The Whys and Hows of Building Permits
|The City of London's mandate is to ensure a safe, clean, healthy, functioning community which secures the well-being of its residents. That philosophy extends to the private and publicly-owned buildings of our community. By enforcing building codes, and assisting builders, designers and homebuilders, we ensure that the structures they create are safe not only for today, but for many years to come. Below you'll find answers to frequently asked questions concerning building permits including when they are required and how the application process works.
What is a building permit?
A building permit is a document which grants legal permission to start construction of a "building," as defined by the Building Code Act of Ontario .
What is a building?
The Building Code Act of Ontario defines a building as: a structure occupying an area greater than 10
m2 (108 sq. ft.) consisting of a wall, roof and floor, or any of them or a structural system serving the function thereof including all plumbing, works, fixtures and service systems appurtenant thereto, a structure occupying an area of 10
m2 (108 sq. ft.) or less that contains plumbing, including the plumbing appurtenant thereto, (c) plumbing not located in a structure, a sewage system or
designated structures as defined in the building code.
The Building Code Act states that: no person shall construct or demolish or cause a building to be constructed or demolished in a municipality unless a permit has been issued therefore by the Chief Building Official. The Building Code Act also defines construct to mean the doing of anything in the erection, installation, extension, material alteration or repair of a building which also includes installation of a building unit fabricated or moved from elsewhere.
What construction projects need building permits?
A building permit is required for any new building greater than 10m2 (108
sq ft), any addition to an existing building, any material alterations to an existing building which
affects: the structural design of the building; mechanical; electrical; plumbing services (no limit on size of building); fire separations; exiting; fire protection systems; and the use of buildings or parts thereof. Below you will find a list of typical residential and commercial/industrial/institutional projects that require a building permit:
For residential dwelling units
(single family, semi-detached and row housing), projects requiring a building permit include:
- decks greater than 600mm (24 inches) above ground or serving the principal entrance for dwelling units
- interior structural alterations
- adding or removing most walls, (i.e., creating different room sizes and/or uses)
- basement or main floor walkout alterations
- replacement of brick veneer
- attached or detached garages, sheds
- replacement of masonry chimney below roofline
- dormers or finishing of attic space
- installation of irrigation systems
- installation, repair of storm, sanitary and water service
- finishing a basement or a portion thereof
- furnace and ductwork replacements
- installation of
- conversion from septic to sanitary sewer
- plumbing and/or drains (except replacing fixtures)
- insulating exterior walls when exterior or interior cladding is removed
- new or structural alterations to windows or doors
- installation or repair of private sewer systems and water service
- installation of backflow preventers for lawn irrigation systems
work related to fire damage
For all other buildings, (Commercial, Industrial, Institutional
), projects requiring a building permit include:
- change of use (where construction is proposed or the change constitutes an increase in
the hazard index)
- interior renovations within a floor area affecting fire separations, exits or structural capacity
- interior finishing of shell buildings for tenants (ie. occupancies in commercial or industrial malls and office buildings, etc.)
- fire and water damage affecting interior renovations within a floor area affecting fire separations, exits or structural capacity
- additions to any building having a combined area of 10m2 (108 sq. ft.) or more
- installations and major alterations of sprinkler, standpipe, fire alarm or mechanical (HVAC) systems
- plumbing installation and alterations, except replacement of fixtures
- installation or replacement of storm and sanitary sewers, water service (ie. catch basins, weeping tile, clean-outs, change from septic system to sewers)
- installation and repairs to sewage systems (septic systems and holding tanks)
- installation of back flow preventers
- retaining walls exceeding 1 metre (3 ft.- 3 inches) in exposed height adjacent to public property, to an access to a building, or on private property to which the public is admitted
- tents greater than 60m2 (645 sq. ft.)
What projects do NOT require a building permit?
A building permit is not required for a detached accessory structure (gazebo, tool shed, etc.) which measures less than 10m2 (108 sq ft) in area. Below is a list of other projects that do not require a permit. Note: Although a building permit may not be required, you must still comply with the requirements of the Zoning By-law and Ontario Building Code requirements.
- fences (other than for swimming pools)
- decks not forming part of a principle entrance to a dwelling unit and less than 600mm (24 inches) above grade
- asphalt roof shingling
- eaves troughs
- minor repairs to masonry
- damp proofing basements
- air conditioning units or heat pumps added to existing forced-air systems
- kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing
- free-standing satellite dishes
- replace existing forced-air furnace (no duct work alterations)
- replacing siding or windows (provided there are no structural changes)
- pool heaters
- painting and decorating
Why are building permits needed?
Permits ensure that construction within our municipality meets with standards set out in the Ontario Building Code. In addition, building permits are necessary to ensure that other applicable laws such as zoning by-laws, site plan control by-laws etc. are complied with.
Who should apply?
It is the property 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 you have the permit prior to starting work.
What services are provided by the Building Division?
The Building Division reviews all applications for building permits to ensure compliance with
all applicable zoning by-laws and building code requirements.
As well, we perform those inspections as mandated by the Building Code Act, upon notification to ensure work complies with
the approved plans and the Ontario Building Code. Our plan examiners, building
inspectors and zoning officers are available to answer any questions you may
Building Permits Home Owner's Guide and Building Permits - Home Builders' Guide explain the City's approval process, including the various regulations involved in a variety of projects. For additional information call
How do I apply?
|Step 1||Visit the Building
Division at City Hall, Room 706, or call (519) 661-4555. An application for a building permit along with other related information will be given to you at this time.
