Building permits--When and Why

When Required?

Under the Ontario Building Code Act Section 8-(1) No person shall construct or demolish or cause a building to be constructed or demolished unless a permit has been issued there for by the chief building official.

General Interpretations:

A permit is usually obtained when material structural changes alterations or additions are made to a building. Usually an addition is defied as being more than 10 sq. meters.

Permits can also be required when a building changes use from a lower to higher risk occupancy even if no construction or renovation occurs. 

Converting a large single family home into a triplex or a residential commercial use would also require a permit.  Adding or retrofitting an apartment in a single-family dwelling should be done by permit.

Individual municipal property standards bylaws may also require permit applications to ensure that local standards are met.  See B.C.A. 15-(3).

In the City of Toronto all contractors are required to be licensed and appropriately licensed subcontractors must perform all work.  Permits for electrical and plumbing work etc. should be obtained to ensure code compliance inspections even if a renovation permit for the complete project is not obtained.

Inspections and Inspectors-Enforcement of the Law

Depending on the circumstances involved the B.C.A gives the building inspector various powers to enforce the building code and other applicable law.


  • 12-(1) Inspection under a permit or permit application.
  • 1.   12-(2) Order to comply if a contravention is found.
  • 13-(6) Order to uncover if non-compliance is suspected.
  • 14-(1) Stop work order if previous orders not complied with.
  • 15-(1&2) Inspection of unsafe buildings.

These are just some of the powers municipalities; inspectors and the courts can use to enforce the Building Code Act and the Building Code.

When Do I Get A Building Permit?

  • New home construction. Part 9, OBC
  • An addition of more than 10 sq. m.  Part  Extension, Material Alteration or Repair
  • Change of Use (As defined by Part 10 of the OBC) required even if no construction occurs.
  • Renovations as defined by Part Basic Renovation, no structural alterations.
  • Extensive Renovation as defined by Part, significant structural changes.

Why Bother To Get A Permit?

Due diligence and the law require it.  A future sale or use may be blocked or adversely affected by it.

Additions or other structures not shown on surveys may complicate a transaction.

Avoids serious safety and liability issues should injury or damage result from failure to comply with applicable codes.

Insurance coverage may be void if codes are not met.

Failure to obtain a building permit deprives an owner of the protection afforded by plans examination conducted within a permit application and periodic inspections during construction.

Article by Brian Edwards M.A.A.T.O, B.C.Q, President of Westbrook Building Inspections Ltd. hope this helps and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

Century Office Building Conversion

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