Skip to main content

Planning Your Project

Getting Started

To plan your project you will need to:

  1. Meet with a Development Information Officer to discuss zoning regulations. Consult the planning and development webpage for additional information on approvals.
  2. Prepare your Building Permit Application Package for submission by including:
    1. Application for a Permit to Construct or Demolish
    2. Applicable Fee
    3. Two complete sets of detailed plans that are legible and drawn to conventional scale
    4. Grading plan
    5. Infill Tree Conservation Program requirements if applicable
    6. Septic system requirements if applicable
    7. Review and address applicable law as required?
  3. Apply for a Building Permit
  4. Review Process and Timelines
  5. Obtain and post your permit in a visible location
  6. Construction Fencing
  7. Contact your inspector prior to starting construction
  8. Arrange for required inspections at various stages of construction

Obtaining a building permit can in some cases be a complicated process. If you feel you are not sufficiently familiar with the requirements and the preparation of drawings, we recommend that you hire an architect, qualified designer, or other knowledgeable individual experienced and familiar with the Ontario Building Code and municipal by-laws, to prepare your final plans and specifications. Before hiring a design consultant, please confirm their qualifications by contacting the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing or by accessing their on-line Public Registry (QuARTS).

If you have a good working knowledge of house construction and the Ontario Building Code, you may consider designing your own project. Many publications are available in bookshops, libraries and at lumber dealers that may assist you. You can purchase copies of the Ontario Building Code by contacting Orderline at 1-888-361-0003. The Building Code Act and regulations can also be viewed on the Province's website.

Examples of drawings in both metric and imperial are provided in this guide to illustrate the quality of submission necessary for a permit application. You can avoid delays in permit issuance if all drawings and specifications provide sufficient information for the Chief Building Official and/or Building Official to verify that the work will conform to the Ontario Building Code and other applicable law, such as the Zoning By-law, once constructed.

It is important to note that drawings for some pre-engineered structures require certification by a Professional Engineer licensed to practice in Ontario. Examples of buildings include: greenhouses and sheds. Whenever buying a prefabricated structure ensure that you are provided with a copy of the professionally sealed design drawings.

How detailed should your plans be?

You may draw your own plans. However, single line or pencil drawings are not acceptable. All plans must be drawn to scale in either metric or imperial measurements. Incomplete applications or drawings may not be accepted.

Content requirement for plans, drawings and specifications

Plans, drawings and specifications must provide sufficient information to enable the Chief Building Official and/or Building Official to determine whether the proposed construction, once completed, will comply with the requirements set out in the Ontario Building Code and other applicable laws.

The Building By-law Schedule B sets out the specifications and documents required to be submitted along with the application form. If you have any questions, the Building Official or Building Technical Support staff at the Client Service Centre counter will be pleased to assist you.

Generally:

  • All drawings must be on durable material, drawn to scale and fully dimensioned (sketches are not acceptable).
  • Original pencil drawings will not be accepted, photocopies of penciled drawings are acceptable.

Note: Your application form must be accompanied by the documents noted in Schedule "B" of the Building By-Law including:

  • Two sets of building plans
  • Two copies of your property survey or site plan

Your building plans may include:

  • Site plan
  • Foundation plan
  • Floor plans
  • Cross-section(s)
  • Elevation views
  • Structural framing details
  • Roof plan for complex designs
  • Drainage and grading plan

See specific Residential Construction Checklists for full details.

What is a site plan?

A site plan identifies buildings and other features in relation to property boundaries. The site plan must identify your existing house, other existing structures (i.e., garages, sheds, decks) and proposed additions or new structures.
Most or all of the information required for a site plan can be found on your property survey. You may have received a survey when you purchased your home. Plans of property can be obtained from the Ontario Land Registry Office.

The following information should be shown on a site plan:

  • Title and scale
  • Legal description
  • Street name
  • Driveway
  • Setbacks (distance) to overhead electrical wires and conductors from proposed structures
  • Property lines with dimensions
  • Setbacks (distance) to all property lines from all existing and proposed structures
  • Proposed construction (shaded)
  • Overall building dimensions,
  • Right-of-way and easements
  • Location of well and septic system (if applicable)

For interior renovations, an interior plan (key plan) may be required showing the location of both existing and proposed construction. The Building Official or Building Technical Support staff at the Client Service Centre counter will advise you.

