Ontario Building Code

What is the Ontario Building Code?

The Building Code Act, 1992 is the legislative framework governing the construction, renovation and change-of-use of a building. The Ontario Building Code is a regulation under the Act that establishes detailed technical and administrative requirements as well as minimum standards for building construction. The purposes of the Ontario Building Code include; public health and safety, fire protection, resource conservation, environmental integrity and accessibility although its primary purpose is the promotion of public safety through the application of appropriate uniform building standards. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for the development of, and the amendments to the Building Code Act and the Code.

What is a Building Official?

A Building Official is a person appointed by a municipality or other principle authority to enforce the Building Code Act, 1992, and the Ontario Building Code. They often carry different titles such as Chief Building Official, supervisor, manager, inspector and plans examiner, but all are members of the same profession.
A Building Official carries out the following activities:

  • Provide technical and legislative information to designers, contractors, municpal elected officials and the public.
  • Examine and inspect construction within a municipality to ensure complaince with the design plans, the Building Code and other applicable regulations.
  • Applying, interpreting and enforcing the Building Code Requirements.
  • Employing all of ones technical and personal skills to gain voluntary complaince to the Code.
  • Emplying legislative actions such as issuing orders and initiating court proceedings to gaim complaince if not given voluntarily.
  • Co-operating with other officials to act within the interest of the public.

Being a Building Official calls for a combination of technical knowledge and an ability to deal with the public, this requires tact and good judgment.

Where can I find a copy of the Ontario Building Code?

The Ontario Building Code can be found at: Ontario Building Code, 2014 Office Consolidation

Who Develops and Amends the Ontario Building Code?

The Ontario Building Code is developed and amended by the Ministry of Municpal Affairs and Housing. Information can be found on their website at: MMAH Building Regulations


Building Permits

What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is formal approval from the City of Port Colborne to construct, add to, or renovate a building on your property.

Why is a Building Permit Needed?

Building Officials require building permits to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the building occupants is upheld.  Building permits also help you, the owner, to understand what the local by-laws and regulations are.  Building Officials use building permits as a vital step in the enforcement of Codes and By-laws.  It is through this process that the Building Official can help to ensure that your project is built in accordance with all of the applicable Codes and By-laws.  Before the start of any construction project a building permit must be issued.  To commence construction without a building permit is illegal and a Procincal Offence under the Ontario Building Code Act.

Simply put, a buidling permit ensures that buildings comply with:

  • The Ontario Building Code, which sets standards for design and materials
  • The City of Port Colborne Zoning By-law, which provides regulations on building setbacks and uses
  • Other health and safety regulations

When is a Building Permit Required?

  • New construction over 108 square feet (10 square metres) in area (i.e. houses and other dwellings)
  • Accessory Buildings over 108 square feet (10 square metres) in area (i.e. detached garages and tool sheds)
  • Additions/Extensions of any size to existing buildings (i.e. sunrooms, porches, carports, garages, dormers, second storeys, etc.)
  • Wood decks greater than 24 inches (600 mm) above adjacent finished grade
  • Renovations (i.e. skylights, patio doors, rec room and other interior renovations)
  • Changes in Use to a use with an increased hazard (i.e. from residential to retail)
  • Structural Alteration (i.e. removing load bearing walls, beams, columns, reconstructing basement walls, foundations, floors and roof structures)
  • Pre-fabricated Buildings over 108 square feet (10 square metres) in area (i.e. portable classrooms, kiosks, garages, tool sheds, patior roofs/enclosures)
  • Farm Buildings (i.e. barns, greenhouses, etc.)
  • Fireplaces (i.e. wood stoves, chimneys, etc.)
  • Material Alterations - alterations to or new exit facilities, fire separations, fire protection systems (i.e. fire alarms, sprinklers, standpipe)
  • Plumbing - alterations or new plumbing systems as well as water and sewer installations where applicable
  • Swimming Pools (above-ground, in-ground or inflatable)
  • Demolition (except for farm buildings)
  • Permanent Tents
  • Temporary Event Tents
  • Any other building or structure designated by the Building Code as well as any relocated structure

Note: This list should not be considered all-inclusive.  If your project is not mentioned please contact the Building Division.  All buildings are required to meet certain zoning restrictions with respect to building location and use as set out in the City's Zoning By-law.  These restrictions apply whether a building permit is required or not.

How do I apply for a Building Permit

Submit a completed application form with two sets of the required information.  The information required is listed on the building permit application for each different section.  An application is considered incomplete if the required information is not submitted at the time of application.  If the application is not complete at the time of submission, delays may occur due to lack of information.  To ensure a quick response it is very important to submit a complete application.

What Happens to my Application?

Municipal building staff will review your application to confirm that the proposed work complies with the Ontario Building Code and the local zoning by-law. They may also send it to other municipal officials for comments. If there are problems with your application or your plan, the staff will tell you why and will show you what you have to do.

Applications for a simple alteration or addition can be processed fairly quickly, but more complex proposals may take longer. If you need a zoning change or a minor variance from the zoning by-law, or if the work does not comply with the building code, a permit will not be issued until all the changes have been made.

If your property is covered by a site plan control bylaw you will not get a building permit until you have met all the requirements set out in the by-law.

What Happens During Construction?

Building permits often list the kinds of inspections that will have to be done during construction. A building inspector will inspect the work to determine if it is carried out in accordance with the building code, your permit, and the approved plans.

 You will also be required to:

  • Show your permit in a window or other place where it can be easily seen
  • Keep copies of the plans on site
  • Contact the municipality at the approprate stages of construction of inspections
  • Tell the municipality about any last-minute changes, which will have to be approved

The inspector must always be able to see the work. If it's different from the work that was approved, you will be told to correct it. If you don't, the municipality can take legal action.

What About Demolition?

Before you take down all or part of a building, you will have to apply for a demolition permit. The process is much the same as for a building permit, but some special situations may affect your application. A copy of the Demolition Permit can be found below along with contact list for utility services and information to the permit holders. 

In a demolition control area, for example, you will not be able to demolish a residential property until you have received a building permit for new construction.

Or, because of the building's historic or architectural importance, it may be designated, or be intended for designation as a heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act. In that case demolition will require Council's approval and there may have to be negotiations over how some of the unique character of the building can be preserved.

What if I want to Change a Building's Use?

If you want to change the way you use all or part of your building you may need a change of use permit, even if you're not planning any construction. A building evaluation may have to be done to make sure that the existing building can support the proposed use.

Different uses have different code requirements.

Call the building department (see contact information below) to find out whether you will need a change of use permit.

What Happens if I don't get a Building Permit?

Anyone who is charged and found guilty of building without a permit can be fined up to $25,000 for a first offence and up to $50,000 for later offences.

Fines can also be imposed if you don't follow an order from the building department.

What Other Approvals May be Required?

In addition to planning approval and building permit which are required for a building project, there are other permits and approvals required in particular circumstances. For example, a septic tank permit is required for a new septic system. In cottage areas, a permit may be required from the Ministry of Natural Resources before you do any construction in the water (for example, a dock or boathouse with solid foundation).

To excavate, erect, alter, repair a building including a building intended for farm and farming purposes and the moving of a building various permit fees are required.