Couple doing home improvements

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is a proud, proactive, progressive team committed to innovation and leadership through the provision of services enhancing the quality of life in our community.

Process, Requirements, & History

That philosophy extends to the private and publicly owned buildings of our community. By enforcing building codes, and assisting homeowners, builders and designers, we ensure that the structures they create are safe.

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions concerning building permits.

What is a building?

The Building Code Act of Ontario defines a building as: (a) a structure occupying an area greater than 10 square metres (108 sq. ft.) consisting of a wall, roof and floor, or any of them or a structural system serving the function thereof including all plumbing, works, fixtures and service systems appurtenant thereto, (b) a structure occupying an area of 10 square metres (108 sq. ft.) or less that contains plumbing, including the plumbing appurtenant thereto, (c) plumbing not located in a structure, (c.1) a sewage system or (d) structures designated in the building code.

The Building Code Act states that: no person shall construct or demolish or cause a building to be constructed or demolished in a municipality unless a permit has been issued therefore by the Chief Building Official.

The Building Code Act also defines construct to mean the doing of anything in the erection, installation, extension, material alteration or repair of a building which also includes installation of a building unit fabricated or moved from elsewhere.

What construction projects need building permits?

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 which effects: the structural design of the building; mechanical; electrical; plumbing services (no limit on size of building); fire separations; exiting; fire protection systems; and the use of buildings or parts thereof.

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 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 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 septic system to sewers)

What projects do NOT require a building permit?

A building permit is not required for a detached accessory structure (gazebo, tool shed, etc.) which 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 principle 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 duct work alterations

  • replacing siding or windows (provided there are no structural changes)

  • painting and decorating

Who should apply?

It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that a building permit is obtained when required. You may authorize your contractor or designer to apply for the permit, but the owner should ensure that they have the permit prior to any work starting.

How do I apply?

Visit the Building Services Department located at the Civic Center, 315 King Street West in Chatham. If you live outside the City of Chatham, applications are also available at any of our Service Centres and Libraries or you can call 519.519.360.1998. An application for a building permit along with other related information is provided to you at this time.

The permit application requires information about the construction project. Who will perform the work, what work will be done, where the work will be done, and how the work will be done.

Drawings are reviewed to ensure compliance with fire and life safety requirements of the Ontario Building Code. The plans must have the designer's B.C.I.N. registration number, except where a home owner is preparing their own drawings or for residential accessory structures under 55sq. meters (592.02 Sq. ft).

Your application form should be brought to the Building Department accompanied by the following:

  • two sets of building plans suitable for examination (floor plans, elevations and cross-sections, roof trusses, etc)

  • two copies of your property survey or site plan

  • a building permit fee payable to the Municipality of Chatham-Kent by cash, Interact , Credit Card, or cheque, payable

  • Contact the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (519.354.7310) or the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (519.245.3710)

Note: Incomplete applications or plans will result in a delay for the issuance of the permit

What is the cost of a building permit?

Building permit fees will depend on the cost of the total construction project, new homes are calculated by square foot of finished floor area. The minimum permit fee is $76.68. Please contact the Municipality of Chatham-Kent Building Department at 519.360.1998 for the updated fee schedule from the Building By-law.

You may also be required to submit a security deposit to cover potential damage to municipal property and to ensure that required inspections are completed.

What happens once I submit the application?
Permit applications will be processed as quickly as possible depending on the nature of the work requested. Our Building Officials will determine if your project is in compliance with the Ontario Building Code, Zoning Bylaw, other municipal by-laws and provincial regulations.

Zoning requirements specify the uses permitted within a particular area and contain regulations governing such things as building setbacks, height and lot coverage. You should contact the Building Department 519.360.1998 to determine the specific requirements for your building addition or alteration.

When can work start?

No work can start until the issuance of the building permit. For example, two weeks is the normal processing time for new single detached dwellings. For other types of buildings, the process time will depend on the nature of the work as well as the information submitted.

You must proceed with construction as approved by the review process, keep a copy of the building permit and plans at the site, and bring any proposed changes to the attention of the Building Official immediately. Changes may require a review and approval in the same manner as the original application.

What inspections are required?

Each major phase of construction must be inspected by our Building Officials to make certain the work conforms to the Building Code, the building permit and the approved plans. The mandatory inspections required are indicated on the building permit.

How do I get my project inspected?

Inspections do not happen automatically. It is your responsibility to ensure that either you or your contractor contacts the municipality to request an inspection, allow 48hrs notice for an inspection as specified by the building code before work proceeds from one inspection stage to the next.

Failure to have inspections performed may result in having to uncover and expose work for inspection or the commencement of legal action. Allow 48hrs notice for an inspection as specified by the building code.

You can contact one of our Customer Service Representatives at 519.360.1998 to arrange for your inspections.

Consider the following when looking for a contractor:

  • Check for contractors experience in the type of construction proposed.

  • Interview the contractor and check on previous jobs the contractor has completed and other clients satisfaction.

  • Check the reliability of your chosen contractor with the Better Business Bureau.

  • Arrange a contract and ensure the contract covers all the work including who prepares drawings and who arranges for inspections.

  • Before signing the contract, check the drawings to ensure they comply with what you want. Also check specifications and materials proposed.

  • Confirm the type of warranty that is being given, and, on a large contract, you may wish to obtain legal counsel before signing.

  • Confirm whether the contractor is obtaining the building permit or if you are expected to handle the building permit. When the contractor is applying for the permit, make sure you see the permit before allowing work to start.