Building Services FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Building Services

Q: Where do I apply for a building permit?
A: All building permits can be applied for at Building Services located in the Town Offices, Monday to Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm.

Q: What is the purpose of Development Charges?
A: The purpose of Development Charges is to recover the growth-related costs associated with the capital infrastructure needed to service new development. Services include water, sewer, roads, fire facilities, library facilities and materials, parkland and recreation.

Q: What if I don't know the address of a new property?
A: New properties will be given a municipal address when, and only when a building permit has been issued for that property?

Q: Does the building department issue sign permits?
A: The building department issues sign permits if it is a large engineered sign. Any other sign inquiries should be directed to By-law Enforcement at 905 468-3266.

Q: What can result from not obtaining a building permit?
A: It is unlawful to start construction without the necessary permits. If you start construction without the necessary permits, you may be ordered to stop work, ordered to remove work already completed, building fees will be increased, or legal action may be initiated by the Building Department. Contact Building Services if you are not sure whether you need a permit for your project.

Q: What is plans examination and what is the process?
A: Once the application is complete and all necessary documents, approvals and form have been submitted the application is then processed. Zoning is checked to ensure compliance with all application by-laws. A plans examiner will evaluate the drawings to ensure they meet all the requirements and regulations of the Ontario Building Code as well as all other applicable regulations. The applications is then reviewed by a Building Inspector who confirms compliance with all regulations. The Chief Building Official reviews, signs and issues the permit

Q: When is it required to request a building inspection?
A: Inspections are required during the construction of your project to ensure that all work is done in compliance with the approved plans. Inspection stages are outlined when a permit is issued. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure that they or their contractor contacts the Town to request an inspection before the next stage of construction is required.

Q: How do I arrange for a building inspection?
A: Please call 905 468-3266, ext. 222 to request a building inspection appointment. If it is necessary to leave a message please be clear as to the location - including municipal address, the owner of the property, the day in which the inspection is required and the type of inspection. Our inspectors will do their best to honour your request, however, they do not given specific times unless you've spoken to then directly. Please note that a minimum of 48 hours notice is required to book an inspection.

Q: What does a building inspector do?
A: A building inspector reviews projects during key stages of construction to ensure work complies with the Building Code and the plans originally submitted for review. The inspector may visit a site several times depending on the project.

Q: How can I obtain the locates on my property?
A: Remember to contact all utilities before you dig.

Q: What is a building permit?
A: A building permit is a document that grants legal permission to start construction of a "building" as defined by the Building Code Act of Ontario. A Building Permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means that the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has reviewed your plans for a new structure, addition or renovation. These plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local zoning by-laws, and other applicable laws and regulations.

Q: Why is a building permit required?
A: Building permits regulate the type of construction allowed in the community and help to ensure building standards, codes and that all applicable by-laws are enforced. The building permit process protections each homeowner's interested, as well as those of the community and helps to make certain that the health, safety and welfare of the building occupants is upheld.

Q: How long is a permit good for?
A: Although the permit is good for one year from the date it was issued, you have six months to commence work. The permit continues as long as the work is "on-going". Work that has not progressed six months from the date the permit was issued is considered not "on-going" as is eligible to be revoked by the Chief Building Official.

Q: Do you have information on Pools and Decks?
A: Link to fence by-law.

Q: What are the fees for a permit?
A: Link to fee schedule

Q: Are there other fees?
A: There may be other applicable fees on top of the building permit cost. These may include: Regional and/or Municipal Development Charges Heavy Loading Charges Water Meter Fee (for new water meters) Lot Grading Deposit (for lots smaller than 1 acre) Damage Deposit Other fees outlined in Subdivision Agreements

Q: When is a building permit not required?
A: You do not need a building permit to: Replace existing, same size doors and windows; Install siding on small residential buildings, subject to distance from property lines; Build a utility shed under 108 square fee (10 square metres) subject to distance from property lines; Re-shingle a roof, provided there is not structure work; Install eavestroughs, provided the drainage is contained on your property Damp proof basements; Paint or decorate; Re-install/replace kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing; Erect a fence, subject to fence by-law (except for swimming pools and hot tubs which require a permit); Re-tiling, carpeting, floors

Q: How detailed should drawings be?
A: The following apply's to permit drawings:

  • Drawings must be legible and drawn to scale
  • Drawings must be completed by either the property owner or a qualified designer
  • Electronic drawings in PDF format are strongly recommended and preferred 
  • Incomplete drawings will not be accepted and may delay the issuance of a building permit

Q: Who should apply for the permit?
A: The property owner must apply for the permit. Alternatively, they can provide authorization in writing for a contractor, designer, or authorized agent to apply on behalf of them. 

Q: When is a building permit required?
A: A building permit is required for the following:

  • Any structure that is 108 square feet (10 square metres) or greater 
  • Uncovered decks that are 2 feet or greater above finished grade
  • Inground and above ground pools
  • Interior renovations and repairs including finished basements 
  • Additions to existing buildings
  • Demolition of an existing structure 
  • Convert a buildings use 
  • Replacing sewer or sanitary lines 


Q: What information/drawings are needed for a building permit?
A: Depending on the type of construction, you will generally require the following to submit an application:

  • Drawing Set including floors plans, elevations, sections, and details
  • Site Plan
  • Engineered Drawings 

For a more detailed list specific to the type of construction you are applying for, please see the Building Services home page. 

Q: Is a Heritage Permit necessary?
A: If your property is designated on our heritage registry, you may require a heritage permit prior to the issuance of a building permit. To find out if your property is designated on the heritage registry, please contact our Heritage Specialist at 905-468-3061 ext. 297.

Q: How do I get an Electrical Permit?
A: The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake does not issue electrical permits. For information contact Niagara-on-the-Lake Hydro at 905 468-4235 or visit their office at 8 Henegan Road, Virgil.

Q: Are there other approvals that are needed?
A: Other approvals that may be required prior to the issuance of a building permit include:

  • Heritage Permit through the Municipal Heritage Committee
  • Septic Permit through the Niagara Region Health Department q
  • Development Permit through the Niagara Escarpment Commission
  • NPCA Permit through the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
  • Entrance Permit through the Municipal Public Works Department