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. If you are planning to construct a new house within an existing built-up area of the city – otherwise known as infill housing – please refer to our infill house building permit application checklist for a list of submission requirements.
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 Ontario Building Code 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
- Building a sunroom
- Building an addition
- Installing a pool or hot tub
- Building a garage or carport (attached or detached)
- Building a shed (greater than 15 square metres/161 square feet)
- Building a gazebo (greater than 10 square metres/107 square feet)
- Building a pergola (more than 10 square metres/107 square feet) when more than 50% of the roof area is covered.
- Altering a roof structure
- Altering a foundation (under pinning)
- Adding or altering exterior stairs
- Replacing cladding
- Finishing a basement
- Creating an additional residential dwelling unit, in-law suite or basement apartment
- 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.
- Handouts or sample drawings may be available for items (Back to top)
- Although a building permit is not required, separate permits, approvals or requirements apply to curb cuts, driveway widening and fences.
Applying for a building permit
Building permit applications are required to be submitted online. Guelph Permit and Application System is quick, convenient and secure.
- Apply for building permits online
- Check the status of a building permit application
- Schedule or cancel inspections, and
- Check inspection results.
Please create an account through Guelph Permit and Application System. Please note: ensure to have your drawings ready prior to applying. The drawings must be attached in a vector-based PDF format (i.e. created electronically, not scanned). All files must be unsecured and not password protected.
The following items are required in order to apply for a building permit:
- 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. For smaller projects, a home owner may prepare their own drawings using graph paper and a ruler as long as they are drawn to scale.
- 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.
- Once your building permit application is deemed complete, you will be notified of the applicable building permit fee. Please 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.
Please book an inspection through the Guelph Permit and Application System. Please allow 48 hours’ notice for inspections.
An inspector will perform an inspection and a report will be 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.
For questions regarding inspections, please call 519-837-5614.
Before, during and after construction on private or public property, we must take measures to prevent damage and encourage long-term health of plants and trees on or near the site. Information regarding trees, including tree ownership and protection during construction, can be found at guelph.ca/trees.
|Building Services||519-837-5615||[email protected]|
- 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 p.m.
Additional contact information
|Department or service||Phone|
|Committee of Adjustment||519-822-1260 extension 2524||[email protected]|
|City Clerk’s Office||519-837-5603||[email protected]|
|Engineering Services||519-837-5604||[email protected]|
|Planning Services||519-837-5616||[email protected]|
|Call Before you Dig||1-800-400-2255||Not applicable|
|Electrical Safety Authority||1-877-372-7233||Not applicable|
|Grand River Conservation Authority||1-519-621-2761||[email protected]|
|Ministry of Transportation||1-416-235-5385||Not applicable|
|Municipal Property Assessment Corporation||1-866-296-6722||Not applicable|