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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Building and Renovating

Inspections

Adding an Apartment

Pool Enclosure

Building and Renovating

 Where can I purchase a copy of the Ontario Building Code?

Please refer to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s web site. You may also visit the Service Ontario counter located at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West, to purchase a copy.

I’m thinking of finishing my basement. Do I need a Building Permit?

Yes, you may require a Building Permit. If your renovation activity includes installation, erection, extension or material alteration or repair, a Building Permit is required. You should refer to the following web pages for more information:

What Projects Require a Building Permit
What Projects Do Not Require a Building Permit
The Homeowner’s Building Application Checklist to Constructing a Residential Finished Basement 
Homeowner’s Guide to Small Projects

Where can I obtain information on how far my new addition and shed must be from my lot line?

The Development Information Officer (DIO) for your area will provide the zoning requirements for your property. The DIO can advise you on the required setbacks to lot lines, building height and lot coverage restrictions that will impact on the location of your new structure/addition. The DIO can also provide information on the process to obtain a variance or from the Zoning By-law regulations.

Where can I get a Building Permit Application Form?

You may download a copy of the form from the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s web page, or you may pick up a form at the Building Services counter at any Client Service Centre.

Can I apply for my permit at any Client Service Centre?

Yes, you may apply for a Building Permit at any of our Client Service Centres.

When the review of your application is complete and all requirements have been met, you or your agent will be notified by telephone, e-mail, fax, or regular mail, that the permit is ready for pick-up at the Client Service Centre that is most convenient for you. 

My construction project might affect my septic bed. What should I do?

If a septic system is affected, you must contact the Ottawa Septic System Office (OSSO) of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority to confirm the required setbacks from the septic bed and tank. Furthermore, if you plan to alter your septic system in any way, you must contact the OSSO, who will coordinate the review and approval process. They can also advise about their fees that may be applicable. Information packages and application forms are available from the OSSO office, or from our Client Service Centres.

I have purchased a new home, but I haven’t taken ownership yet. Can I apply for a Building Permit before the closing date?

Yes, you may apply for a Building Permit before you take possession of the house; however, you must provide proof of ownership before the permit can be issued, i.e. copy of deed.

Who is responsible for applying for the Building Permit?

It is the owner's responsibility to ensure that a Building Permit is obtained when required. You may authorize your contractor or designer to apply for the permit, but as the owner, you should ensure that they have the permit prior to starting any work. Many owners prefer to submit the application themselves to ensure the permit application is received by the City. In addition, this provides the owner with the opportunity to have questions answered by our Building Code staff. Both the owner and the builder/contractor are responsible for the process and are equally liable under the Ontario Building Code Act. Building permits are necessary to ensure that the minimum building standards for safety, structural sufficiency, accessibility, energy and water conservation, and other standards such as those set out in the zoning By-law are met.

I want to upgrade my electrical service. Do I need a Building Permit?

The City does not regulate electrical installations and thus a Building Permit is not required for work that is exclusively electrical. Information regarding electrical permits and standards should be directed to the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) at 1-877-372-7233.

How much does a Building Permit cost?

The Building Permit fee is established through the Building By-law No. 2014-220. As this fee is subject to change, please view the Fee Schedule for current rates.  The fee covers the cost of reviewing the construction plans for compliance with the Ontario Building Code and applicable laws, such as the zoning by-laws, the Heritage Act, etc., as well as the issuance of the permit and the required inspections of the construction at specific stages of completed construction. You may review a comprehensive list of Building Services Branch related fees on our Fee Schedule web page. Building Permit fees must be paid at the time the application is submitted.

Please note fees for farm buildings may be different. Please see our Fee Schedule web page and the Rural Connections web pages for more information.

Your project may also be subject to development charges, including education development charges. Development Charges vary based on the type of proposed construction, the location of the proposed construction, etc. Development Charges are calculated once the review of your application is completed, (i.e., zoning, grading and Building Code reviews have been completed), prior to issuing the Building Permit. Development Charges are calculated at the time the permit is issued.

If your project requires a septic system, you will need to apply to the Ottawa Septic System Office for a septic permit and fees will be required for that process.

What does the Building Permit fee cover?

Building Permit fees are set to cost recover all costs associated with servicing Building Permits and enforcing the Building Code Act and Building Code. Building Permit fees cover the cost of reviewing the construction plans for compliance with the Ontario Building Code and applicable laws, such as the zoning by-law, the Ontario Heritage Act, etc., in addition to the issuance of the permit, the required inspections of the construction at specific stages of completed construction and the occupancy permit.

Once I have applied for the Building Permit to construct my shed, how long will I have to wait for my permit to be issued?

Once the building permit application form, fees, and all submission requirements have been received and deemed complete, we require approximately five working days to review the documentation and advise whether the Building Permit will be issued or not. If not, we will provide a deficiency letter outlining the elements that must be addressed before the permit can be issued. It is not possible to predict beyond the five-day turnaround time, as your timeliness in responding to our letter of deficiency will dictate the timing of the issuance of the permit. Thus, the more complete and comprehensive your application and submission documents, the quicker the permit review process will be.

