Building Permit

A building permit is required for any new building greater than 10m (108 ft.), any addition to an existing building, any material alterations to an existing building that affects the structural design of the building, mechanical, electrical, plumbing services (no limit on the size of building), fire separations, exiting, fire protection systems and the use of buildings or parts thereof.

Requirements for a Building Permit

Please refer to the Building Permit Checklist for more details on what you will need to complete the application.

Submit your signed and completed application, along with your drawings, to
Please note, the largest we are able to print is 11" x 17" paper size. Larger drawings will need to be dropped off at Chatham Civic Centre or mailed.

For questions or more information regarding Building Permits, please call 519-352-8401 x 3215, Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 am.

Do I need a Building Permit?

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)
  • additions
  • porches
  • basement or main floor walkout alterations
  • sunrooms
  • replacement of brick veneer
  • garages/carports
  • attached or detached garages, sheds
  • replacement of masonry chimney below the roofline
  • dormers or finishing of attic space
  • installation, repair of storm, sanitary and water service
  • finishing a basement or a portion thereof
  • installation of cleanouts
  • conversion from septic to a 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 and repairs to sewage systems (septic systems and holding tanks)
  • structural fire damage

For all other buildings, (agricultural, commercial, industrial and institutional), projects requiring a building permit include:

  • barns, pre-fabricated steel buildings, grain elevators etc.,
  • additions to any building having a combined area of 10m (108 sq. ft.) or more
  • installation and repairs to sewage systems (septic systems and holding tanks) change of use (where construction is proposed or the change constitutes an increase in hazard)
  • plumbing installation and alterations, except replacement of fixtures
  • interior renovations within a floor area affecting fire separations, exits or structural capacity
  • interior finishing of shell buildings for tenants (i.e. 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
  • tents greater than 60m (645 sq. ft.)
  • installations and major alterations of sprinkler, standpipe, fire alarm or mechanical (HVAC) systems
  • installation or replacement of storm and sanitary sewers, water service (i.e. catch basins, weeping tile, clean-outs, change from a septic system to sewers)

Projects that don't require building permits:

A building permit is not required for a detached accessory structure (gazebo, tool shed, etc.) that measures less than 10m (108 square feet) 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 principal 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
  • replace existing forced-air furnace (no ductwork alterations
  • replacing siding or windows (provided there are no structural changes)
  • painting and decorating

The Building Permit Process, Step-by-Step

Step 1: Visit or contact the Building Department

The Building Department is responsible for the issuance of building permits for your property and is usually located within your local municipal office or Civic Centre. It is useful to speak directly with a Building Official and discuss your project to determine if the plans comply with the Ontario Building Code and the applicable by-laws. This initial contact can provide you with the resources and information necessary to make your project a success and avoid potential problems which could cost you time and money.

Step 2: Submit your Application

Permit applications can be accessed both through our office as well as on our site. Once you have filled out your application you must ensure that the correct documentation and drawings accompany your submission.  Your application can be submitted personally or by another person such as your contractor or qualified designer.  It is important to keep in mind that the inspectors have up to 10 business days for a house, tent and sign permit, 15 business days for small buildings, 20 business days for large buildings and 30 business days for complex buildings to issue the permit, although depending on the levels of applications we are receiving in our office the time frame may vary. Under certain conditions, your permit can be fast-tracked for an additional 25% of the permit fee.

Step 3: Reviewing the Application

The Building Official (Inspector) will review the building plans and application to determine compliance with the Ontario Building Code, the municipality's by-laws, provincial regulations and other applicable agencies. If the application complies, the permit can be approved and issued by the Building Official. If the plans and application do not comply, Building Staff will notify the applicant indicating what deficiencies remain and what information or documentation will need to gain the necessary compliance. Please ensure that the necessary information is submitted so that there are no delays in the issuing of your permit.

*The building inspector may contact you throughout the process if additional information is needed*

Step 4: Obtaining the Building Permit

Once all the necessary approvals and documentation have been received and reviewed the building inspector will contact you for pick up. The permit fees will be calculated in accordance with the project as per the Fee Schedule and will be available to be picked up and processed through the Civic Centre or your local Municipal office. You may also be required to submit a damage deposit that could cover potential damage to municipal property and ensure that required inspections are completed as it is refunded after the completion of the project. A building permit is a document granting legal permission to start construction and you must proceed accordingly to the approved Building Permits and plans. One set of the permit will remain on file, and the other set will be returned (to be kept on-site during the construction process). Any proposed changes throughout the construction process must be brought to the attention of the building inspector immediately.

Step 5: Inspections & Completion

No work can start until the issuance of the building permit and the development must be completed in phases. During each major phase of construction, the Building Official (Inspector) must inspect the project to ensure that the work conforms to the approved plans.  A list of all the mandatory inspections and the Building inspector's phone number will be provided at this time on the permit. The person responsible for the construction project must request each inspection with 48-hours notice. If the Building Official finds that some of the work does not conform to the approved plans, he or she will advise that the situation be remedied. Once all the mandatory inspections have been completed and the Building Inspector has completed their final inspection the project is complete!