Building Permit Application Requirements
A Building Permit legally authorizes you to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.
Building Permits are reviewed for compliance with:
- Ontario Building Code
- Hamilton's Zoning By-law
- Niagara Escarpment Commission and Conservation Authorities Regulations
- Other applicable provincial and municipal regulations
The purpose of a Building Permit is to ensure that zoning requirements, fire and structural safety standards and other building standards are met.
Before you Apply for a Building Permit
Projects that Require a Building Permit
- guard/railing replacement or new installation
- fences for swimming pools (enclosures)
- tent(s) greater than 60 square metres
- any-sized deck (covered or uncovered) where it is attached to a building
- detached uncovered deck greater than 10 square metres and more than 200 mm above adjacent grade
- detached covered deck greater than 10 square metres
- detached deck (covered or uncovered) less than or equal to 10 square metres where it is adjacent to or associated with a door to the building and more than 600 mm above grade
- detached structure less than or equal to 10 square metres containing plumbing
- detached structure greater than 10 square metres (except where accessory to a detached house, semi-detached house or row house)
- detached accessory structure (shed, garage, gazebo, carport) greater than 15 square metres where accessory to a detached house, semi-detached house or row house
- additions (includes enclosing existing porch)
- waterproofing/damp proofing foundation walls
- replacing weeping tile
- repairs to structural members (i.e. subfloor, roof sheathing, beams, lintels, etc.)
- raising or lowering (underpinning) a house to provide a full basement
- replacing roofing or exterior cladding with a different material
- solar panels
- ramps or elevating devices
- replacing structures in same size same location
- interior alterations including finishing or partially finishing a basement or other spaces
- finishing existing non-finished space
- walkout basement
- replacement of interior railings/guards
- adding an accessory apartment (conversion)
- relocating rooms/creation of new rooms
- material alterations including installing or replacing drywall and insulation
- creating new door or window openings or increasing the size of openings
- relocating door or window openings
- adding or removing walls (non-load bearing and load bearing), beams and lintels
- backwater valve
- waterproofing/damp proofing foundation walls
- internal weeping tile system
- sump pump
- fire damage repair
- changing the use of a building (e.g. lodging house, bed and breakfast or changing any part of a building from one use to another)
- establishing a home occupation (please contact us for more information)
- new plumbing or relocating plumbing
- new septic systems, repair or replacement
- installation of water meter, water, sanitary and storm services to the property line (Single Family Dwellings only)
- wood stoves or fireplaces
- new or replacement of ductwork in an HVAC system
- installation of internal plumbing
- demolitions for structures 10 square metres or greater
- partial demolitions of buildings
- partial demolition of an attached structure
For new construction and additions to low-rise residential buildings, review radon mitigation and testing requirements.
If you are starting demolition or construction in an established neighbourhood, please review the Residential Infill Good Neighbour Guide to learn more about requirements and related approvals you should be aware of.
Projects that Don't Require a Building Permit
- Where accessory to a detached house, semi-detached house or row house, a Building Permit is not required for the construction or demolition of a detached accessory structure (garage, carport, gazebo) provided it is not more than 15 square metres, is not more than one storey and does not have plumbing. For all other uses, a Building Permit is not required for the construction or demolition of a detached structure provided it is not more than 10 square metres and does not have plumbing.
- Building a fence that does not enclose a pool (Refer to the City's Fence By-Law for details)
- Installing minor millwork, cabinetry, and flooring such as carpet, laminate or hardwood
- Repairing eavestroughs where drainage is contained within the property
- Landscaping (a Site Alteration Permit may be required for changes in grading)
- Painting or decorating
- Re-shingling a roof with the same roofing material
- Replacing existing plumbing ﬁxtures in the same location
- Replacing existing windows to the same size and location where no fire resistance rating is required
- Replacing a furnace
- Demolition of a farm building
- Demolition of a detached structure 10 square metres or less
There are many consequences that may include but are not limited to:
- Receive order to comply to obtain a building/demolition permit that may be registered on title
- Be issued a ticket with a set fine. Penalties under Section 36 of the Building Code Act indicate maximum fines of $50,000 for an individual, or $500,000 for a corporation for a first offence
- Ordered to stop work
- Legal action may occur due to construction/demolition without building permit, or when failing to comply with an order
- Additional costs to remedy the unpermitted construction (i.e hire Professional Engineer, deconstruction etc.)
- Possible interference with applicable law (i.e Niagara Escarpment Commission, Conservation Authorities, Zoning by-law etc.)
- Additional fees under Hamilton’s Building Permit By-Law
- Additional complications with respect to unpermitted locations, encroachments
New construction or renovations must comply with Hamilton's Zoning By-laws for details like size, setback and location. A Building Permit will only be issued if the project complies with the Zoning By-Law for the property.
