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How to Apply for a Building Permit in Hamilton?

Applying for a building permit can be a relatively simple process given some guidance. So let us show you the basics. As long as you’re prepared to be a little courageous you may not even need a firm such as Truenorth to bring your vision to life for those smaller jobs. For straightforward residential renovations including small detached structures and interior alterations including decks, sheds, gazebos, basements, non-finished spaces, or the creation of new rooms, you can design your project and drawings and exempt yourself from requiring a qualified designer.

How You Ask?

Great question. There are two ways to apply for a building permit. Online via ePLANS. Or in person at City Hall. Let’s assume you go for the simpler second option - you’re going to need to download and complete this Permit to Construct or Demolish Application Form from City of Hamilton's website, or download it here below.

Download PDF • 74KB

This application form has three parts:
  1. Main Form - Project Information

  2. Schedule 1 Form - Designer Information

  3. Schedule 2 Form - Sewage System Installer Information

First. Complete the Main Form with basic information requested. Keep your description short and concise in bullet point format with no more than 50 words if possible.

Second. Complete the Schedule 1 Form with your own personal information. The rest is pretty intuitive. However under Section D. Basis for Exemption From Registration input: "HOMEOWNER". By writing this answer as your basis for exemption from BCIN designer registration, you are accepting liability for the work to be conducted as you are rightly entitled to do so as the homeowner/landlord. What is a BCIN? BCIN stands for Building Code Identification Number, and is awarded to architectural designers and technologists who have successfully sat the Building Code Examination.

Ignore Schedule 2 Form. You won’t need it unless you’re replacing Sewage System. Focus on the Main Form and Schedule 1 Form.

Lastly. With all forms completed, you will need to produce and attach drawings showing the acceptable level of quality for your permit application which conforms with Ontario Building Code and Zoning By-laws. This is the part where you may need a qualified design team such as ours.

Alternatively, find a junior draftsperson to produce your drawings. They will no doubt be highly competent experts at CAD, but might fall short on understanding local building codes and municipal bylaws impacting design parameters to meet Hamilton's building division approval. If you think it's expensive to hire a professional wait until you hire an amateur. It's ultimately your call and budget.

What Else Should Be Included?

You will also need to include a Site Plan and Detailed Drawings as outlined below:

Site Plan
  • 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

  • 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

  • Any parking spaces

  • Your existing house and the size and location of the proposed project

Detailed Drawings
  • Size and dimensions of the proposed project in relation to the existing structure

  • Construction sections, elevations, size, spacing, grade, pitch, rise, height, depth, directions, spacing, span, materials, supports, strength, bearing points, foundations, attachment, notes. Etc.

With all checklists complete and your package in hand, head to a local printer to help you print two copies. Proofread everything to ensure that all text is legible and all drawings are clearly presentable. Place everything in a large envelope and head over to Hamilton City Hall located at 52 Jackson Street West. The Building Division is located on the Ground Floor, where you will be asked to pay a $265 minimum building permit fee upon submission as well as any other applicable fees depending on the scope of your project.

If applying online via ePLANS - simply setup a profile, input required information, make payment, and ensure that your uploaded submissions meet the required file sizes, formats, and naming criteria. The downside using the online portal is that it’s can become a pretty frustrating process to meet pre-screening approval. However, the upside is that once everything is up and running you can easily track the submission 24/7 with automatic updates which can help create efficiencies.

Which Projects Require 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 as outlined below.

  • 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, 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 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)

  • 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

  • wood stoves or fireplaces

  • new or replacement of ductwork in an HVAC system

  • demolitions for structures 10 square metres or greater

  • partial demolitions of buildings

  • partial demolition of an attached structure

Which Projects Do Not Require a Building Permit?

In accordance with City of Hamilton municipal by-laws the projects outlined below do not need a building permit.

Interior & Exterior
  • 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

  • installing minor millwork, cabinetry, and flooring such as carpet, laminate or hardwood

  • repairing eavestroughs where drainage is contained within the property

  • landscaping

  • 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 & 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

How Can We Help?

We understand that this is all a lot to take in if this is your first time approaching a renovation so it’s normal to be a little worried and stressed and why we’re here to help.

If you need any no obligation advice feel free to get in touch with a project advisor now to discuss your upcoming project by completing our contact form or calling us at 289-788-8100 between 8AM - 6PM Monday to Friday.


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