review (PPR) should be completed by the municipality to ensure that the proposed design meets all the local municipal by-laws. If the project does not comply then a redesign will be required or an application for a minor variance can be sought (more on this in our article on the Committee of Adjustment).

Phase 3 - Building Permit Application

Once all the zoning information has been finalized and approved by the municipality, the building permit set of drawings can be formally completed. This phase of work includes the coordination of all the consultants (structural engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, interior designer, architect, etc.) and the finalization of all scopes of work. The drawing package can then be submitted to the municipality for a building permit.

Phase 4 - Waiting for the Building Permit

The municipal building code examiner will review the documents they have received and will issue a building permit once they are confident that the proposed building complies with the building code. It is our experience that there is no average “timeline” for the municipal review process. We have had instances where the permit is issued in 2 days and others where the municipality required clarification of details, which slows down the review process.

Phase 5 - Construction

Once the building permit has been issued, you now have the authority to move forward with construction. There are set requirements that you must adhere to for the construction phase of the project, such as: posting the building permit in a non-conspicuous location, and calling for building inspections at set intervals.

Need help navigating the Ontario Building Code and getting a building permit?