What should be illustrated on a floor plan?
Floor plans are required for each floor level to be constructed and/or that is affected by your project. For additions to existing buildings, floor plans of all or part of the existing building may be required. The following information must be shown on a floor plan:

  • Title and scale
  • All room names or uses (e.g., kitchen, living room, bedroom)
  • Location of plumbing fixtures
  • Size, direction and spacing of structural members (joists, columns, beams and lintels)
  • Interior and exterior dimensions, including door and window sizes
  • General specifications/materials to be used
  • The extent and size of both the new and existing structures

Note: If your project includes the use of proprietary engineered floor joist systems, your submission must include a floor joist layout plan from the manufacturer.

What are roof framing details?

Roof and ceiling framing members must be clearly noted on the appropriate floor plan. Spans of all prefabricated roof truss and joist systems, including the location of all hip or girder trusses, must be shown. For other than simply supported spans, a detailed framing or roof truss layout provided by your truss supplier may be required.

Existing loading conditions can also affect structural design for building renovations and additions. The existing roofing and ceiling details should also be indicated.

What should a cross-section detail show?

A cross-section presents a view of a house along an imaginary cut, showing the structural elements of the building and exposing what is hidden behind the walls. Cross-sections through the proposed and existing structure(s) may be required to show building materials and how they relate to one another. The location of the cross-section is shown by the cross-section symbol on the floor plans.

The following information must be shown on a cross-section:

  • Title and scale
  • Room names
  • Heights and dimensions of doors and windows
  • Size and types of materials and finishes
  • Finished floor level and grades
  • Extent of existing house and proposed additions
What is an elevation view?

An elevation view is an illustration of a finished exterior of each side of the building or frontage. Elevation drawings are required for any project that may alter the exterior of your building.

The following information must be shown on an elevation:

  • Title and scale
  • Heights and dimensions of existing and new window and door openings
  • Exterior finishes and materials
  • Finished floor levels and grade
  • Extent of proposed addition and existing house
  • Overall height of building
  • Slope/pitch of new roofs
Grading Plan

A grading plan identifies the slope and drainage of the land with respect to the proposed building and surrounding properties. Depending upon the particulars of your proposed project, a grading plan may be required. When required, two copies of the proposed grading plan must be submitted along with your building permit application submission documents. The grading plan must be prepared by a professional Engineer, Engineering Technologist, or Land Surveyor licensed in Ontario. A grading plan will illustrate both the existing drainage pattern and the proposed drainage pattern.

A grading plan is required for all Building Permit Applications, in both rural and urban areas, where:

  • The proposed construction may adversely affect the existing drainage.
  • The proposed structure is a new building, an addition, or accessory structure greater than 55m2 (592 square feet).
  • The proposed structure is within 1.2 metres (4') of the property line.
  • Installation of a pool located is within 1.2 metres of the property line.

Additional Information

The exceptions to the above are as follows:
A separate grading plan is not required for the following projects; however, the site plan submitted must clearly identify all existing and proposed buildings and structures, including setbacks to property lines, easements and service utility locations.

  • Construction of any second floor addition to an existing structure.
  • Construction of a one-storey addition or detached accessory building 55 m² (592 square feet) or less in footprint area and set back greater than 1.2 metres (4') from all property lines.
  • Construction of a balcony, deck, porch or veranda set back greater than 1.2 metres (4') to all property lines.
  • Construction of any structure considered a permitted projection in the Zoning By-Law including a fireplace or chimney.

Grading plans that incorporate a septic system must include a septic permit obtained from the Ottawa Septic System Office (OSSO). The septic permit must be obtained before the building permit application is submitted.

Who to contact: Building Code Client Service Centre or 3-1-1
Where to apply: Building Code Client Service Centre
Application Form: Permit to Construct or Demolish

Building or renovating in a mature neighbourhood

There are many challenges to building or renovating a property in an established area. Unlike construction in new development areas where most dwellings are still vacant, developing properties in mature neighbourhoods requires the cooperation and patience of everyone in the vicinity. Our goal is to help you realize your dream without costly errors, disputes and delays.

