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Homeowners Guide to Toronto Building Permits

By John Luke
home renovation tax credits Ontario

Homeowners Guide to Toronto Building Permits

Applying for a building permit in Toronto can be a minefield, with plenty of documentation, forms and fees to get your head around.

While there are guides from the City of Toronto to help you navigate your way, the process can leave your head in a spin. It’s important to ensure if you are looking to build or renovate you follow the law to the letter; otherwise, you might wind up having to tear down your work and start again or be slapped with massive fines.

In this article, we’ve put together a basic guide for every Toronto homeowner, so you have a one-stop shop of information at your fingertips during the design, planning and building permit application process.

applying for a building permit in Toronto

When is a building permit required in Toronto?

While you might get excited by the idea of a renovation or spruce up of your Toronto home, the fact of the matter is, if you are considering a renovation or new home build, you’re going to want to get your building permit sorted out before you lift up a tool. 

Under the City of Toronto Building Code Act, a building permit is required for the “construction and/or demolition of a new building, an addition, or material alteration of any building or structure.”

This means that if you’re looking to undertake any building work on your home or property, you’re going to need to run it past the City first.

Ignoring these laws or building permits will cause issues in the long run, so if you are looking to renovate or build a home in Toronto, it’s best to follow the rules and be sure you’re meeting all the building bylaws, zoning requirements and you’re 100% compliance with the City and it’s regulations.

What sorts of work do you need a building permit in Toronto?

There is a long list of projects you need to get a building permit for when you’re doing home building, updates or a renovation project for your property.

While you might assume that your small deck extension isn’t worthy of a building permit, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and it’s important to check you’re complying with building requirements before you kick off a project.

Here are some of the projects that you require a building permit for when you’re building in Toronto:

  • Constructing a new building
  • Constructing an addition to an existing building
  • Making structural or material alterations
  • Constructing an accessory structure larger than 10 square metres
  • Finishing a basement
  • Making energy and environmental building improvements
  • Constructing a deck more than 60 centimetres (24 inches) above ground
  • Constructing a retaining wall more than one metre (3 feet 3 inches) in height
  • Constructing a tent that covers more than 60 metres squared (646 square feet); and/or is attached to a building; and/or is within 3 metres (9 feet 10 inches) from another structure
  • Demolishing or remove all, or a portion of a building
  • Installing or reconstruct a chimney or fireplace
  • Installing a wood burning stove or fireplace
  • Installing or modify heating and or plumbing systems
  • Installing a backwater valve
  • Installing a backflow prevention device
  • Changing a building’s use (i.e. from residential to office or single dwelling unit house to multi-dwelling unit house)

Source: City of Toronto

Note the list is not exhaustive, so if you’re not sure if you need a permit or not, the best advice is to ask your City of Toronto planner to ensure you get the right info.

If you are undertaking basement finishes that aren’t structural, deck work that is not attached to a building structure, installing a skylight or adding or replacing insulation, you don’t need a building permit.

What’s it going to cost for a building permit for your home?

If you are looking to calculate the fee for a building permit for your new home build or renovation, the formula is outlined below.

Fee calculation formula:

Permit fee = SI x A

Service Index (SI) for classification of proposed work and floor area in m2 of work involved of work required = A.

If you would like to use an online calculator to find out the fees, you’re looking at for your home build or renovation click here.


Building or Renovating your Home?
Get in Touch for a FREE Consultation to Review Required Permits, Project Costs & More!


What do I need to prepare for my building permit?

To apply for a permit, you need the following:

  • A completed application for Permit to Construct or Demolish
  • Building permit fee
  • Two copies of plans including site plan, floor plans roof framing, elevations, cross section and HVAC (if a new build)
  • Other approvals

Once you have all of your paperwork, it’s time to lodge your application to the Toronto city council you are applying to build or renovate in.

Building permits for renovations

What’s involved in the building permit approval process?

Like anything that is worth waiting for, your building permit can time a little time to be approved, and you will be provided with an expected window for the planner to review and process your plans so you can ensure you are on track for your home renovation or build.

Each and every city in Toronto has a variety or different approval process lengths, so be prepared to wait anywhere between two weeks and a month for a one level family home. Keep in mind, if any items or information are found to be an issue you may need to revise plans and re-submit to the City so you might need to prepare for delays.

Once you have been approved and you receive your building permit, you will need to ensure you abide by on-site inspections from the building permit inspection team from your City – these are set out in writing to ensure that you are working to meet approved stages in the build process.

Your building contractor will need to book in building permit inspections through the city using your permit number. These inspections are mandatory to ensure the project proceeds as approved by the city.

Needing a building permit for your home in Toronto? Sensus Design and Build can help.

As one of Toronto’s leading design and build firms, Sensus offers a complete service for home owners looking to build or renovate their properties. Our team Provide a complete service from planning to architectural design & construction, including applying for building permits, zoning certifications, code compliance review and much more.

If you’re looking to build or renovate your home in Toronto, Sensus Design & Build can provide the design architecture and building services you require to build a quality home.


Building or Renovating your Home?
Get in Touch for a FREE Consultation to Review Required Permits, Project Costs & More!


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