The process

There is a process for applying for a building permit.    First off, who can apply?   There are limits on who may apply for a building permit.  The building code requires that the person applying for a building permit must be responsible for the design of the building, structure or system being built.

The process starts by visiting the municipal building department to check on zoning restrictions. For this step a complete set of construction documents must be included.  At this stage, the bylaw examiner looks for compliance with various municipal zoning bylaws, such as the height of a building, how much of the available property is covered by existing buildings, and how much will remain with the proposed construction.  Does anything infringe on setback zones?

If there is any problem with a zoning bylaw you may want to go to the committee of adjustment.

If the proposed work doesn’t contravene zoning bylaws then the application for the permit may be started by attaching all of the drawings for the work to be done and paying the required fee for the permit.  Usually, the people at the front desk of the building department will be very helpful with the process and walk you through the steps.  Don’t feel embarrassed by not knowing what to do, the staff makes the experience friendly and smooth as possible.  The key to a successful application is to have a complete set of drawings with specifications submitted with the application.


The approval, or reasons for denying the application happen within 10 business days for most classes of residential applications.  In Toronto, a small project may be fast-tracked and take only 5 days. For a larger residential project, the process may take up to 10 days. Reasons for denial include some design element that doesn’t conform with some aspect of the Ontario Building Code, or there is incomplete information on drawings, structural changes that would require the design by a professional engineer or a design that is inappropriate for the intended occupancy.  In any case, any shortcoming in the application will cause a delay in the process, and require the submission of additional information.

Who may apply

Not everyone may apply for a building permit.  The person responsible for the design has to be responsible for the compliance with the Ontario Building Code. The regulations consider that a homeowner would be responsible for any work done on that person’s own home and so, providing there are suitable drawings that illustrate project details compliant with Zoning Bylaws and the Ontario Building Code they may apply for a permit.  A person with suitable qualifications (an Architect, an Engineer, or a BCIN Designer) who has reviewed the drawings, or has created the design may represent the owner and apply for the permit on the owner’s behalf.


If the project is not for a building on a residential property, then the person who designs the building, renovation or system must be suitably qualified by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  These qualifications include:
Professional Engineers who are certified for designing structures and are licensed by the PEO.
Architects who are licensed by the Ontario Association of Architects, or
A Public Designer Firm registered with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to provide specific design work.

Public designers with a BCIN (Building Code Identification Number) are limited to buildings not exceeding 600 square metres (about 6,450 square feet,) nor greater than 3 stories in height and depending on qualifications may also design Plumbing Systems and HVAC systems.

Any of these individuals may perform construction design work for a third party and apply for a building permit for the subsequent construction of a building, renovation or installation of a system.

Once you have decided to get a building permit the resources of a building designer may help you get to the building permit by providing complete construction documentation for the application, and assist with the actual application as well.  Call Measurite at 905 409 8487 for a no-obligation consultation.