Navigating the process of applying for a building permit in Oakville can be challenging. Whether you’re planning a major renovation or a new construction, understanding the local regulations is crucial. This guide provides you with all the necessary information to ensure your project complies with the Ontario Building Code and Oakville’s zoning laws. To go directly to the Oakville Permits Website, go here:
Understanding Building Permits
Most construction, renovation, or demolition projects in Oakville require a building permit. This is crucial to ensure that your project adheres to local and provincial standards. It’s important to note that starting construction without a permit is illegal.
Do I Need a Building Permit?
This comprehensive list outlines the various renovations and construction projects for which the City of Oakville typically expects building permit applications. It’s important for residents and contractors to refer to this list to ensure compliance with local regulations when planning any renovation, construction, or demolition projects.
Projects Requiring a Permit
Projects that typically require a permit include:
- Larger accessory structures such as sheds, cabanas, or gazebos over 15 square meters, or any size if plumbing is involved.
- Buildings or structures over 10 square meters or any size with plumbing.
- Extensions or additions to existing buildings.
- Installation of backflow preventers or backwater valves.
- Construction or modification of balconies on houses, apartments, or condos.
- Basement projects, including creating living spaces, second units, or increasing headroom.
- Construction of below-grade entrances or walkouts.
- Changes to building use or purpose.
- Decks over 0.61 meters high and attached to buildings.
- Door modifications or additions.
- Adding dormers.
- Installation of dust collectors.
- Fire alarm system installations or repairs.
- Repairing fire damage.
- Installing or modifying fire suppression systems.
- Altering furnace ducts.
- Building or modifying garages.
- Installing heating gas fireplaces.
- Geothermal system installations.
- Interior remodelling.
- Kitchen exhaust installations.
- Plumbing fixture installations, removals, or relocations.
- Plumbing drainage work.
- Pool installations requiring a development engineering permit.
- Constructing covered porches.
- Recladding buildings with new materials.
- Roof extensions or slope modifications.
- Creating secondary units like basement apartments.
- Sewer system installations or repairs.
- Shoring and excavation projects.
- Site servicing.
- Installing skylights.
- Solar panel installations.
- Installing sprinkler systems.
- Sump pump installations in specific areas.
- Underpinning foundation walls.
- Weeping tile repairs or changes in specific areas.
- Window installations or enlargements.
- Building wood-burning fireplaces.
Projects Not Requiring a Permit
Some projects do not require a permit, such as:
- Small accessory structures such as sheds, cabanas, or gazebos under 15 square meters without plumbing.
- Installation or replacement of cabinetry and cupboards.
- Constructing a concrete pad.
- Basement damp-proofing.
- Decks under 0.61 meters (two feet) in height, not connected to a building.
- Adding decorative elements.
- Door replacements that match the existing size.
- Widening or resurfacing driveways.
- Installing eavestroughs that drain within the property.
- Erecting fences.
- Installing decorative gas fireplaces.
- Conducting landscaping activities.
- Carrying out minor masonry work.
- Painting buildings or structures.
- Creating or expanding parking lots without new catch basins, or repainting lines.
- Replacing plumbing fixtures in their current locations, such as sinks, tubs, toilets, or showers.
- Recladding buildings with the same material type.
- Re-shingling roofs.
- Constructing retaining walls less than one meter in height.
- Replacing windows with ones of the same size.
Costs and Fees
The cost of obtaining a building permit varies depending on the project’s size, type, and use. There’s a minimum fee and a pre-screening fee to consider, along with potential development charges.
Application Process Timeline
Building permit applications are subject to specific timelines. To avoid delays, it’s recommended to apply well in advance of your planned construction date. The city is obligated by the Ontario Building Code to provide feedback within ten business days on typical home renovation building permit applications. However, the reality is a bit more complicated. In the interview below on “A Little Market Insight“, a structural engineer goes over the typical timelines for building permit approvals.
- Once you submit your building permit application, the city will have 2-5 days to conduct their prescreening.
- Then, the city of Oakville will email you to pay a nominal permit fee of approximately $60 to start the review process.
- Once the fee is paid, it will go into the review queue.
- The zoning review and plan examination will take 10-20 days, and the city will provide their feedback. If they have any comments, they will need to be addressed and resubmitted. This is common and should be expected.
- The re-review period is 5-10 days.
- Finally, if everything is good, the city will send you a final invoice ($200-$700 depending on project size).
- Once the final permit fee is paid, the city will email you a copy of your stamped permit package.
Before applying, ensure your project requires a permit and complies with zoning regulations. You’ll need to gather the necessary forms, drawings, and documents, and it’s advised to work with a professional for accurate and complete submissions.
Preparing and Submitting the Application
Applications should be prepared according to submission standards, including document formats and naming conventions. The application can be submitted online through the Town of Oakville’s website. The link can be found here:
Once your application is accepted, several payment options are available, including credit card, email transfer, and electronic funds transfer.
After submission, your application will undergo a series of reviews. Any deficiencies must be addressed for the permit to be issued. This is a fairly common occurrence, and any competent designer should have little issue addressing the city’s comments.
Penalties for working without a Building Permit
Understanding Penalties for Lack of Building Permits in Ontario
Penalties for Homeowners Doing Renovation Work Without Permits
When undertaking a project without the necessary building permits, such as a renovation permit, deck permit, or construction permit, homeowners in Ontario can face several repercussions:
- Additional Fees for Unpermitted Work: Homeowners may incur a penalty fee, which is an additional charge equal to 50% of the expected permit fees or a specified minimum amount, whichever is higher.
- Project Delays: The project must be halted while the permit application is processed, leading to potential delays.
- Reversing or Extending Work: There might be a need to reverse the work already done or extend the scope of work beyond the original plan.
- Future Legal and Financial Complications: Engaging in unpermitted work can lead to legal and financial difficulties, especially when selling the property or dealing with insurance claims.
- Homeowner’s Liability: It’s critical for homeowners to understand that they are responsible for these penalties, regardless of whether a contractor informed them that permits were not required.
Penalties for Contractors Operating Without Permits
Contractors in Ontario, including those applying for renovation, deck, or construction permits, face stricter penalties for Building Code violations:
- Significant Fines for Individuals: Individual contractors can be fined up to $50,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for subsequent offences.
- Larger Fines for Companies: Companies may receive a fine of up to $500,000 for the first offence and as much as $1,500,000 for continuous violations.
- Penalties for Non-Compliance with Orders: Failure to comply with orders from municipal councils or building departments is considered a serious offence, attracting further penalties.
Comparing Penalties: Homeowners vs. Contractors
In practice, municipalities are willing to work with homeowners. If you have started a project and later found out that a building permit is required, the most important thing is to be apologetic and willing to work with the municipality. If you refuse to cooperate or start an argument, the building inspector is likely to make the process much more difficult than it needs to be. Conversely, if you admit your error and cooperate, the municipality will help you through the process.
This is very different for contractors who work without building permits. The municipality expects contractors to know they have building permits, so they are much less lenient with them. The most important thing is the safety of homeowners. Getting a qualified designer to help will go a long way to ensuring a smooth and successful renovation.
Understanding and adhering to the building permit process in Oakville is essential for any construction or renovation project. With this guide, we hope to have simplified this complex process for you.
For more information or assistance with your building permit application, contact Kingswood Engineers. Our team is here to help you every step of the way.