View the interactive zoning mapping to determine the zoning designation of a property. Contact the Planning Division at 905-546-2424 ext 2719 or email zoningInquiry@hamilton.ca when you are planning your project to determine the specific zoning requirements for a property. You may need additional approvals or time to obtain all of the necessary information.
If your project does not comply with the Zoning By-Law, you may apply for a minor variance.
Before work begins on a construction project, the building constructor in Health and Safety legislation may need to file a Notice of Project (NOP) to the Ministry of Labour.
The Government of Ontario has some tools and information to keep you informed. You may be asked to complete the Notice of Project as the property owner. View a list of what you should know first.
If you have natural feature on or near your property, you may be required to get a permit from the Conservation Authority that oversees that watershed:
- Hamilton Conservation Authority: 905-525-2181
- Conservation Halton: 905-336-1158
- Grand River Conservation Authority: 519-621-2761
- Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority: 905-788-3135
To determine what natural features are on or near your property, contact a Natural Heritage Planner at 905-546-2424 Ext. 1355 or visit City Hall, 5th Floor.
In some areas of the City, lands are under the control of the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC). You will be required to receive approval through a Development Permit from the Commission to develop your property.
- Niagara Escarpment Commission: 905-877-5191
You may need to contact other organizations before you begin your project to access additional information or approvals.
Call Before You Dig
Before you dig call Ontario One Call to locate any underground services.
Electrical Safety Authority
Call for electrical permits and inspections
Ministry of Transportation
416-235-4081 or 416-235-4387
See if your property is in the MTO Controlled area
Committee of Adjustment
Call for minor variances from the Zoning By-law’s
Encroachments and Alley information
905-546-2424 ext. 4298
Call if your project encroaches onto City property
Call for disconnects, clearance for wires
Canadian Pacific Rail
Call to do work under, over or beside tracks
Historical Designations and information
Email CulturalHeritagePlanning@hamilton.ca if your property has a historical designation. Properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, must have a Heritage Permit before being issued a Building Permit.
Drinking Water Source Water Protection
905-546-2424 ext. 6099
Call if your property has proposed development and is in the area of a public wellhead (i.e. Lynden, Greensville, Carlisle, Freelton)
Delays in permit issuance can be avoided if all drawings and specifications incorporate sufficient information to verify that the work will conform to the Ontario Building Code and the Zoning By-law. If you are not familiar with government regulations, by-laws and Ontario Building Code requirements, you may want to hire a designer. If your drawing and specifications are not complete or do not meet the Ontario Building Code or Hamilton’s Zoning By-law, approval for your permit will be delayed. Learn more about finding a qualified designer
As the owner, you may design your project and drawings. Discuss your project with material suppliers to determine costs, sizes and spans. You can also contact the Building Division by email firstname.lastname@example.org or in person to see examples of drawings showing the acceptable level of quality for your permit application.
Review these checklists to help ensure you submit a complete application:
All drawings must be to scale and printed in ink. Original drawings in pencil are not acceptable, but photocopies of penciled drawings may be sufficient. Plans must be fully dimensioned in either metric or imperial units, but not a combination of both.
Tips to Consider When Selecting a Contractor
- Ensure the contractor has a valid trade licence
- Do not get pressured into signing anything
- Always get a written estimate and at least three quotes
- Get a fully itemized estimate and make sure the details are written into a contract
- Get other quotes if you are asked to give a down payment of more than 5% to 15% of the total contract price
- Determine if the job requires a Building Permit. It is your responsibility to get a Building Permit, if you need one, before you start construction
All contractors must have a valid Trade and Contractor Licence to operate in Hamilton.
Looking for a specific contractor? View our list of Licensed Contractors. Use the filter tools to enter a name to search the listing online. For more information, contact Municipal Law Enforcement at 905-546-2782 option 3 for Licensing.
Trades that require a licence include:
- Building repair contractors such as roofers, carpenters, bricklayers, concrete workers, window and door installers, siding contractors and foundation waterproofing contractors
- Drain contractors
- Plumbing contractors
- Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning contractors
- Fire sprinkler installer contractors
In order to get a valid licence, contractors go through a process to ensure they have:
- Police criminal check
- Third party liability insurance
When you apply for a Building Permit, you must provide the licence number of the contractor who is doing the work.
The City usually only investigates contractors if a complaint is made. If we receive a complaint of anyone operating without a valid licence, we ensure compliance with Hamilton’s Licensing By-Law No. 07-170.
Inspectors can carry out random spot checks to see if a contractor is operating with a proper licence.
Apply for a Building Permit
A property owner or an agent on behalf of the owner, such as a contractor or designer, can apply for a building permit for residential projects. If your designer or contractor applies on your behalf, ask them to include your contact information on the application. The applicant will be the primary contact for the Building division. Make sure to follow up with the applicant to receive updates.
View user guides, additional application forms, FAQs, etc.
Apply In Person
Ensure to include property address, owner/applicant and designer information, including designer schedule. Submit application, fees and drawings in person to:
City Hall, 3rd Floor
71 Main Street West