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

We are often asked if customers need a building permit for their carport, shed, garage, awning or greenhouse etc..  The answer is often that it depends on your area since building codes are very regional in nature.  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.   See Ontario's building code site here and BC's building code here.

Want a quick answer?

Generally, any structure over 10 square metres (108 square feet) generally may require a permit. Often, a structure that attaches to your main house (e.g. awnings) may also need a permit. So a 10x10 greenhouse will not need a permit, but a 12x30 garage may. 

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.

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.

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