Building Permits

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. Permit types
  3. Projects that require a building permit
  4. Projects that don't require a building permit
  5. How to submit a building permit application
  6. Timelines for my building permit
  7. Cost of building permits
  8. Contact the building department

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.

Before you start

Applying for a permit

  1. View the page specific to your project to find the correct documentation instructions and forms for the permit type you need. 
  2. Gather the documentation and complete the forms required for your permit. 
  3. Submit your permit. View the four ways you can submit your permit to the building department.

Permit approval process

  • submitted applications enter a queue for first review
  • you are notified in writing within 2 business days if there are missing items
  • applications are incomplete until all outstanding items are submitted 
  • timelines begin when all outstanding items are submitted and permit fees are paid
  • city staff review complete applications
  • the plans examiner notifies the applicant by email of any deficiencies in the application
  • if no changes are required or once all deficiencies are corrected, the permit will be issued

Permit types

Find information including required fees, timelines for permits, forms, drawings and documentation for all of our permit types.


Projects that require a building permit

You require a building permit for the following projects:

  • deck or balcony greater than 24 inches above ground
  • porch covering, gazebo or cabana that is greater than 10 sq m. or 108 sq ft.
  • any structure that is attached to a house
  • alterations to a structure (other than a shed, see exemption below) greater than 10 sq m. or 108 sq ft. in area or contains plumbing
  • building a new home, an addition or a secondary unit
  • multi-residential unit (four or more units) or non-residential units when constructing, modifying 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
    • changing the insulation type or R-value
    • structural changes
    • addition or change to plumbing
    • change of current use to the space
    • creating a second unit in your home
  • tents when they are over 60 sq m. including groups of tents
  • solar panels when they are over 5 sq m. in area and provide a source of heat
  • demountable stages and associated sound and lighting equipment towers

Projects that don't require a building permit

You do not require a building permit for the following projects:

  • interior finishes such as new flooring, paint or decaling, cabinets and counter tops
  • replacing windows and doors, where the size of the opening is not changing
  • re-shingling a roof, provided existing shingles are removed
  • replacing a plumbing fixture with the same type, in the same location
  • decks less than 24" (600mm) from grade without a roof
  • detached sheds 15 sq m. (161 sq ft.) in area or less, that are only one storey in building height, not attached to a building or any other structure, is used for storage purposes ancillary to a principal building on the lot and that does not contain plumbing
  • replacing siding on a house, garage or accessory building
  • installing an eavestrough system where drainage will not affect other properties

Fences and pool enclosures, paving and driveway widening projects do not require a building permit but are regulated under bylaws and enforcement. 

Residential rental licenses are regulated under bylaws and enforcement.


How to submit a building permit application

Before applying for your permit ensure that all necessary permissions, drawings, documents and approvals are met. Check the permit requirements and find the right form based on permit type.

Digital copies are required for most permit applications. Digital copies are optional for decks, sheds and small residential renovations. Digital files must be:

  • in PDF format and complete with a digital signature with BCIN declaration and/or an architect/engineer stamp as applicable
  • submitted by email or by using a rewritable disk (DVD-RW or DVD+RW) or a USB memory stick
  • extractable if compressed and not password protected

There are four ways to submit a building permit:

  1. Online – submit complete applications or renewals using our mypermits portal. Payment types accepted in the portal are credit card or debit. 
  2. In person –  bring digital copies of application forms, documents and drawings depending on permit type 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, debit or cheque payable to the City of Waterloo.
  3. By email – send digital forms and drawings to building@waterloo.ca (email attachment limit is 10MB total). Submissions larger than 10MB can be uploaded through this link.
    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 is accepted.

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

  4. By mail – send forms and drawings with 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


Timelines for my building permit

The processing timelines are outlined below. The provincially mandated timeframes are based on the date that the application is deemed complete.

10 business days

  • permits for new, additions to and renovations to houses (including single detached, semi-detached and townhouses)
  • permits for decks, sheds and detached garages serving houses
  • permits for temporary tents

15 business days

  • permits for new, additions to and renovations to a building three or fewer storeys in height and a building area not exceeding 600 sq m. that does not contain an assembly, care and detention or high hazard industrial occupancy
  • permits for secondary dwelling units in houses

20 business days

  • permits for new buildings, additions and renovations to buildings exceed three storeys and/or 600 sq m. in area
  • permits for assembly, care and detention or high hazard industrial occupancies

30 business days

  • a high rise building, buildings with interconnected floor space or post-disaster buildings

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.