You can also download the forms from our
Submit application The permit application requires information about the construction project. You
will be asked to document who will perform the work, what work will be done, where the work will be done, and how the work will be done. Scaled drawings, plans or other documentation of the proposed work will have to be submitted for review. Included with the submission, the plans must have the designer's B.C.I.N. registration number, except where a home owner is preparing their own drawings or for residential accessory structures under 30m2 (538
sq ft) Your application form should be brought to the Building Division counter accompanied by the following:
- two sets of building plans drawn to scale suitable for examination (floor plans, elevations and cross-sections, roof trusses and heating, as appropriate)
- two copies of your property survey or site plan
- a building permit fee payable by cash, Interact Direct Payment, or cheque, payable to City Treasurer (cheques for fees and charges need not be certified).
Note: Incomplete applications or plans will not be accepted.
What is the cost of a building permit?
Building permit fees depend on the floor area and type of building being constructed or altered. The minimum permit fee for plumbing work only is $110.00
for all other types of work. Please contact the City of London Building Department at (519) 661-4555 for the updated fee schedule from the Building By-law for other types of construction.
You may also be required to submit an Undertaking For Damage to City Property
form to cover potential damage to city property. This form must be signed by the
owner of the property or the authorized agent.
What happens once the application is submitted?
|Step 1||A review process is initiated|
Permit applications are processed as quickly as possible dependent upon the nature of the work requested. Our Building Officials will determine if your project is in compliance with the Building Code, zoning and other municipal by-laws and provincial regulations through the following reviews:
Zoning Plans Examination
Drawings are reviewed to ensure your project will conform to the Zoning By-law. Zoning requirements specify the uses permitted within a particular area and contain regulations governing such things as building setbacks, height and lot coverage. You should contact a Zoning Plan Examiner (519)
930-3510 to determine the specific requirements for your building addition or alteration. The examiner requires your street address, lot number and registered plan number to establish the zoning requirements. This information can be found by checking your tax bill.
Architectural/Structural Plans Examination
Drawings are reviewed to ensure compliance with structural and life safety requirements of the Ontario Building Code.
Mechanical Plans Examination
Drawings are reviewed to ensure compliance with heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, drainage and private sewage system requirements of the Ontario Building Code.
Fire Prevention Examination
In the case of some multi-family residential, commercial, industrial and institutional applications with fire protection systems, an examination of permit drawings is conducted by the City of London Fire Prevention Office.
Receive results of the review process
If compliance with the building code, zoning and other applicable regulations is determined, the application is approved and a permit is issued. If compliance is a problem, you will be contacted by Building Division staff to assist in meeting requirements.
When can work start?
The building permit is the document granting legal permission to start construction. No work can start until the building permit is issued; this is normally no longer than a one-week process for residential building additions and alterations, depending upon the information submitted. For other types of buildings, the process time will depend on the nature of the work as well as the information submitted. For example, two weeks is the normal processing time for new single detached dwellings.
You must proceed with construction as approved by the application review process. The Building Code requires you to post the building permit in a window or other prominent place at the construction site, keep a copy of the building plans at the site, and bring any proposed changes to the attention of the Building Official immediately. Changes may require a review and approval in the same manner as the original application.
What inspections are required?
Each major phase of construction must be inspected by our Building Officials to make certain the work conforms to the Building Code, the building permit and the approved plans. The mandatory inspections required for your project will be indicated on the permit.
How do I get my project inspected?
Inspections do not happen automatically. It is your responsibility to ensure that either you or your contractor contacts the city to request an inspection at least 24 hours before work proceeds from one inspection stage to the next. Failure to have inspections performed may result in having to uncover and expose work for inspection or the commencement of legal action. Allow 48hrs notice for an inspection as specified by the building code.
The Building Division has an
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System operational seven days a week. This system can be used to schedule or cancel inspections, as well as to check the review status of your permit application and inspections, to obtain inspection results and to leave messages for the inspector. To access the IVR system dial
(519) 661-5284 from any touch-tone phone. You may also contact one of our Customer Service Representatives directly at (519) 661-4555 to arrange for your inspections.
You can interactively check the approval status and results of your building permit inspections as well as schedule or cancel an inspection. Using the
Building Permit Inspections Service
is easy - you simply enter the folder/application number and PIN provided when
you receive your permit.
If our Building Official finds that some work does not conform to the approved plans, he or she will advise (and, possibly, provide written notice) that the situation is to be remedied. If the violation is serious, a stop work order may be posted until the problem is resolved. Another inspection may be necessary before work is resumed.
Some things to consider when choosing a contractor
- Check for contractor's experience in the type of construction proposed.
Interview the contractor and check on previous jobs the contractor has
- Check the reliability of your chosen contractor with the Better Business Bureau.
- Arrange a contract and ensure the contract covers all the work including who prepares drawings and who arranges for inspections.
- Before signing the contract, check the drawings to ensure they comply with what you want. Also check specifications and materials proposed.
- Confirm the type of warranty that is being given, and, on a large contract, you may wish to obtain legal counsel before signing.
- Confirm whether the contractor is obtaining the building permit or if you are expected to handle the building permit. When the contractor is applying for the permit, make sure you see the permit card before allowing work to start.
- Please note that the Building Division has no jurisdiction to rectify
any contract disputes.