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What are they?

A building permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means that the City of Toronto has approved plans for any new structure, addition or renovation. Approved plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local zoning by-laws, and other applicable laws and regulations. It is unlawful to start construction or demolition before you get a permit. Building permits regulate types of construction allowed in the community and ensure that building standards are met. The building permit process protects each homeowner's interests, as well as those of the community at large, and provides for the erection of safe structures. Permits help ensure that any structural change is safe, legal and sound.

You need a building permit if you plan to:

  • construct a new building
  • renovate, repair or add to a building
  • demolish or remove all or a portion of a building
  • change a building's use
  • install, change or remove partitions and load-bearing walls
  • make new openings for, or change the size of, doors and windows
  • build a garage, balcony or deck
  • excavate a basement or construct a foundation
  • install or modify heating, plumbing, air conditioning systems or fireplaces
  • reconstruct a chimney.

You do not need a building permit to:

  • replace existing, same-size doors and windows, subject to distance from property lines
  • install siding on small residential buildings, subject to distance from property lines
  • build a roofless deck under two feet (0.61 metres) that is not attached to a building
  • build a utility shed under 100 ft2 (9.29 m2)
  • reshingle a roof, provided there is no structural work
  • install eavestroughs, provided that drainage is contained on your property
  • replace or increase insulation, dry-wall or plaster
  • damp-proof basements
  • paint or decorate
  • install kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing
  • erect a fence (except for swimming pools ¬ outside pools require permits)
  • electrical work (the Electrical Safety Authority, however, must inspect electrical installations)