Building Permits for Small Businesses

Applying for a building permit is a vital step before you begin any construction project. You will need a building permit if you make any changes to the structure of your building such as demolishing, altering the interior, or changing or expanding the use of a building.

When do you need a Building Permit

Projects that require a building permit:

  • Adding a patio
  • Removing or adding interior walls
  • Installing a commercial cooking exhaust system
  • Installing or modifying the sprinkler system
  • Reconstructing or modifying the storefront window
  • Installing exit signs and an emergency lighting system
  • Installing plumbing
  • Constructing a washroom or barrier-free washroom
  • Installing a grease interceptor or backflow preventer
  • Changing from one business use to a different business use

Projects that do not require a building permit:

  • Painting, floor tiling or carpeting
  • Installation of minor millwork and cabinetry
  • Reroofing with the same materials as the existing roof
  • Replacement of existing plumbing and electrical fixtures
  • Replacement of existing windows to the same size and location
  • Furnace replacement 

Building permits are necessary to meet zoning requirements, fire and structural safety standards and other building standards. It is the property owner's responsibility to get a building permit before beginning construction or demolition work.

If you are not sure if you need a building permit call 905-546-2720 to talk with Building staff.

A property owner or an agent on behalf of the owner such as a contractor or designer can apply for a building permit for small businesses. If your designer or contractor applies on your behalf, ask them to include your contact information on the application so that you are able to receive updates at the same time your contractor or designer receives them.

You may want to have your designer set up an Ontario Building Code pre-consultation meeting with city staff. This meeting allows you or your designer to review all major issues with your renovation and address them in the building permit application.

Contact Building staff to schedule a pre-consultation meeting:

In-person at City Hall, 71 Main Street West, 3rd Floor, Hamilton
Phone: 905-546-2720
building@hamilton.ca

The pre-consultation meeting fee is $136 per hour of review time.

When you prepare your building permit application for a retail store or restaurant, make sure you:

  • Retain a designer with Building Code Identification Number qualifications for smaller buildings up to 600 m2 in gross floor area and three storeys and/or
  • Retain a licensed professional engineer and/or architect for large buildings and restaurants with seating for more than 30 persons.

Review and include the following with your building permit application:

  • Provide barrier-free washrooms and barrier-free entrance
  • Provide new or additional washrooms
  • Construct fire separations including rated doors and windows
  • Install or modify existing sprinklers
  • Install exit signs and/or emergency lighting
  • For restaurants you will need to use a licensed professional engineer to install an oil or grease interceptor and a commercial cooking exhaust

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

You must also submit two copies of the following drawings:

  • Floor plans for each floor
  • Elevations
  • Cross sections
  • Mechanical, structural or electrical plans or data
  • Truss details
  • Plot plan, survey or site plan

Submit your application and drawings in person to:

Building Division
City Hall
71 Main Street West, 3rd Floor
Hamilton, Ontario

Application fee: 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. The maximum amount that we can charge to a credit card is $1000.

Before we accept a building permit application, it must be complete and approvals for all applicable laws must be in place. Estimated approval times for permits for:

  • Smaller projects such as independent retail stores and offices is 15 business days. Staff will review or approve your application and provide you with any feedback within this time period.
  • Projects in larger buildings such as a restaurants or mall renovations may take up to 30 days.

Staff will contact you or your agent when:

  • your application is approved
  • if your application is incomplete or requires additional information

If there are problems with your application, staff will provide you with a list of deficiencies that you will have to address in order to get your building permit approved.

Starting construction without a building permit

If you start construction before you get a building permit, you may receive an Order to Comply or Stop Work Order and/or legal action may be initiated. Building Inspectors enforce this legislation. You may also need to:

  • Pay for repairs for work that is not in compliance with the Ontario Building Code and/or other applicable laws
  • Remove work done that is not in compliance with the Ontario Building Code and/or other applicable laws
  • Pay an increased fee for the building permit