To help you ensure that your application is complete, please review the following information that explains the permit review process.

Once the Building Permit has been issued, how long do I have before I must begin to construct?

Construction can commence once the building permit has been issued. The construction must seriously commence within six months of the building permit being issued, or the permit can be revoked.

I have applied for and received my Building Permit and I have started to construct the project, but I want to know how long I have to complete the project. 

If the construction has been substantially suspended or discontinued for more than a year, the building permit may be revoked.

I’ve been issued my building permit. Do I have to post it somewhere? 

Yes, you must post your Building Permit for the duration of construction, in a visible location on-site in order to permit the public and the Building Inspector to view the permit.

What should I do if I think my neighbour is building without a permit?

If you suspect that construction is proceeding without a building permit and you wish to take further action, please contact our Call Centre directly by calling 3-1-1, (613-580-2400), Toll-Free: 866-261-9799, TTY: 613-580-2401 and ask to make a 'Request for Service.' This will officially record your concerns and provide you with a reference number to track your request. Please indicate whether or not you wish to be contacted following the investigation.

Do I need a building permit to widen my driveway?

Private Approach Permit is required for new driveways, for the closure of a driveway (with the exception of those approved through Site Plan or Subdivision Plan process), and for a driveway widening.  Private Approach Permit applications are available at Client Service Centres.

A building permit is not required; however, zoning regulations and/or site plan control may impose restrictions on the width and location of your driveway. You can obtain this information from a Development Information Officer (DIO) for your area. You may also wish to review the deed of transfer of your property (title documents provided by your solicitor following the purchase of your home) as the deed may include restrictions that will also apply, particularly if your home is part of a cooperative development, a condominium development or a multi-residential project.

Can I install a garburator?

Please note the Sewer Use By-law No. 2003-514 prohibits the use of garbage grinders (also called garburators) within the City of Ottawa.

If I turn my hardware store into a pub, do I need a Building Permit?

Yes, you require a building permit if you intend to change any portion of an existing lot, building or structure, including the way it is currently used. By obtaining a building permit, you ensure that your premise is equipped with the prescribed washrooms, fire exits and other safety standards that are required for your proposed use.

Where can I get information about the GST/HST rebate for New Housing Construction?

The GST/HST Rebate for New Housing Construction is a program administered by the Government of Canada. For your reference, please find links and telephone numbers to the Government of Canada's Revenue Agency below:

GST/HST New Housing Rebate

Forms Line: 1-800-959-2221
Info Line: 1-800-959-5525

I want to build a fence. Do I need a permit?

A building permit is not required to build or replace your fence, however, you are required to comply with the Fence By-law 2003-462. The Fence By-law sets out minimum standards for the installation, maintenance and repair of fences and institutes a "good neighbour policy" where the more attractive side of the fence must face toward the neighbouring property and street.  For more information, please visit the Fence By-law web page.

However, if the fence is to be used as a Pool Enclosure, you will require a Pool Enclosure Permit.  Please visit the Pool Enclosure web page for more information.

I want to build a deck. Do I need a permit?

A building permit is required for a deck that is attached or adjacent to a building having a walking surface of greater than 24" above adjacent grade. Other decks, not described above, that have a walking surface greater than 24" above adjacent grade and area greater that 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet) also require a building permit. For more information, please visit our Sundeck web page.

Regardless of whether or not a building permit is required for your deck, you should contact the Development Information Officer (DIO) for your area to determine whether or not your proposed deck will meet the zoning requirements for your property, mainly the setback to lot lines. You may contact the Development Information Officer for your area by telephoning our Call Centre at 3-1-1, or by visiting the Client Service Centre that is closest to your home address.

I want to build a shed. Do I need a permit?

Construction of a building, including the installation of pre-fabricated buildings, occupying an area greater than 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet) requires a building permit. For more information, please visit our Accessory Building web page.

Regardless of whether or not a building permit is required for your shed, you should contact the Development Information Officer (DIO) for your area to determine whether your proposed shed will meet the zoning requirements for your property, such as setbacks to lot lines, and restrictions to building height and lot coverage. You may contact the Development Information Officer for your area by telephoning our Call Centre at 3-1-1, or by visiting the Client Service Centre that is closest to your home address.

Where do I find information on Solar Panels/Solar Domestic Hot Water systems and building permit requirements?

Please refer to Permit Requirements for Green Buildings for further information on Solar Collector InstallationSolar Domestic Hot Water and on Fees.

Building Inspections

How do I contact the Building Inspector assigned to my project?

The Building Inspector's name and phone number is printed on the issued building permit.

What inspections are required for my home renovation project?

Several inspections are required during construction to ensure that all work is done according to the permit plans and the Ontario Building Code. For a list of required inspections, please refer to our web pages.

How do I book my Building Permit inspections?

Please refer to our Booking Inspections web page for details. Remember, the name and telephone number for your Building Inspector is printed on your Building Permit.

Adding an Apartment

I wish to build a secondary dwelling unit. Do I need to apply for a building permit?

