Permits & Inspections

Building Permits for Small Businesses

Installing a shield at your customer service counter?

The height and type of protective shield will determine the requirement for a Building Permit. View the Guide for Businesses Installing Shields at Counters


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.

Access to Property Records within the Building Division may be requested using the online Property Records Search Application.

When do you need a Building Permit?

Examples of projects that require a building permit:

  • Adding a patio (temporary use by-law for tents)
  • Adding or modifying a ramp or deck
  • Removing, adding or modifying 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 or modifying plumbing
  • Constructing a washroom or barrier-free washroom
  • Installing a grease interceptor or backflow preventer
  • Installing a commercial sign
  • Installing a full height protective shield to the underside of the ceiling
  • Changing use and occupancy of a building from one business use to a different business use (i.e. from office to restaurant)

Examples of 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

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. Person listed as applicant will receive updates on status of building permit application and review comments. You may want to follow up with the applicant of your application on a regular basis to stay informed on the status.

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 particular OBC code requirements your designer has questions on. There is a pre-consultation meeting fee. Please refer to Hamilton’s Building Permit By-law 19-305.

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
Email: [email protected]

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 or less in building height 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
  • Provide all required fire separations with proper reference to SB2, SB3 or ULC.

Ensure you have completed these, where applicable, before you apply for a building permit:

  • Zoning Verification (if applicable)
  • Site plan approval for new buildings (contact [email protected] or 905-546-2424 x 1355)
  • Encroachment approval if proposal encroaches onto City property

You will need to:

You must also submit two copies of the following drawings:

  • Floor plans for each floor with details showing compliance with the requirements of the Ontario Building Code
  • Elevations
  • Cross sections
  • Mechanical, structural and/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 L8P 4Y5

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.