This guide provides information about everyone's roles and responsibilities. Your construction project will run more smoothly if you remember to be aware, proactive and respectful.

Building or Renovating in a Mature Neighbourhood brochure [ PDF 1.577 MB ]

The Basics:

  • Land owners have the right to enjoy their property but are also obliged to comply with all current construction legislation
  • Choosing your design and building professionals is a crucial step in assuring the quality of your project – be confident that you have selected the best contractor for your job
  • Building Code Services does not have the formal authority to resolve private contractual disputes between owners and their contractors

Owners and Contractors

  • Obtain a building permit prior to construction or demolition and post it on site
  • Call your Building Inspector before you start construction activities and be aware of all required inspections
  • Read and understand all Committee of Adjustment's approval conditions where applicable
  • Read and understand by-laws affecting connections to the City's sewers
  • Be familiar with the regulations for Road Cut and Private Approach Permits
  • Obtain approval prior to blocking a street
  • Read and understand by-laws regarding noise, parking and storing of construction materials
  • As an owner obtain all permit related documents including inspection reports from your contractor and retain for future reference
  • Be aware of grade changes during construction causing drainage onto adjacent lots
  • Consult the Infill Tree Conservation brochure for regulations concerning the protection of trees
  • Examine excavations for possible undermining of adjacent building's footings (angle of repose).  See diagram.
  • Ensure you are aware of any sensitive soil conditions on your property that may affect construction
  • Provide washroom facilities or access to a public one for your workers
  • Leave your work site in a neat and safe condition at the end of each work day
  • Install construction fencing to deter unwanted entry onto the job site
  • Comply with Hydro Ottawa’s required clearances from overhead power lines Build Smart, Build SafeDeveloper’s guide to clearances
  • Owe a duty to identify designated substances which may be hazardous to workers on a construction or demolition site by virtue of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).  Consult Owner’s Duties.

You and your neighbours

  • Be respectful and exercise common courtesy to your neighbours
  • Refrain from playing loud music or operating equipment in the early morning, evening or on weekends
  • Visibly identify property lines
  • Talk to your adjacent neighbours:
    • Before excavating near property lines, especially if a neighbour's trees, tree roots, fencing or structures are nearby
    • When there may be temporary road blockages due to construction activities
    • Before entering onto adjacent lands or using their water supply
  • Identify structures on neighbouring properties to ensure your construction will not damage sheds, fences or other structures
  • Make an effort to know the parking restrictions in your neighbourhood

Building Code Services provides:

  • Land use guidance by Development Information Officers, prior to building permit application
  • Assistance to applicants to navigate the administrative and technical requirements of obtaining a building permit
  • Review of permit plans
  • The building regulatory process
  • Required building inspections
  • Complaint related investigations via a Request for Services referral process (Call 3-1-1)

For information regarding the following services please call 3-1-1 or visit:

  • Road Cut/Temporary Encroachment
    Private Approach /Temporary Lane Closure
    Contact: Right of Way Office

Building Permit Information

External Contacts

Residential Sample Drawings

Are you planning to add a garage to your home, to construct a basement rec room, to install a woodstove, or to build a shed for backyard storage? Are you thinking of adding a deck to your back yard or installing a pool? If you are considering improvements to the exterior or interior of your home, then the following Homeowner's Building Application Checklists and Sample Plans will provide you with an overview of what you should know before you begin to construct. This information will help you prepare a building permit application by detailing what drawings you may need to submit, including: site plan, foundation plan, floor plan, elevations, and cross sections. The checklist also outlines the inspections you are required to obtain and when you are expected to contact your Building Inspector.

These checklists complement the information provided on our Building Code and Building Permit web pages. We suggest that you view these pages for more detailed information, such as fees, other required approvals and links to the Ontario Building Code web site.
 

Who to contact: Building Code Client Service Centre or 3-1-1
Where to apply: Building Code Client Service Centre
Application Form: Permit to Construct or Demolish

Other Agencies and Resources

Electrical Permits and Inspections

The City of Ottawa does not issue electrical permits or perform inspections. Please contact the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).

