Building Permits

What is a building permit?

A building permit is formal permission from the municipality to commence construction.

Building permits regulate types of construction allowed in the community and ensure that building standards are met. The building permit process protects each homeowner's interests, as well as those of the community at large, and provides for the erection of safe structures.

By obtaining a permit, you can also take advantage of the professional expertise of Building Department staff. Inspectors are good sources of information and can offer suggestions to help solve construction problems, often before they occur. They have extensive hands-on experience, so try to be around during their visits.

In many cases, your designer or contractor will get permits on your behalf. But remember, it is the building and or property owners' responsibility to ensure that a building permit is obtained when required. Be sure to keep a copy of all permits for your personal records.

When are building permits needed?

The Building Code Act of Ontario defines a building as:

(a) a structure occupying an area greater than 10 square metres (108 sq. ft.) consisting of a wall, roof and floor, or any of them or a structural system serving the function thereof including all plumbing, works, fixtures and service systems appurtenant thereto,

(b) a structure occupying an area of 10 square metres (108 sq. ft.) or less that contains plumbing, including the plumbing appurtenant thereto,

(c) plumbing not located in a structure, (c.1) a sewage system or

(d) structures designated in the building code.

You need a building permit if you plan to:

* construct a new building
* renovate, repair or add to a building
* demolish or remove all or a portion of a building
* change a building's use
* install, change or remove partitions and load-bearing walls
* make new openings for, or change the size of, doors and windows
* build a garage, balcony or deck
* excavate a basement or construct a foundation
* install or modify heating, plumbing, air conditioning systems or fireplaces
* reconstruct a chimney

You do not need a building permit for:

* fences (other than for swimming pools)
* reshingle a roof, provided there is no structural work
* build a utility shed under 10 square metres (108 square feet)
* install or replace eaves troughs
* replace dry-wall or plaster
* minor repairs to masonry
* damp proofing basements
* kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing changes
* install siding on small residential buildings
* replace existing forced-air furnace or hot water tank (no duct work alterations)
* replacing siding or windows (provided there are no structural changes)
* pool heaters
* painting and decorating
* landscaping
* electrical work (the Electrical Safety Authority, however, must inspect electrical installations)

*** Please note that although items listed above may not require building permits other municipal, provincial and federal laws and regulation still may apply. Please ensure structures meet the requirements of the zoning by-law. If you have questions regarding zoning restrictions please call the municipality at 519-631-4860 or the planning office at 519-633-2560.

What happens if you do not get a permit?

The Building Code Act states that: “no person shall construct or demolish or cause a building to be constructed or demolished in a municipality unless a permit has been issued therefore by the Chief Building Official.” The Building Code Act also defines ‘construct' to mean the doing of anything in the erection, installation, extension, material alteration or repair of a building which also includes installation of a building unit fabricated or moved from elsewhere.

If you start construction but do not have the necessary permits, you may be ordered to stop work, prosecuted, fined, and even ordered to remove work already done. Your building permit fees may be doubled to compensate the Municipality for the additional work involved in processing your application and inspections. Contact the Municipality of Central Elgin if you are not sure whether you need a permit for your project.

Where to apply for a permit?

You can make an application for any type of permit during regular office hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Central Elgin Municipal Offices located in the Elgin County Administration Building at 450 Sunset Drive.

What is required to obtain a permit?

  • A completed building permits application.
  • Copies of approvals from other agencies, eg Conservation Authority review.
  • Two sets of drawings.
  • Drawings are to be to scale, legible and include:
    • Site plan, Lot Grading Plan. Showing service locations, driveways and parking areas, lot lines and dimensions, lot grading (geodetic elevations) and drainage arrows (With the exception of a few smaller projects this will require to be done by a professional engineer of Ontario Land surveyor), new and existing building sizes and locations, building setbacks, street names, municipal address and north arrow.
    • Foundation Plan. Showing; scale, dimensions, size type and location of all walls and partitions, width locations and lintel sizes for all openings, material specifications or notes.
    • Floor Plans. Showing; scale, dimensions, use of rooms and spaces, size type and location of all walls and partitions, width locations and lintel sizes for all openings, material specifications or notes, location and direction of stairs, references to details.
    • Elevations Showing; scale, vertical dimensions, grade level, exterior finishes, overhang dimension, roof shape slope and finish, references to details.
    • Sections and details. Showing; scale, details of footings foundation, walls, floors and roof, distance from grade to floors, roof and underside of footing, material specifications or notes.
    • Stamped engineered plans . If your project if of sufficient size or for public use you may be required to provide stamped engineered plans for approval. If you are unsure if this is the case, phone the building department for clarification.
  • Site Plan Agreement . If you are applying for a permit for industrial, commercial or more than six residential units you will be required to obtaining site plan approval prior to submitting a building permit. Applications for a site plan agreement can be obtained from the Central Elgin Municipal Office located in the Elgin County Administration Building at 450 Sunset Drive, 519-631-4860.
  • Tarion (Ontario New Home Warranty Plan). If you are act as the general contractor in the construction of a new dwelling, you will be required to submit a Tarion declaration of application. Copies can be obtained from the Central Elgin Municipal Office located in the Elgin County Administration Building at 450 Sunset Drive, 519-631-4860.


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