Building & Renovating

Building Permit Application Requirements

A Building Permit legally authorizes you to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved drawings and specifications.

Building Permits are reviewed for compliance with:

  • Ontario Building Code
  • Hamilton's Zoning By-law
  • regulations of the Niagara Escarpment Commission and Conservation Authorities
  • other applicable provincial and municipal regulations

The purpose of a Building Permit is to ensure that zoning requirements, fire and structural safety standards and other building standards are met.

Before you apply for a Building Permit

Review these questions as you plan your project to ensure you have all the information required to apply for a building permit.

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.

Projects that require a Building Permit

Exterior

  • decks, porches, stairs (all decks serving a principal entrance)
  • Guard/railing replacement or new installation
  • fences for swimming pools (enclosures)
  • detached structures greater than 10 square metres (108 square feet) including sheds, gazebos, garages, tents, carports and covered porches
  • detached or attached decks 0.6m (24”) or more above grade
  • detached or attached decks greater than 10 square metres (108 square feet)
  • detached structure less than 10 square metres containing plumbing
  • additions (includes enclosing existing porch)
  • waterproofing/damp proofing foundation walls
  • replacing weeping tile
  • repairs to structural members (i.e. subfloor, roof sheathing, beams, lintels, etc.)
  • raising or lowering (underpinning) a house to provide a full basement
  • replacing roofing or exterior cladding with a different material
  • solar panels
  • ramps or elevating devices
  • replacing structures in same size same location

Interior

  • interior alterations including finishing or partially finishing a basement or other spaces
  • finishing existing non-finished space
  • walkout basement
  • replacement of interior railings/guards
  • adding an accessory apartment (conversion)
  • relocating rooms/creation of new rooms
  • material alterations including installing or replacing drywall and insulation
  • creating new door or window openings or increasing the size of openings
  • relocating door or window openings
  • adding or removing walls (non-load bearing and load bearing), beams and lintels
  • backwater valve
  • waterproofing/damp proofing foundation walls
  • internal weeping tile system
  • sump pump
  • fire damage repair
  • changing the use of a building (e.g. lodging house, bed and breakfast or changing any part of a building from one use to another)
  • establishing a home occupation (please contact us for more information)

Plumbing

  • new plumbing or relocating plumbing
  • new septic systems, repair or replacement
  • installation of water meter, water, sanitary and storm services to the property line (Single Family Dwellings only)
  • installation of internal plumbing

Heating

  • wood stoves or fireplaces
  • new or replacement of ductwork in an HVAC system

Demolition/Removal

  • demolitions for structures 10 square metres or greater
  • partial demolitions of buildings
  • partial demolition of an attached structure

Please review radon mitigation and testing requirements for new construction and additions to low-rise residential buildings.

If you are starting demolition or construction in an established neighbourhood, please review the Residential Infill Good Neighbour Guide to learn more about requirements and related approvals you should be aware of.

Projects that do not require a Building Permit

  • Building a detached structure such as a shed, garage or gazebo and less than 10 square metres (108 feet) in area that does not contain plumbing
  • Building a fence that does not enclose a pool (Refer to the City's Fence By-Law for details)
  • Installing minor millwork, cabinetry, and flooring such as carpet, laminate or hardwood
  • Repairing eavestroughs where drainage is contained within the property
  • Landscaping (a Site Alteration permit may be required for changes in grading)
  • Painting or decorating
  • Re-shingling a roof with the same roofing material
  • Replacing existing plumbing fixtures in the same location
  • Replacing existing windows to the same size and location where no fire resistance rating is required
  • Replacing a furnace
  • Demolition of a farm building
  • Demolition of a detached structure 10 square metres or less

There are many consequences that may include but are not limited to:

  • Receive order to comply to obtain a building/demolition permit that may be registered on title
  • Be issued a ticket with a set fine.  Penalties under Section 36 of the Building Code Act indicate maximum fines of $50,000 for an individual, or $500,000 for a corporation for a first offence
  • Ordered to stop work
  • Legal action may occur due to construction/demolition without building permit, or when failing to comply with an order
  • Additional costs to remedy the unpermitted construction (i.e hire Professional Engineer, deconstruction etc.)
  • Possible interference with applicable law (i.e Niagara Escarpment Commission, Conservation Authorities, Zoning by-law etc.)
  • Additional fees under Hamilton’s Building Permit By-Law 19-305
  • Additional complications with respect to unpermitted locations, encroachments

New construction or renovations must comply with Hamilton's Zoning By-laws for details like size, setback and location. A Building Permit will only be issued if the project complies with the Zoning By-Law for the property.

