• Don McCuaig

Do you need a building permit?

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

Obtaining a City of Ottawa building permit is not as hard or as costly as most think. In my opinion it is also invaluable if reselling your home is to ever be considered in the near future. It gives buyers peace of mind that the home they are viewing has had the work done properly and legally.



An application form can be found here: City of Ottawa Building Permit Application Form


Projects that require a City of Ottawa Building Permit:


  • The construction of a new building, an addition, or alteration of any building or structure with a building area of over 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet or just larger than 10 foot x 10 foot).

  • A deck that is: adjacent to or attached to the house and its walking surface is more than 600 mm (24 in.) above the adjacent grade elevated and providing principal access to a building independent from the house and has a walking surface greater than 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet) in area, and its walking surface is more than 600 mm (24 in.) above the adjacent grade

  • Interior and exterior structural alterations, such as: adding or removing walls, i.e., creating different room sizes and/or uses

  • one- and two-storey additions

  • new windows where there were none before

  • enlarging or relocating a window or door

  • Finishing a basement

  • Attached or detached garages and sheds

  • Alterations to a plumbing system (except replacing fixtures)

There are many other projects not listed here, as they do not relate to our scope of work, that require building permits in the City of Ottawa.

To put the above information in perspective the average kitchen or bathroom renovation does not require a City of Ottawa building permit.

In a kitchen or bathroom, a City of Ottawa building permit is required only if structural changes are being made or there are going to be alterations the home’s plumbing system (i.e. moving fixtures).

Surprising to most, a basement renovation always requires a City of Ottawa building permit.
An average deck also requires a City of Ottawa building permit as most are larger than 108 square feet, or are higher than 24 inches from the ground.

Cost of a City of Ottawa Building Permit


A City of Ottawa building permit is surprisingly not expensive. It totals a whopping 1.2% of the overall cost of a project. This means that for every $1,000 dollars of renovation cost the permit cost is $12.00 dollars. There is a minimum fee of $80.00 dollars. This permit fee also includes the plumbing inspection portion of a permit. There are added costs to some projects that may include:

  • cost to have professional drawings made to be submitted with the permit application form

  • construction delay costs

Construction delay costs with an organized contractor can be eliminated. Of course, there can be unforeseen delays any time when dealing with the City but typically with good planning and experience the permit process can be seamless in the renovation project and not cause any delays.


Steps to obtain your City of Ottawa Building Permit


  1. Determine whether your project requires a permit

  2. Fill out the application form

  3. If your project requires drawings (i.e. deck permit, addition, structural changes, basement), obtain drawings

  4. Submit your completed application form and two sets of drawings to any of the client service centres located at:

  • 110 Laurier Avenue West (Downtown)

  • 101 Centrepointe Drive (Nepean)

  • 255 Centrum Blvd. (Orleans)

  • 580 Terry Fox Drive (Kanata)

Working with a contractor who is familiar with the permit process in the City of Ottawa is a key step to a successful renovation. Every professional contractor will be knowledgeable in the permit process and will not be scared away if you mention you want a permit.


If you require more information regarding the permit process feel free to give me a call.


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