A guide to building permits for home owners and renovators
If you are planning home improvements, this guide will provide you with the information required to apply for a building permit.
Building permits are necessary to ensure the Ontario Building Code (OBC), zoning requirements and other building standards are met. Building permit applications are reviewed by the Permit Services team to confirm compliance with the OBC and to ensure these minimum requirements are met.
An added benefit of obtaining a permit is receiving assistance from Building Services staff. Another benefit is to ensure you, or the person you have hired, builds a product that meets the minimum standards as set out in the OBC and other applicable legislation.
Whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure a building permit is obtained, the required inspections are called for and any infractions are corrected.
Starting construction without a permit is illegal and is a Provincial Offence. Ensure a permit has been issued prior to starting any work.
Brochures and/or sample drawings are available for some construction projects. These brochures contain specific zoning and building information and identify specific drawing requirements. Please visit guelph.ca/building for further information or contact our office.
Property taxes are based on the assessed value of a property. The City of Guelph does not conduct property assessments. Please contact the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation for more information.
Planning your project
If you feel that your project is too complicated to handle yourself, we recommend that you retain the services of a qualified designer to prepare your drawings and specifications.
Some elements or structures may need to be designed by an Architect or Professional Engineer.
All work indicated on your drawings must conform to the Ontario Building Code, City of Guelph Zoning By-law and all other applicable law. If your proposal does not comply with the Zoning By-law, you may apply for and obtain approval from the Committee of Adjustment for a minor variance.
Building permit requirements
A building permit is generally required for most renovation and construction projects. Below is a list of some of the more common projects which require a building permit.
- Building a deck, porch or balcony (See note 1)
- Building a sunroom
- Building an addition (See note 1)
- Installing a pool or hot tub (See note 1)
- Building a garage or carport (attached or detached) (See note 1)
- Building a shed (greater than 10 square metres/107 square feet) (See note 1)
- Altering a roof structure
- Altering a foundation (under pinning)
- Adding or altering exterior stairs (See note 1)
- Replacing cladding
- Finishing a basement (See note 1)
- Creating an accessory apartment, in-law suite or basement apartment (See note 1)
- Adding dormers or finishing an attic space
- Installing new or enlarging existing windows or doors
- Structural alterations
- Adding or removing walls (load bearing or non-load bearing)
- Adding or altering a chimney or woodstove
- Adding or moving a kitchen or bathroom
- Changing the use of a building (e.g. establishing a home occupation, lodging house, bed and breakfast or changing any part of a building from one use to another)
- Installing new plumbing fixtures or relocating existing plumbing fixtures
- Installing a new septic system or repairs to an existing system
- Installation or repair of storm sewer, sanitary sewer and water service
- Installation of irrigation systems
- Major duct work alterations
- Installing a new heating or ventilation system
- Replacing a furnace when changing fuel source (e.g. converting from electric to gas)
- Demolition of a building or a portion of a building
- Demolition of any structure greater than 10 square metres/107 square feet
- Building Services does not issue electrical permits or carry out electrical inspections. Please contact the Electrical Safety Authority for information.
Applying for a building permit
You can apply for building permits online. The online portal is quick, convenient and secure. It will allow you to:
- Apply for building permits online
- Check the status of a building permit application
- Schedule or cancel inspections, and
- Check inspection results.
Please register at guelph.ca/building to create a user account. Please note: ensure to have your drawings ready prior to applying. The drawings must be attached in a PDF format.
The following items are required in order to apply for a building permit:
- A completed permit application form.
- Drawings drawn to a recognized scale (e.g.: ¼” = 1’-0”) and dimensioned to the outside of exterior walls. Single line drawings will not be accepted.
- A survey or site plan illustrating the lot width and depth, the locations of proposed construction and all existing buildings or structures on the property.
- Building permit fee. Please contact Building Services to assist you in determining the correct fee for your construction project or visit guelph.ca/building for the current fee schedule.
It may be determined that approvals from other City departments or external agencies are required prior to permit issuance. Some examples include City Council, Committee of Adjustment, Planning Services (site plan approval), Engineering Services, Heritage Guelph, Electrical Safety Authority, Ministry of Transportation and Grand River Conservation Authority. Should additional approvals be required, please contact the appropriate approval authority concerning timing, application forms, fees and procedures.
The approval process
Your application will be reviewed in order of submission. The approximate time to process your building permit application is 10 business days.
During this review process a Plans Examiner may identify deficiencies on the drawings or determine that additional information is required in which case the applicant will be notified.
When the review is complete and any deficiencies have been addressed, the building permit will be issued and mailed to the applicant and owner. If you applied online, the applicant will be notified by email once the permit is issued.
Construction may only start once the building permit has been issued. Please review the conditions which have been noted on your building permit and drawings. The permit and attachments should be available on the site.
Construction must be carried out in compliance with the approved plans and documents issued with your permit. Any deviation from the approved drawings must be reported to Building Services. A revised permit application and fees may be required. Once your permit is issued construction must start within one year and shall not remain inactive for any period of more than six months.
Mandatory inspections are required to ensure all work is completed according to the approved plans, including changes noted by the Plans Examiner. Your permit will include a list of mandatory inspections specific to your project.
Inspections do not happen automatically. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that you or your contractor contacts Building Services to book an inspection. Failure to have inspections performed may result in having to uncover and expose work for inspection.
Online inspection booking is now available. Please register for an account at guelph.ca/building. You can also call 519-837-5614 to book your inspection. If booked by 3 p.m., the inspection can be done the next business day.
An inspector will perform an inspection and a field report will be left on site or emailed to the applicant. If infractions are noted, these items must be corrected and a re-inspection booked to ensure that the infractions have been remedied. Once all mandatory inspections have been passed, the permit will be considered complete. All inspection reports are available online.
Monday to Friday (except public holidays) 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Summer hours (July 1 to Labour Day) 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Additional contact information
|Department or service||Phone|
|Committee of Adjustment||519-822-1260 extension email@example.com|
|City Clerk’s Officefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Call Before you Dig||1-800-400-2255|
|Electrical Safety Authority||1-877-372-7233|
|Grand River Conservation Authorityemail@example.com|
|Ministry of Transportation||1-416-235-5385|
|Municipal Property Assessment Corporation||1-866-296-6722|