The City does not regulate electrical inspections; however the distance to electrical conductors (i.e. hydro lines) must be shown on the site plan.

Hydro

Depending on the scope of your renovation or construction project you may need to ensure the necessary clearances are met by your service provider.

Conservation Authorities

Depending on your location and nature of your project conservation authority approval may be required. Please contact one of the following that applies:

Construction and Safety Resources

Here are some additional information on construction materials and other references of labour standards.

Governing Bodies

Professional Agencies

Other Applicable Law

Your project or proposed construction must always comply with other applicable law in accordance with the Ontario Building Code. The following provides a list of applicable laws; however, it does not constitute every approval that may be required. For more information, please refer to the Ontario Building Code 1.4.1.3 Applicable Law (as amended).

APPLICABLE LAWS
Conservation Authorities Act s.38 Where construction is in a fill regulated area or flood plain or may interfere with a watercourse. Contact: Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, 692-3571Mississippi Conservation Authority, 259-2421South Nation Conservation Authority, 984-2948
Environmental Protection Act. s. 46 Where building requires confirmation of waste disposal site. Minister's approval required under the MOE
Environmental Protection Act. s. 168 Where industrial or commercial property is changed to residential use. A record of site condition to be filed with MOE, conformance to Certificate of Property Use. MOE Contact: 1-800-565-4923
Ontario Heritage Act, s. 33, 34 Consent of Council to alter or demolish where property is designated under the Act. Contact: Lesley Collins, Heritage Planner extension 21586 or Sally Coutts, Heritage Planner extension 13474
Ontario Heritage Act, s. 42 Where land is designated in a heritage conservation district, heritage permit issued by Council. Contact a Development Information Officer
Planning Act, s. 34 or 38 Compliance with Zoning By-Laws Contact: Development Information Officer
Planning Act, s. 45 Minor Variance where an application does not comply with all local zoning provisions, final and binding decision by the Committee of Adjustment may be required. Contact: 613-580-2436
Planning and Development Act, s.14 Where Provincial planning control has been applied Contact: MMAH, Eastern Office 1-800-267-9438
Planning Act, Zoning s.34 By-Law Amendment Where proposed development requires an amendment to local zoning provisions
Public Lands Act, O.Reg 453/96 Ministry of Natural Resources consent required authorizing construction on public land. 1-800-667-1940 
Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act, s.34 or 38 Where construction is adjacent to a highway, Building and Land Use Permit is required from Ministry of Transportation. MTO contact: 613-745-6841
Site Plan Approval, Planning Act. s. 41 Requirement for Site Plan Control By-Law No. 2002-4. Contact a Development Information Officer

The Demolition Control By-law affects some properties located in the City of Ottawa. Upon review of your application, your Building Official will advise you regarding any additional applicable laws that affect your project.

Plans for the renovation of a building designated under Part IV of the Heritage Act must comply with the requirements set out in the Act before a building permit can be issued. This link will provide more information on the requirements for construction with heritage implications.

A building permit cannot be issued unless the proposed use of the new building will comply with the zoning designation or if the proposed addition does not comply with the setback from property line requirements, as stipulated by the Zoning By-law. The following link provides basic concepts regarding the Planning Act and zoning By-laws.

Who to contact: Building Code Client Service Centre or 3-1-1
Where to apply: Building Code Client Service Centre
Application Form: Permit to Construct or Demolish

Call Before You Dig

Digging near Your House?

Before you dig, call Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 or visit their website.

The City and other services have underground locates running in many backyards, front yards and side lots. Underneath your house, you could find:

  • Gas pipelines
  • Electrical services
  • Telephone and cable TV infrastructure
  • Water and sewer connections
  • Streetlight or traffic signal wiring

Ontario One Call co-ordinates with all organizations who own infrastructure in your area.

Therefore, all residents and excavators must call before they dig. Locates are free to obtain and should be requested at least 5 days prior to any planned excavation. You may not proceed with your digging until all locates are identified. If locates are not obtained and infrastructure is damaged, the homeowner and/or contractor is 100 per cent responsible for all costs associated with repairs.

Do You Need Emergency Locates?

For emergency locates, please call Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255. As of June 15, 2014, the City of Ottawa will no longer action direct requests for locates.