  • permit fees below are grouped by type
  • be sure to reference the notes after the last table
  • view all permit fees in Schedule C of the fees bylaw (PDF)
Group A: Assembly Permit fee 
per sq. ft.
 Flat fee
Assembly building (finished) $2.25
Assembly building (shell only) $1.97
Interior finish (from shell) $0.35
Interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.49
Outdoor patio  $176.00
Outdoor public pool —   $773.00
Group B: Institutional Permit fee 
per sq. ft.
Flat fee
Institutional building (finished) $2.39
Institutional building (shell only) $2.11
Interior finish (from shell) $0.35
Interior Renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.49
Group C: Residential Permit fee 
per sq. ft.
 Flat fee
Single detached, semi-detached, townhouse, duplex, triplex $1.12
Garage/carport (per bay)  $105.00
Shed  $105.00
Deck  $105.00
Apartment building $1.12
Hotel/motel (or similar) $1.90
Residential care facility $1.33
Interior finish (from shell) $0.35
Interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.49
Finished basement (including renovation) n/a  $280.00
Group D: Business professional services Permit fee 
per sq. ft.
Flat fee
Business personal service building (finished)  $1.90
Business personal service building (shell only) $1.62
Interior finish (from shell) $1.33
Interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.49
Group E: Mercantile Permit fee 
per sq. ft.
Flat fee
Mercantile/retail building (finished) $1.33
Mercantile/retail building (shell only) $1.05
Interior finish (from shell) $0.35
Interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.49
Group F: Industrial Permit fee 
per sq. ft.
Flat fee
Industrial Building (finished) $0.77
Industrial Building (shell only) $0.63
Interior finish (from shell) $0.35
Interior renovation (interior demolition and renovation) $0.49
Storage garage (parking garage) $0.70
Special categories Permit fee per sq. ft.  Flat fee
Alternative solution (house scope) $251.00
Alternative solution (part 9 scope) $627.00
Alternative solution (part 3 scope) $1882.00

Special Permit I: construction commenced prior to the issuance of a building permit

Find notes below this table

Special Permit II: accessory structures where construction commenced prior to the issuance of a building permit (includes decks, pools, hot tubs, sheds, and any other accessory building)

$281.00
Exterior work (independent of a building permit, including retaining walls, exterior wall modifications and any other exterior work) 1% of construction cost
Heritage exterior work (where a permit would otherwise not be required)  $140.50
Farm building $0.35
Foundation only $0.08

Conditional permit (sq. ft. and flat fee both apply)

Find notes below this table
Minor alterations (includes beam installations, basement walkout stairs, etc.)  $105.00
Air supported structures $0.42
Temporary tents (or group of tents)  $175.75
Portables on one site (excludes port-a-pak)  $140.50
Demolitions (less than 10,000 sq. ft.)  $105.00
Demolitions (10,000 to 20,000 sq. ft.) $281.00
Demolitions (greater than 20,000 sq. ft.)  $377.00
Interior demolitions (back to shell) 1% of construction cost
Change of use  $105.00
Miscellaneous work (includes fire restoration and any other work not categorized elsewhere) 1% of construction cost
Mechanical work (independent of a building permit) 1% of construction cost
Sprinkler systems (commercial kitchen, spray booth, dust collectors)  $140.00
Electrical work (independent of a building permit, including adding magnetic locks, fire alarm upgrades and any other electrical work)  1% of construction cost
Plumbing work (independent of a building permit, including adding, removing or relocating plumbing fixtures) 1% of construction cost
Septic systems (new)   $562.00
Septic systems (repair)   $176.00
Solar panels connected to only electrical (small buildings) $105.00
Solar panels connected to water or heating (small buildings) $211.00
Solar panels (large buildings) $351.00
Site service (no rebate fee) $105.00 

Notes about permits

Special Permit I
We will double the permit fee if construction starts before a permit is issued:

  • if this amount exceeds $5,000, the penalty will incrementally decrease from 100% of the original permit fee to 15% of the original permit fee

  • the incremental decrease will only apply if the original permit fee amount is between $5,000 and $67,000

  • permit fees over $67,000 will pay 15%

Conditional permits 
We will charge a fee of $421.48 plus $0.08/sq. ft. of the area for a conditional permit. You must submit an additional deposit in the form of a certified cheque or letter of credit to the Chief Building Official. The Chief Building Official will determine the amount of the deposit.

Shell permits 
Shell permits include mechanical and electrical rough-ins.

Foundation permits
Foundation permits limit work to footings and foundation walls and the installation of underground plumbing, water supply piping and sewers to property line.

Occupancy Permit
If the Ontario Building Code requires an occupancy permit, the original permit fee will include it. You can request an additional copy of the occupancy permit for $63.

Revision to examined plans
If the original building permit fee is more than $210, we will charge a fee for the examination of revised plans. The fee will be $0.01/sq. ft. of the revised floor area or $210, whichever is greater.

Affordable housing development
The city may offer a grant to cover or offset building permit fees, as approved by council (until the city's Affordable Housing Grant policy, currently under development, comes into effect).

Minimum Fee
We charge a minimum fee of $105 for any permit application.

Additional Inspections
We may charge a fee of $210 for additional inspections if the inspection is not ready on a second attempt.


Contact the Building Department

 Call 519-747-8712 or email building@waterloo.ca to book an appointment.