View the interactive zoning mapping to determine the zoning designation of a property.  Contact the Planning Division at 905-546-2424 x 2719 or email [email protected] when you are planning your project to determine the specific zoning requirements for a property. You may need additional approvals or time to obtain all of the necessary information.

If your project does not comply with the Zoning By-Law, you may apply for a minor variance.

Before work begins on a construction project, the building constructor in Health and Safety legislation may need to file a Notice of Project (NOP) to the Ministry of Labour. The Government of Ontario has some tools and information to keep you informed. You may be asked to complete the Notice of Project as the property owner. View a list of what you should know first.

If you have natural feature on or near your property, you may be required to get a permit from the Conservation Authority that oversees that watershed:

To determine what natural features are on or near your property, contact a Natural Heritage Planner at 905-546-2424 Ext. 1355 or visit City Hall, 5th Floor.

In some areas of the City, lands are under the control of the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC). You will be required to receive approval through a Development Permit from the Commission to develop your property.

  • Niagara Escarpment Commission: 905-877-5191

You may need to contact other organizations before you begin your project to access additional information or approvals.

Contact information you may need

Call Before You Dig 
1-800-400-2255
Open 24/7
Before you dig call Ontario One Call to locate any underground services.

Committee of Adjustment
905-546-4221
Call for minor variances from the Zoning By-law’s

Canadian Pacific Rail
1-800-766-7912
Call to do work under, over or beside tracks

Electrical Safety Authority
1-877-372-7233
Call for electrical permits and inspections

Encroachments and alley information
905-546-2424 ext. 4298
Call if your project encroaches onto City Property

Historical Designations and information
Email [email protected] if your property has a historical designation. Properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, must have a Heritage Permit before being issued a Building Permit.

Ministry of Transportation
416-235-4081 or 416-235-4387
See if your property is in the MTO Controlled area

Hydro One
1-888-664-9376
1-800-434-1235
Open 24/7
Call for disconnects, clearance for wires

Drinking Water Source Water Protection
Hamilton Water – Source Protection Planning
905-546-2424 ext. 6099
Call if your property has proposed development and is in the area of a public wellhead (i.e. Lynden, Greensville, Carlisle, Freelton)

Delays in permit issuance can be avoided if all drawings and specifications incorporate sufficient information to verify that the work will conform to the Ontario Building Code and the Zoning By-law. If you are not familiar with government regulations, by-laws and Ontario Building Code requirements, you may want to hire a designer. If your drawing and specifications are not complete or do not meet the Ontario Building Code or Hamilton’s Zoning By-law, approval for your permit will be delayed. Learm more about finding a qualified designer

As the owner, you may design your project and drawings. Discuss your project with material suppliers to determine costs, sizes and spans. You can also contact the Building Division via email ([email protected]) or in person to see examples of drawings showing the acceptable level of quality for your permit application.

Application checklists
Review these checklists to help ensure you submit a complete application:

All drawings must be to scale and printed in ink. Original drawings in pencil are not acceptable, but photocopies of penciled drawings may be sufficient. Plans must be fully dimensioned in either metric or imperial units, but not a combination of both.

Apply for a Building Permit

A property owner or an agent on behalf of the owner, such as a contractor or designer, can apply for a building permit for residential projects. If your designer or contractor applies on your behalf, ask them to include your contact information on the application. The applicant will be the primary contact for the Building division. Make sure to follow up with the applicant to receive updates.

You can apply in two ways:

Complete the Permit to Construct or Demolish application form (PDF, 72 KB). Ensure to include property address, owner/applicant and designer information, including designer schedule.

With your application, you must include: 

Building permit fees must be paid in full at the time of the application. You can pay by cash, cheque (payable to the City of Hamilton), debit or credit card. A Building Permit application is not officially complete, even after staff approval, until the City receives payment for the permit.

If you are submitting your application by mail and wish to pay by credit card, you will be contacted by staff regarding payment. Please note only the building permit fees can be paid by credit card. 

Include the following on your site plan (sample drawings included for guidance):

  • Title, scale, north arrow and proper dimensions
  • Legal description including lot and plan number, street name and municipal address number
  • Setbacks to all property lines for the existing dwelling and the proposed project such as porch, deck (PDF, 45 KB), garage, shed (PDF, 63 KB) or gazebo etc.
  • Any right of way and/or easements
  • Information on all accessory buildings such as the size and location of garages, sheds, decks, porches or swimming pools
  • Front yard landscaping, the driveway location and location of sidewalk, if applicable
  • Location of existing septic system, if applicable
  • Parking spaces
  • Your existing house and the size and location of the proposed project

For swimming pool enclosures you need to include on the Site Plan:

  • Location of pool, either existing or proposed, and pool equipment
  • Setbacks from all property lines
  • Location of the private sewage disposal system, if present on your property, and dimensions to the pool
  • Location of your utility reading device such as gas meter and any overhead wires
  • Details of the proposed or existing enclosure or gates

