Building permits and approvals

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Building permits and approvals

Additional Information

Building permits

The Ontario Building Code requires that property owners obtain a building permit prior to commencing construction (including renovations) or demolishing all or part of an existing building.

What requires a building permit?

Do I need a building permit?

Building permit applications

Common building permit applications are available online at the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Web site, or you can pick one up at any City of Ottawa Client Service Centre.

Agricultural facilities

The Canada Plans Service (CPS) is a national network of agricultural engineers and livestock specialists who plan, design and construct modern farm buildings. The CPS Web site offers downloadable plans to assist with your building permit application. The Ontario Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) also provide information: Construct or Renovate Farm Structures Business Information Bundle to assist with planning the construction or renovation of an agricultural building.

If you are planning to build or renovate a livestock barn or manure storage facility, be aware that farmers may be required to have an approved nutrient management strategy (NMS) and in some cases, a nutrient management plan (NMP) prior to starting a building project.

Your local OMAFRA Nutrient Management Specialist can provide details for the preparation and approval of a Nutrient Management Strategy. For more information, call The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) toll free Nutrient Management Information Line (1-866-242-4460).

Grants for farmers

Apply for funding for a Nutrient Management Plan or Turf Management Plan through the City’s Rural Clean Water Grants Program for projects that will protect surface water and groundwater quality and encourage effective use of available nutrient resources.


Fees are due when an application is submitted and are subject to change without further notice.

There is a special fee category for farm buildings or structures.

Civic numbering

The Addressing By-law 2014-78 sets out the size of the civic numbers required, how the civic number must be displayed, and the additional requirement for a blade sign (often referred to as a "9-1-1 blade") where the building is located more than 18 metres from the street. Civic numbers are assigned by the Municipal Addressing staff.

Demolition permits

You need to obtain a demolition permit to relocate or demolish an existing building or structure. Note that certain building types and interior partitions do not require a demolition permit. Special care also needs to be taken for abandoning a well or septic system. For further details, please call or visit a City of Ottawa Client Service Centre to speak with a Building Official.

Septic permits

The Ottawa Septic System Office (OSSO) of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority co-ordinates the review and approval of any septic system installed, altered or repaired, anywhere in Ottawa. Information packages that include the required application forms are available from OSSO, or from the City's Client Service Centres.

Alternatively, you may refer to the Ottawa Septic Office's website for their fees, application forms and other relevant information.

Required inspections

Inspections are required to determine whether the project has been constructed in compliance with the Ontario Building Code. A document detailing the required inspection stages will be provided when you receive the permit. When your project reaches an inspection stage, you are required to contact the building inspector identified on your permit to schedule the inspection.

Refer to Building Inspections for additional information and a complete list of requirements. Other inspections may also be required depending upon the nature of the work completed.

Farm and agricultural buildings may vary greatly in construction type and function. Certain site inspections are mandated through provincial regulation. The first inspection would normally be an excavation inspection prior to placement of concrete footings.

Compliance reporting

A compliance report provides owners and/or their authorized agents with information regarding a property's status with respect to compliance with development by-laws or agreements, in addition to a summary of building permit activity.

Development charges

Development charges are the fees levied on residential and non-residential properties within the City of Ottawa. Non-residential use buildings used for bona fide agricultural purposes are exempt from development charges. For more information including exemptions to the charges, refer to the questions and answers page.

Rural area and greenbelt zoning

The City of Ottawa Zoning By-law does not use “one size fits all” solutions - rural specific zones, sub-zones and provisions are used to reflect the unique characteristics of rural areas.

The Comprehensive Zoning By-law contains zoning designations for all areas of the City. However, a content section has been created to provide easy access to those sections that are applicable to the Rural and Greenbelt portions of the by-law.

To request significant changes to your property's zoning, you can apply for a zoning by-law amendment. If you need only a minor change in the requirements of the zoning, you may apply for a minor variance.

Consent (severance)

A consent is required if you want to sell (sever) or mortgage a portion of your land or enter into an agreement/lease for a period of 21 years or more.

Site plan control

Generally, Site Plan Control approval is required for commercial and industrial developments, for residential projects such as townhouse complexes and apartments, for certain changes in land use and for certain types of development in a Heritage Conservation District. Depending on the project you are undertaking, you may be required to apply for Site Plan Control prior to obtaining your building permit.

Pursuant to amending by-law 2011-152, a building or structure of any size for agricultural use is exempt from Site Plan Control. For more information on the definition of “agriculture use”, refer to the definition in the City of Ottawa Zoning By-law.

 Municipal Concurrence for Antenna Systems

Antenna systems such as amateur radio installations or television antennas are regulated by Industry Canada. As part of Industry Canada’s regulatory framework a person looking to install an antenna system must, prior to construction, receive concurrence for their proposal from the City of Ottawa, unless otherwise exempt. The City of Ottawa Municipal Concurrence and Public Consultation Process for Antenna Systems describes those types of installations for which concurrence is not required as well as the process to be followed where an application is required.

Other resources

Find more information on building permits or visit a Client Service Centre, call the City at 3-1-1, or e-mail

For more information on planning and development issues such as zoning by-law amendments, minor variances, consents (severances) or site plan control, visit a DIO (Development Information Officer) at any Client Service Centre, or you can call the City at 3-1-1.

Learn more about development applications currently under review by the City.

Regulations for the installation of hydronic heaters

Ottawa's by-laws will reduce the risks associated with hydronic heaters. As of Wednesday, September 26, 2012 new units must be:

  • Located in rural areas and not within villages,
  • Located on lots at least 8000 m2, except in the AG zone
  • Setback at least 15 metres from your property lines, or 30 metres if your property line is next to a road.
  • At least 60 metres from all dwellings on other properties
  • Have installed a permanent stack at least 3.66 metres above ground, or 4.88 metres if another dwelling is within 92 metres of your heater.

Note: These regulations apply to new hydronic heaters only. They do not apply to auto-feed pellet boilers.

Noncompliance with the by-law means you may be required to remove your heater, pay a fine, or apply for a minor variance.

Hydronic heaters are outdoor wood-burning boilers that burn wood or other approved solid fuels to heat water and buildings. Hot water from the device travels underground to a system where it is converted to heat. Hydronic heaters produce some smoke during start-up, refuelling and shut-down periods but will release abnormal amounts if misused, old or poorly maintained.

Tips for saving money and reducing smoke

  • Always follow the manufacturer's directions when running your heater
  • Starting the fire: Use newspaper and dry kindling. Never start a fire with gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter or a propane torch.
  • Burning wood: Burn well-seasoned fuel wood only.
  • Maintain airflow: Remove ashes which clog air intake and have your chimney annually cleaned by a certified chimney sweep.
  • Choose a more efficient model: Look for models certified for low emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency or Canadian Standards Association.
  • Increase insulation: Use insulated underground piping, chimney extensions and improve the insulation in your home.
  • Choose the right size heater: If the heater is too big for your home it will smoulder and create more smoke.
  • Fire Prevention: Use spark or arrester caps on the chimney and keep flammable materials and woodpiles away from the heater according to the manufacturer's specifications.

For more information on hydronic heaters visit these websites:

Contact us

For more information or for answers to questions please e-mail the Rural Affairs Office: