Building Services FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Building Services

Q: Where do I apply for a building permit?
A: All building permits can be applied for at Building Services located in the Town Offices, Monday to Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm.

Q: What is the purpose of Development Charges?
A: The purpose of Development Charges is to recover the growth-related costs associated with the capital infrastructure needed to service new development. Services include water, sewer, roads, fire facilities, library facilities and materials, parkland and recreation.

Q: What if I don't know the address of a new property?
A: New properties will be given a municipal address when, and only when a building permit has been issued for that property?

Q: Does the building department issue sign permits?
A: The building department issues sign permits if it is a large engineered sign. Any other sign inquiries should be directed to By-law Enforcement at 905 468-3266.

Q: What can result from not obtaining a building permit?
A: It is unlawful to start construction without the necessary permits. If you start construction without the necessary permits, you may be ordered to stop work, ordered to remove work already completed, building fees will be increased, or legal action may be initiated by the Building Department. Contact Building Services if you are not sure whether you need a permit for your project.

Q: What is plans examination and what is the process?
A: Once the application is complete and all necessary documents, approvals and form have been submitted the application is then processed. Zoning is checked to ensure compliance with all application by-laws. A plans examiner will evaluate the drawings to ensure they meet all the requirements and regulations of the Ontario Building Code as well as all other applicable regulations. The applications is then reviewed by a Building Inspector who confirms compliance with all regulations. The Chief Building Official reviews, signs and issues the permit

Q: When is it required to request a building inspection?
A: Inspections are required during the construction of your project to ensure that all work is done in compliance with the approved plans. Inspection stages are outlined when a permit is issued. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that they or their contractor contacts the Town to request an inspection before the next stage of construction is required.

Q: How do I arrange for a building inspection?
A: Please call 905 468-3266 ext. 257 to request a building inspection appointment. If it is necessary to leave a message please be clear as to the location - including municipal address, the owner of the property, the day in which the inspection is required and the type of inspection. Our inspectors will do their best to honour your request, however, they do not given specific times unless you've spoken to then directly. Please note that a minimum of 48 hours notice is required to book an inspection.

Q: What does a building inspector do?
A: A building inspector reviews projects during key stages of construction to ensure work complies with the Building Code and the plans originally submitted for review. The inspector may visit a site several times depending on the project.

Q: How can I obtain the locates on my property?
A: Remember to contact all utilities before you dig.

Q: What is a building permit?
A: A building permit is a document that grants legal permission to start construction of a "building" as defined by the Building Code Act of Ontario. A Building Permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means that the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has reviewed your plans for a new structure, addition or renovation. These plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local zoning by-laws, and other applicable laws and regulations.

Q: Why is a building permit required?
A: Building permits regulate the type of construction allowed in the community and help to ensure building standards, codes and that all applicable by-laws are enforced. The building permit process protections each homeowner's interested, as well as those of the community and helps to make certain that the health, safety and welfare of the building occupants is upheld.

Q: How long is a permit good for?
A: Although the permit is good for one year from the date it was issued, you have six months to commence work. The permit continues as long as the work is "on-going". Work that has not progressed six months from the date the permit was issued is considered not "on-going" as is eligible to be revoked by the Chief Building Official.

Q: Do you have information on Pools and Decks?
A: Link to fence by-law.

Q: What are the fees for a permit?
A: Link to fee schedule

Q: Are there other fees?
A: There may be other applicable fees on top of the building permit cost. These may include: Regional and/or Municipal Development Charges Heavy Loading Charges Water Meter Fee (for new water meters) Lot Grading Deposit (for lots smaller than 1 acre) Damage Deposit Other fees outlined in Subdivision Agreements

Q: When is a building permit not required?
A: You do not need a building permit to: Replace existing, same size doors and windows; Install siding on small residential buildings, subject to distance from property lines; Build a utility shed under 108 square fee (10 square metres) subject to distance from property lines; Re-shingle a roof, provided there is not structure work; Install eavestroughs, provided the drainage is contained on your property Damp proof basements; Paint or decorate; Re-install/replace kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing; Erect a fence, subject to fence by-law (except for swimming pools and hot tubs which require a permit); Re-tiling, carpeting, floors

Q: How detailed should drawings be?
A: If you feel you have a good working knowledge of construction practices, some knowledge of the Ontario Building Code or experience in construction, you can draw you own plans. Single line pencil drawings are not acceptable. All plans must be drawn to scale in either metric or imperial measurements. Remember, a good set of plans is the best way to see your project completed on time. Incomplete applications or drawings will not be accepted.

Q: Who should apply for the permit?
A: The homeowner. You may authorize your contractor or designer to apply for the permit. The Owner should ensure that they have the permit prior to any work starting.

Q: When is a building permit required?
A: For new construction addition, alterations, relocations, repairs, demolitions and rehabilitation of a building or structure. You must obtain a building permit for the following: - The construction or alteration of any freestanding structure over 10 square metres (108 square feet) in area. - New buildings - Additions, renovations or repairs to existing buildings - Demolition of part of all of a structure - Change a building's use - Renovate or install a bathroom or kitchen with plumbing work - Decks - New fireplace or install a wood burning stove - Covered or uncovered porches or decks/sunrooms - Enclose a porch or deck - Solariums - Attached or detached garages/Carports - Dormers - Any plumbing work - New or structural alterations to windows or doors - Adding or removing most walls - Basement or main floor walkouts - Swimming pools and hot tubs - Finished basements, with or without plumbing - Erect an engineered signs

Q: What information/drawings are needed for a building permit?
A: House Plans Site plan, including all setbacks and all buildings with their dimensions or gross areas; Elevation views; Structural framing details; Foundation plan, floor plans, cross sections; Roof plan for complex designs; Drainage and grading plan Addition to a House All requirements noted for a house, as well as a full and complete site plan for the entire lot (partials are not accepted) Foundation/floor plans and cross sections in include the adjacent structure Elevation views of all affected building sides Detached Garages and Sheds Full and complete site plan for the entire lot Foundation/footing and pier plan Floor plan Cross-section Elevation Views Decks Full and complete site plan for the entire lot Foundation/footing and pier plan Deck framing plan Guard and handrail details Cross section(s) Pools Site Plan, showing all setbacks to waters edge as well as all other structures on the property Fence detail, showing all gates and latches A pool is defined as: a privately owned outdoor pool of water for swimming, bathing, wading, or reflecting which is capable of retaining a water depth equal or greater than 600 mm (24 inches) at any point. Wood Burning Stoves For the installation of any wood burning appliance please ensure to include a detailed install plan and the manufacturers installation instructions. Demolitions/Move You need approval to move or demolish an exiting structure to ensure it complies with zoning by-laws A site plan of the entire property is required highlighting the structure(s) to be demolished

Q: Is a Heritage Permit necessary?
A: If your property is designated or you are located within designated heritage areas you may be required to obtain a heritage permit a well as a building permit. For more information or to verify whether a heritage permit is required, please contact Building Services or the Heritage Planner at 905 468-3266.

Q: How do I get an Electrical Permit?
A: The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake does not issue electrical permits. For information contact Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro at 905 468-4235. Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro is located at 8 Henegan Road, Virgil.

Q: Are there other approvals that are needed?
A: You may be required to contact another agency for approval prior to having a permit used to you, such as: - Municipal Heritage Committee - Niagara Regional Health Department (Septic system permits) - Niagara Escarpment Commission - Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority - Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Works Department (Entrance Permits) - Niagara Regional Works Department (Entrance Permits)