Below is a list of questions you may have about rebuilding or repairing flood damage in your home. Please contact City of Ottawa's Building Code Services if:
- You are unsure whether you need a Building Permit
- Your home or any other structure on your property has experienced structural damage
- You want to arrange for a Building Inspector to visit your property
- You have any questions at all about rebuilding, or need clarification on any of these points
Phone: 613-580-2424 ext. 29312, between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm for any Flood/Tornado Building Code Services related inquiries.
How do I obtain a Building Permit?
A Building Permit may be obtained by visiting any Building Code Client Service Centre. The hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- 110 Laurier Avenue West
- 255 Centrum Boulevard
- 101 Centrepointe Drive
- 580 Terry Fox Drive
- Metcalfe, 8243 Victoria Street, open one day a week on Tuesdays
- Kinburn, 5670 Carp Road, open one day a week on Wednesdays
- North Gower, 2155 Roger Stevens Drive, open one day a week on Thursdays
My home or cottage has been damaged as a result of flooding. Do I require a Building Permit for the associated repairs?
If your home or cottage has experienced any of the following, a Building Permit is required:
- Soil erosion adjacent to foundations, settlement of piers or posts, deformation or deflection of structure.
- Removal of interior finishes and insulation, vapour barriers or air barriers where flood waters have enveloped the lowest habitable floor level.
- Removal or replacement of structural framing, including support posts, piers, cribbing, beams and joists.
A Building Permit is not required for the following repairs:
- Replacement of flooring.
- Removal of drywall or other interior finish to permit drying of insulation.
- Replacement of windows or doors one-for-one in the same location and size.
- Replacement of cladding (siding, brick, etc.), deck boards or shingles.
- Reinstalling displaced exterior stairs, landings or decks that are less than 1.2 metres (approx. 4 feet) in height from grade.
- Reinstalling displaced accessory buildings such as sheds that are less than 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet) in area.
There are many other repairs that may be undertaken without requiring a Building Permit.
How do I know if my septic system has been damaged as a result of the flood?
Your septic system should be used sparingly until the groundwater level has dropped below the level of the drain field and tank. If surface water is still present above the drain field and tank, the septic system should not be used. If you are concerned that the flood may have damaged your septic system, please contact the Ottawa Septic System Office (613-692-3571, firstname.lastname@example.org) to obtain more information.
The Ottawa Septic System Office, of the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority co-ordinates the review and approval of any septic system installed, altered or repaired, anywhere in Ottawa.
My home’s foundation is showing signs of structural damage. What should I do?
If structural damage is suspected, it is recommended that you contact a suitably qualified professional (such as a professional engineer) to assess the situation and provide direction on the required repairs.
Does the City of Ottawa have copies of construction plans for my home?
Depending on the age of the home and its location, the City of Ottawa may have copies of the plans for the original construction and/or subsequent renovations. Copies of these plans may be viewed through the Access to Building Permit Records process.
Please note that some older Building Permit information may take several days to retrieve.
Do I need a building permit to reconstruct detached structures on my property?
A Building Permit is required for construction of any structure occupying a space larger than 10 square metres (approx. 108 square feet) in area. This includes reconstructing an existing structure.
When do I have to begin rebuilding structures on my property?
Buildings that have been damaged as a result of the flood are not necessarily subject to a timeline for reconstruction, however access to severely damaged structures must be reasonably restricted in order to ensure safety.
Can I rebuild my home on its existing foundation?
An existing foundation may be used when rebuilding a house provided the foundation is in good condition and capable of supporting the imposed loads. A professional engineer may be required to confirm if reuse of the existing foundation is appropriate.
Can I rebuild retaining walls that were damaged or destroyed in the flood?
Questions about rebuilding retaining walls for homes that lie within flood plains should be directed to the appropriate local Conservation Authority.
Note: Any changes to your lot grades, driveway and/or buildings may also require a permit from the local Conservation Authority.
What happens if I don’t get a building permit?
By authority of the Building Code Act, a property owner is required to obtain a Permit prior to construction or renovation. Obtaining a Building Permit ensures that the minimum standards for health and safety, fire protection, structural adequacy, energy performance, and accessibility are met. Failure to obtain a Building Permit for construction may result in enforcement under the authority of the Building Code Act and, in the case of a building failure or loss, insurance coverages may be void.
Do I need a Building Permit if my front porch was damaged?
A Building Permit is required for the structural repair of buildings, including their associated porches, sunrooms, additions and decks.
How do I arrange for a Building Inspector to attend my property for an inspection?
Building Code Services will conduct inspections of homes affected by the recent flooding in order to determine whether the homes are fit for safe occupancy and to provide information on the Building Permit process, as necessary. Inspections will be scheduled once the waters have receded to safe levels.
How quickly can an Inspector attend my home or business for an Inspection?
Once flood waters have receded to safe levels, Building Code Services will make every effort to attend to your home or business as promptly as possible. Inspections will be scheduled within one business day following a request; however, priority will be given to properties where flood damage has compromised the structural integrity of dwellings.
Do I need any approvals other than a Building Permit?
It is most likely that your property is in the flood plain overlay in the City’s Zoning By-law. Properties in the flood plain overlay should note the following considerations.
Home or cottage
Should you wish to move the location, increase the size and /or change the configuration of the building, you may need planning approvals through a Zoning By-law Amendment or Minor Variance.
Accessory Buildings (i.e. sheds, detached garages)
Provided the accessory buildings are further than 30 metres from the watercourse, only one storey, and the total floor area for all accessory buildings is less than 50 square metres, no planning approvals are required.
For accessory buildings that do not meet the criteria noted above, you may need planning approvals through a Zoning By-law Amendment or Minor Variance.
Be Careful When Pumping Out Flooded Basements
Removing all of the water at once may cause serious structural damage to the house.
The water must be drained slowly to equalize pressure on both sides of the wall. The water in your basement is pushing back. If you drain your basement faster than the water in the ground is draining, the outside pressure will be greater than the inside pressure and may cause the foundation, basement walls or floor to crack or rupture.
- Begin pumping when floodwaters are no longer covering the ground outside.
- Pump out one foot of water. Mark the water level and wait overnight.
- Check the water level the next day. If the level went back up (covered your mark) it is still too early to drain your basement.
- Wait 24 hours and then pump the water down one foot again. Check the level the next day.
- When the water in the basement stops returning to your mark, pump out two to three feet and wait overnight.
- Repeat daily until all the water is out of the basement.
- It is recommended, that for residents on sandy soils, during pumping of water from the basement the homeowner should keep an eye at the end of the discharge lines to ensure that sand is not being discharged along with water from the basement, as it may be an indication of the sand bearing soil being drawn from below footings. It is suggested, that when pumping water from the basement, to set pumps on the slab instead of pumping directly from the sump pit until the water in the basement has been removed.
For further information, please visit Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).