You need a building permit, before construction begins if you are building a new dwelling unit in an existing dwelling and new construction includes:

  • an addition
  • the enlargement of any window
  • addition of a new exterior door, or
  • a new internal shared entrance

In some cases where a basement apartment is created, only a plumbing permit may be required.

If you are building a secondary dwelling unit as part of new construction in a detached, semi-detached or duplex dwelling, the building permit process will deal with the entire development.

In both cases, we advise you to review your plans with a Building Official at any of the City's Client Service Centers before beginning construction.

What size unit can I build?

The secondary dwelling unit must be:

  • no greater than 40 percent of the gross floor area of the principal dwelling. If you are building a basement unit, there is no maximum size.
  • subsidiary to the principal dwelling unit. 

Do I need an additional parking space for the secondary dwelling unit?

No. Parking can be accommodated on-site, and is allowed in the existing driveway. However, front yard parking for a secondary dwelling unit is not allowed.

Will my property taxes increase if I build a secondary dwelling unit?

If the value of your property increases as a result of building a secondary dwelling unit, your property tax increase should be relatively small. If you would like more detailed information about property assessment, please contact MPAC toll free at 1-866-296-MPAC (6722).

I own a home with an existing secondary dwelling unit. What does the Zoning By-Law mean for me?

The Zoning By-Law means that your existing unit is now legal, as long as it is built within a detached, semi-detached or duplex dwelling.

However, if the unit does not meet one or more of the new zoning regulations, in order to bring the unit into compliance, you must either:

  • make modifications to your building or property to comply, or
  • seek a variance to the regulation(s) through the Committee of Adjustment.

In addition, your existing unit may not meet the requirements under other municipal By-Laws and Codes, including:

While the By-law cannot require that any existing unit be brought up to the Building and Fire Codes and zoning regulations, previously built units may eventually become known to the City for a variety of reasons,whether through a neighbour's complaint, required disclosure by real estate agents at the time of sale, or upon the renewal of a mortgage.

Please note:

In six of the former 11 municipalities, secondary dwelling units were already permitted before the Zoning By-Law became effective; therefore, these units keep their legal status.

However, if these units do not meet the requirements of Building or Fire Codes. You will be required to either make modifications or seek a variance as described above.

This exception applies to existing units in:

  • Cumberland-Urban
  • Gloucester
  • Nepean-Urban
  • Osgoode
  • Goulbourn
  • West Carleton

To find out more, please call 3-1-1 and ask to speak to a Development Information Officer to determine if your existing unit meets the Zoning By-Law, and a Plans Examiner to make sure your unit complies with the Building and the Fire Codes.

Is there any area of the City that does not allow secondary dwelling units?

Yes, in the former Village of Rockcliffe Park. Also, units are not allowed in duplex dwellings in the Queensway Terrace North neighbourhood.

Is there any financial assistance available to build a secondary dwelling unit in my home?

Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation offers the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program - Secondary/Garden suite (RRAP) to assist in the creation of affordable housing for low-income seniors and adults with a disability.

The RRAP provides financial assistance to eligible applicants to convert/develop existing residential properties that can reasonably accommodate a secondary self-contained unit.

More information about eligibility and financial assistance is available from the CMHC.

 Pool Enclosure

We already have a fence constructed in our backyard. Do I still need to get a Pool Enclosure Permit?

Yes, you must obtain a Pool Enclosure Permit to ensure that your existing enclosure or fence meets the requirements of the Pool Enclosure By-Law No. 2013-39.

I want to install a pond in my backyard. Do I need a permit?

Yes, you are required to obtain a Pool Enclosure Permit if the pool of water for swimming, bathing, wading or reflecting is capable of retaining a water depth equal to or greater than 600 mm (24 in) at any point. The Pool Enclosure By-Law No. 2013-39 can be viewed on our Web site.

I want to install a hot tub. Do I need a permit?

Yes, you are required to obtain a Pool Enclosure Permit if the pool of water for swimming, bathing, wading or reflecting is capable of retaining a water depth equal to or greater than 600 mm (24 in) at any point. The Pool Enclosure By-Law No. 2013-39 can be viewed on our Web site.

I am installing a hot tub with a lockable lid. Do I require a Pool Enclosure Permit?

Yes, you must obtain a Pool Enclosure Permit even if the lid of the hot tub is one that locks. A permit is needed to ensure the lid meets the requirements of the By-law.

The Pool Enclosure By-Law No. 2013-39 states that a Pool Enclosure Permit is required if the pool of water for swimming, bathing, wading or reflecting is capable of retaining a water depth equal to or greater than 600 mm (24 in) at any point. This By-Law applies to a hot tub that meets the criteria irrespective of whether the lid is lockable or not.

I want to fill in my in-ground swimming pool. Is a permit required?

A permit to demolish is not required. You are reminded that when dismantling the pool you must ensure that you do not adversely affect your neighbours' property. The grading of your property must not be modified without municipal approval.

You may backfill the pool with soil/gravel. If you have any further questions regarding the content of backfill to be used, please contact the Ontario Ministry of Environment office at 613-521-3450.