Building Permits test

Find information on building permits requirements, costs, timelines, forms and documents, how to apply and the status of your building permits.

On this page

  1. Process to get a building permit
  2. Does my project require a building permit
  3. Cost of building permits
  4. Timelines for my building permit
  5. Forms required for my permit
  6. How to apply for a building permit
  7. Status of my building permit

Process to get a building permit

The entire process to getting a building permit is laid out below. Ensure you have checked with the required divisions and have all your documentation and forms before applying.

Check the zoning requirements for your project location. Make sure it conforms to the city's Zoning Bylaws. You can reference our interactive map or call our zoning department at 519-747-8752.

Check if you live near a flood zone. The Grand River Conservation Authority can help you.

Locate any buried infrastructure on the property and identify it safely through Ontario One Call or 1-800-400-2255.

Contact our heritage planners if you live in a heritage designated property to see if your property requires special heritage submission. 

Gather the required documentation and forms for your permit. These vary based on the type of permit you are applying for. View the specific project page to find out what documentation is required.

Submit your application by email, in-person, mail or some applications are accepted online on the mypermits portal. Our building officials review your application and reach out if clarification is required. They will tell you whether your application is approved or denied. 

If your application is denied, the building officials will tell you why and you will be able to apply again. You will have to pay the application fee again. If your application is approved you will be asked to pay the remaining amount of your building permit and a permit file will be created. 

Once your file is created, a detailed review takes place that may include other divisions. Our zoning division, planning, municipal enforcement, engineering and fire divisions may look over a permit. Note this is not for all applications. Some permits vary in size from small renovations to very large developments.

Does my project require a building permit?

You require a building permit for the following projects (but may not be exclusive to):

  • deck or balcony when it already had a permit or is 24 inches above ground
  • porch covering/gazebo/cabana that is _________
  • shed or detached garage when changes are over 10 sq.m. in area or contains any plumbing
  • building a new home, an addition or a secondary unit
  • multi-residential unit (four or more units) or non-residential units when constructing, modifications or renovating
  • demolishing a building or part of building (not an interior demolition)
  • renovations and basements when:
    • finishing an unfinished space in a home
    • adding or removing walls
    • material changes to change the insulation type of value of walls
    • structural changes
    • addition or change of plumbing, including the installation of a fixture where a rough-in already exists
    • change of current use to the space
    • creating a second unit
  • tent when:
    • more than 60 sq.m. (646 sq.ft) in area for a single tent
    • more than 60 sq.m. (646 sq.ft) in combined area for a group of tents
    • attached to a building
    • assembled less than 3 m (9’-10”) from other buildings/structures
  • solar panel when:
    • more than 5 sq.m. (54 sq.ft) in total area and installed on a building
    • designed to provide hot water
    • designed to provide primary or supplementary heating

See our fence and enclosures page regarding permits on fences and pools.

Cost of building permits

The fees for a building department will depend on your project. The cost will be determined once you have submitted your application forms.

We have listed our most popular permit fees.

Residential fees

  • deck $75.00
  • shed $75.00
  • garage $75.00
  • finished basement (including renovation) $75.00
  • change of use $75.00

Fees per square feet

  • single detached, semi-detached, townhouse, duplex, triplex, apartment building $0.80
  • interior finish of a space (from shell) $0.25
  • interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.35

Non residential fees - permit fee per square feet

  • interior finish of a space (from shell) $0.25
  • interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.35
  • temporary tent or groups of tent - flat rate $125.00

View all permits fees on our fees bylaw

Timelines for my building permit

10 business days

A house where no living space is located above another unit. This includes a tent, detached house, semi-detached house, townhouse, a row house and an accessory structure not exceeding 55 sq.m. that serves the above items.

15 business days

When a building of three of fewer storeys in height including a duplex, a triplex and a building area not exceeding 600 sq.m. is used as residential. This does not include buildings used for retirement homes, business and personal services, commercial or low/medium hazard industrial occupancy.

20 business days

For an assembly care, care and treatment or detention, high hazard industrial occupancy and buildings exceeding 600 sq.m. in area zoned and used for residential, business and personal services, commercial or low/medium hazard industrial occupancy.

Forms required for my permit

The forms that you require will depend on the permit you get. All permits will require a permit application and additional forms will vary depending on the permit type. Visit the project page to find forms and documents relevant to your project.

How to apply for a building permit

Before applying for your permit ensure that all necessary permissions, drawings, documents and approvals are met.

There are four ways to apply for a building permit:
  1. Online – submit complete applications or renewals using our mypermits portal. (payment methods required) for the below permit types:
    • new single detached home
    • semidetached home
    • townhome
  2. In person – bring forms and/or digital copies to the IPPW counter on the second floor of city hall. We're open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. We accept cash, cheque payable to the City of Waterloo, or debit.
  3. By email – send digital forms to (attachment limit is 10MB total). Submissions larger than 10MB can be uploaded through 2Big4Email.
    Submit payment in person at the IPPW counter on the second floor of city hall by cash, cheque payable to the City of Waterloo, or debit accepted.

    Note that for email submissions, the permit application will not be accepted until payment is made.

  4. By mail – send cheque payable to the City of Waterloo to:

City of Waterloo
Building Standards
100 Regina St. S.
PO Box 337
STN Waterloo
Waterloo, ON
N2J 4A8

Status of my building permit

  • Response times vary depending on the type of permit.
  • You will be contacted during the review by a plans examiner if there are any concerns or additional information is required. 
  • The response will be in the form of an issued permit or a status letter outlining potential deficiencies from the plans examiner.
  • If there are no concerns your permit will be issued within the response times listed.
  • Do not reach out to our building division regarding a permit response, please wait to hear whether your permit was issued in the form of a status letter.