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Do I Need A Building Permit for My Carport, Greenhouse, Garage, Shed or Shelter?

We are often asked if customers need a building permit for their carport, shed, garage, awning or greenhouse etc..  It is up to the homeowner to contact their local building office to get approvals. The size of your shelter in square feet allowed varies by your area and land use classification since building codes are very regional in nature. It will also depend on if it's temporary (e.g. no concrete foundation) or permanent. Even within provinces, building codes in or out of the city limits can vary greatly.  Building codes typically are set and enforced by regional districts or municipalities.

Note, we sell our shelter kits across Canada, and don't get involved in permitting or engineers drawings. Every city and province is different with their requirements, but read below for general direction. That said, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area or nearby regions, you may with to visit for help.

Need Help Deciding What Shelter to Buyer?

See 2024 buyers guides below;

Note that none of our shelter kits have engineer stamps (that is up to the homeowner to obtain if requested).  Many of our shelters are locally made in Canada, but we do import some also into Canada from the US.  Every province, city and region has different building requirements, and permitting typically does not require an engineer's stamp.  Building inspectors simply often only need a line drawing (as provided in our listings) to confirm dimensions and setbacks within your property. 

TIP: See Ontario's building code site here and BC's building code here.

Want a quick answer?

Generally, any large structure over 100 to 160 square feet for a non-temporary building will likely require a permit, but this is region specific. Ontario for example, as of 2024 now allows structures up to 160 square feet without requiring a permit (it used to be 108 square feet or 10 square metres). Calgary Alberta requires anything over 100 square feet within the city to have a permit.  So it greatly depends on your region. However, its best to check with your local building official in your city or town to be sure.

Often, a structure that attaches to your main house (e.g. awnings) may also need a permit regardless of size. So a 10x10 foot stand alone greenhouse will generally not need a permit in most areas, but a 12x30 foot garage may. If you are looking at a large 20 wide by 50 foot long high tunnel greenhouse on land with an agricultural designation, then likely not.  However if you are pouring a concrete foundation and have more permanent roofing than just steel tubes with a poly covering, then yes it may need a permit. Again, talk to your local city building official to be sure.

Garage Dimensional Drawing

But there are exceptions in every area, so check with your local building official since we can not say either way since there are too many scenarios and regional differences. If you live in the city and your carport or garage is easily visible to neighbours and or from the street, then you are more likely to be notified of any permitting infractions.  If you live on a wooded acreage well outside the city, this is of course far less likely.  It should also be noted that if you call your local building official, often they will then put you on their radar for future inspections... just sayin'! :)

"Sometimes it is better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission."

Building permits are generally documents issued by the regional body responsible for enforcing Building Code in your area. A building permit is typically necessary when you wish to construct, renovate, demolish or change the use of a building.  There are regional exceptions to permitting for shelters which are temporary or larger than 10 meters square also.  Note that we accept no liability in this area of permitting, since it is entirely up to the homeowner! :)

Building Permit Site Plan

NOTE Building Code enforcement, including issuing building permits, is generally carried out by municipal building departments, although in the case of on-site sewage systems, enforcement in some areas is conducted by boards of health and conservation authorities.

Why you need to obtain a building permit

Building permits allow your municipality to protect the interests of both individuals and the community as a whole. By reviewing and approving building permit applications before any work is done, the municipality can ensure that buildings comply with:

  • the Building Code, which sets standards for the design and construction of buildings to meet objectives such as health, safety, fire protection, accessibility and resource conservation
  • the local zoning bylaw and other planning controls on buildings
  • other applicable legislation, including conservation authority approvals and certain requirements under the Environmental Protection Act

When you need a building permit

You may need to obtain a building permit before you:

  • construct any new building over ten square meters in area or place another structure, such as a mobile home, on your property
  • make renovations or repairs or add to a building
  • change the use of a building
  • excavate or construct a foundation
  • construct a seasonal building
  • undertake work regarding the installation, alteration, extension or repair of an on-site sewage system

What do I need to do for a building permit?

For a carport or garage, basically you will need to have at least a site plan on where on your property it is going, and a drawing for size.  See items below;

  • site plan on where the structure will go on your property to scale
  • dimensional drawing of the foundation, width, length and height
  • description of construction materials and fasteners
  • intended use of the shelter (habitable or non-habitable)
  • any plumbing/electrical/septic systems etc

Contact your municipality if you have any questions about when a building permit may be required.

Looking for foundation or installation help? Click here.