For accessory buildings such as sheds, garages or gazebos your drawing should include:

  • Dimensions of proposed accessory building, including the height from grade to roof peak
  • Slab (PDF, 254 KB), foundation wall or pier construction details including size, depth, and compressive strength of concrete
  • Width, location and lintel size of all openings
  • Size, spacing and grade of studs and any structural members
  • Roof framing - size, spacing and grade of rafters, showing support details at all bearing points; or, if using trusses, the manufacturer's engineered drawings

For porches and decks, your drawing should include:

  • Size and dimensions of the proposed porch or deck in relation to the existing structure
  • Height from grade to top of slab, decking, railing and/or roof
  • Construction of stairs, guards and handrails, including stair width, stringer size, rise, run, guard spacing, height, material and attachment details
  • Roof framing material, size, grade and spacing of rafters, showing support details at all bearing points
  • Footing, foundation or pier construction details including size, depth and compressive strength of concrete
  • Wood frame deck construction indicating size, grade, direction, spacing and span of joists and beams
  • Concrete porch construction indicating concrete compressive strength, thickness of slab, size and spacing of any rebar present and means of support

For interior renovations, contact the building division for further information as requirements may vary based on scope of work

Before a demolition permit is issued, all services must be properly disconnected to the dwelling or structure. 

Complete the Disconnection of Services form (PDF, 22 KB) and submit with building permit application along with the Demolition Application Checklist (PDF, 101 KB)

Contact information for disconnecting a service

Hamilton Emergency Services - Fire Inspection
Fire Prevention Bureau
55 King William Street - 2nd Floor, Hamilton
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext.1380
Fax: 905-546-4566

Water Service
330 Wentworth Street North, Hamilton
Phone: 905-546-4426
Fax: 905-546-2627

Sewer Lateral Reuse Inspection
P&ED - Project Manager, Growth Mangement
71 Main Street West, 6th floor, Hamilton
Phone: 905-246-2424 ext. 7860
Must consult with Growth Management staff

Union Gas - Gas (Exterior)
4475 Mainway Drive, Burlington, Ontario
Phone: 1-855-228-4898 ext. 5111111
Fax: 1-866-263-0581
Email: [email protected]

Union Energy/Reliance Home Comfort - Equipment Removal
830 Harrington Court, Burlington, Ontario
Phone: 905-681-4145
Fax: 905-333-2689

Alectra Utilities (Contact your provider only)
Phone: 905-317-4575 (Ask for Clearance No.)
Fax: 1-877-236-6395

Bell Canada
Phone: 1-800-965-6667 (Ask for Clearance No.)
Fax: 905-527-2187
Email: [email protected]

Hydro One Electrical (Contact your provider only)
Phone: 1-888-652-2302 (Ask for Clearance No.)
Fax: 519-426-9934

Forestry Protection Services
Phone: 905-546-2424, ext. 7375
Fax: 905-546-4473
Email: [email protected]

If you are hiring a contractor, make sure they have a valid Trade Licence from the City. For more information, contact Municipal Law Enforcement at 905-546-2782 and choose option 3 for Licensing.

Tips to consider when selecting a contractor

  • Ensure the contractor has a valid trade licence
  • Do not get pressured into signing anything
  • Always get a written estimate and at least three quotes
  • Get a fully itemized estimate and make sure the details are written into a contract
  • Get other quotes if you are asked to give a down payment of more than 5% to 15% of the total contract price
  • Determine if the job requires a Building Permit. It is your responsibility to get a Building Permit, if you need one, before you start construction

Licensed contractors

All contractors must have a valid Trade and Contractor Licence to operate in Hamilton.

Trades that require a licence include:

  • Building repair contractors such as roofers, carpenters, bricklayers, concrete workers, window and door installers, siding contractors and foundation waterproofing contractors
  • Drain contractors
  • Plumbing contractors
  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning contractors
  • Fire sprinkler installer contractors

In order to get a valid licence, contractors go through a process to ensure they have:

  • Police criminal check
  • Third party liability insurance

When you apply for a Building Permit, you must provide the licence number of the contractor who is doing the work.

Looking for a specific contractor? View our Open Data list of Licensed Contractors. Use the filter tools to enter a name to search the listing online.

Contractor inspections

The City usually only investigates contractors if a complaint is made. If we receive a complaint of anyone operating without a valid licence, we ensure compliance with Hamilton’s Licensing By-Law No. 07-170.

Inspectors can carry out random spot checks to see if a contractor is operating with a proper licence.

Contact us

Building Division
City Hall, 3rd floor
Phone: 905-546-2720
Email: [email protected]