Why get a Building Permit?

Building permits are required before you build, demolish, repair or alter most buildings, decks, mezzanines, retaining walls, garages, carports, secondary suites, swimming pools, plumbing, sprinklers, furnaces or structures.

It is important to get a Building Permit before beginning your project to:

  • Protect the safety of occupants,
  • Ensure you won’t have to tear your work down and start over with the required permits,
  • Avoid additional permits and fees incurred if you build without a permit,
  • Reassure buyers who avoid purchasing buildings with unauthorized construction,
  • Maintain the value of your home, and
  • Ensure any new buildings and structures comply with all building regulations including the Building and Plumbing Bylaw, the BC Building Code and Zoning Bylaw regulations.

Obtaining a Building Permit will also allow your future business tenants to get a business licence, and keeps your insurance agent and neighbors happy.

What happens if I don’t get a permit?

If you carry out a renovation project that requires a building permit without obtaining one, your municipality can issue a stop-work order, which remains in effect until you have a permit. If any work doesn’t meet the requirements of the Building Code, you will have to re-do it at your own cost. In worst-case scenarios, you could be forced to un-renovate your home, such as removing an addition. This could happen if you violate setback regulations for instance. Working without a required permit may also affect an insurance claim arising from the renovation. Check with your insurance representative.

Remember, as the homeowner, you are the one responsible — not the contractor. Renovators who suggest that you skip the building permit, are looking after their own interests, not yours. Fly-by-nighters don’t want their name on any official documents.

Commercial


A Building Permit is required when you:

  • Repair, renovate or add to an existing building;
  • Remove, relocate, alter or construct interior walls, stairs, doors or windows;
  • Complete a previously unfinished area in an existing building;
  • Demolish, relocate or move a building;
  • Construct a mezzanine or second floor;
  • Construct racking storage;
  • Install a walk-in cooler;
  • Install a spray booth;
  • Install or upgrade an exhaust system; or
  • Any other project Building staff deem necessary

Residential


A Building Permit is required when you

  • Construct any new building or structure
  • Construct a new accessory building
  • Make alterations, additions or repairs to an existing building or structure
  • Complete a previously unfinished area in an existing building, e.g., a recreation room or bathroom
  • Make interior structural renovations
  • Demolish or relocate a building or structure
  • Locate or relocate a manufactured or mobile home on a lot
  • Remodel or construct a deck
  • Construct a swimming pool
  • Install or alter plumbing within a building or structure or on a property
  • Connect to a municipal sanitary or storm sewer system
  • Install a new chimney or fireplace
  • Enclose your carport or change your garage to living space
  • Change the use / occupancy of an existing building, i.e. from office to retail.

You may not start any stage of a project, including demolition or excavation, until a building permit has been obtained.

A Building Permit is not required for:

  • installing cupboards;
  • roofing repairs or replacements (providing that no structural changes are made);
  • exterior finish repair or replacement (e.g., stucco or siding, providing that no structural changes are made);
  • landscaping or sidewalks;
  • fences less than 2 meters in height;
  • retaining structures less than 1.0 metres in height, that retain less than 1.0 metre of earth ;
  • buildings (ie: storage shed) less than 10 square metres in size; (note: even though a permit is not required, the structure must still comply with zoning regulations with respect to setbacks and height)
  • Farm Buildings on land designated for agricultural use and with farm status under the Assessment Act. (note: farm buildings must comply with the requirements of the National Farm Building Code and the applicable zoning regulations for the property)
Garages

A building permit is required when you wish to add to or construct a new detached accessory building that is over a 100 square feet or considered a hazard.

Decks

A building permit is required when you wish to construct a deck, add onto the existing deck, repair a deck or put a roof cover over deck. A building permit is not required for non-structural minor modifications.