The decks and buildings by-laws and standards of each municipality ensure quality levels in the design and construction of all buildings and structures in cities across Ontario. If you plan to do major repairs and renovations to your home including building or renovating decks and gardens, you must contact your municipality’s Building Department to inquire if you need a permit before you begin.

Most construction work will require a building permit. This includes all detached or attached elements like decks and garden renovations. Before you can get a building permit, the Building Department will ask you for various specific information including drawings. This ensures that every construction project meets the requirements of the Ontario Building Code and all applicable laws, including any relevant zoning bylaws where you live.

A municipality’s Zoning By-law sets out what is and what is not permitted when it comes to renovations in decks and gardens. Normally, regulations for decks vary depending on the zone, the yard the deck is located in and the design of the deck including the height of any roof. Creating sidewalks, planters and other general landscaping in your yard may not require a building permit, but you are expected to take into consideration the way surface water drainage occurs on your and surrounding property.

In summary, here is a quick ten point checklist for Building Permits in Ontario.

  1. You may require a Building Permit if your renovation activity includes installation, erection, extension or material alteration or repair to decks and gardens.
  2. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that a Building Permit is obtained.
  3. You may authorize your contractor or designer to apply for the permit, but as the owner, you should ensure that they have the permit prior to starting any work.
  4. Many owners prefer to submit the application themselves to ensure the permit application is received. In addition, this provides the owner with the opportunity to have questions answered by the Building Department staff.
  5. Both the owner and the builder/contractor are responsible for the process and are equally liable under the Ontario Building Code Act.
  6. Building permits are necessary to ensure that the minimum building standards for safety, structural sufficiency, accessibility, energy and water conservation, and other standards set out in the Zoning By-law are met.
  7. The Building Permit fee covers the cost of reviewing the construction plans for compliance with the Ontario Building Code and other applicable laws, such as the Zoning By-Laws and the Heritage Act.
  8. The fees involved include the cost of the issuance of the permit, review of plans and the required inspections of the construction at specific stages of completed construction and are usually dependent on the cost of the renovation.
  9. Building Permit fees must be paid at the time the application is submitted.
  10. Once you have been issued the Permit, it is recommended to post your Building Permit for the duration of construction, in a visible location on-site in order to permit the public and the Building Inspector to see it.
  • If you are planning to renovate your deck or garden and are not sure whether your project will require a permit, you can contact the qualified legal team at Mackesy Smye. Our lawyers have the experience in real estate law to help you with your queries, direct you to the right sources and defend your rights in court should this become necessary.