Building Services FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a building permit?

    A building permit is a document issued under the Ontario Building Code Act by the Dufferin County building services division, on behalf of the following municipalities: Amaranth, East Garafraxa, Grand Valley, Melancthon, Mono, Mulmur, and Shelburne.

    Permit Applications



  • When is a building permit required?

    The Building Code Act requires that a Building Permit be obtained for the construction of:

    • Any structure occupying an area greater than 10 meters squared consisting of a wall, roof and floor or a structural system serving the function thereof including all plumbing, works, fixtures, and service systems.
    • A structure occupying an area of 10 meters squared or less that contains plumbing.
    • Plumbing not located in a structure.
    • A sewage disposal system
    • Structures designated in the building code.

    Examples of projects requiring building permits are (but not limited to):

    • Any detached building having a building area of more than 10 meters squared (108 square feet)
    • Any addition to an existing building
    • Any structural alterations – for example: add or remove a structural wall, add a new window or door; alter the size of an existing window or door, repair fire damage, or replace roof structure, etc.
    • Detached or attached garages, carports, sheds or accessory buildings
    • Decks, porches, sunrooms and solariums
    • Creating an apartment or in-law suite
    • Finishing a basement or adding a basement entrance
    • Moving or raising an existing building
    • Roof mounted solar panels
    • Replacing or moving furnace and ductwork
    • Completing a rough-in bathroom or washroom
    • Adding or relocating a bathroom or washroom
    • Installing or altering plumbing and/or drains
    • Installing a solid fuel burning fireplace or wood stove
    • Installing, altering or repairing an on-site sewage disposal system (septic system)
    • Installing wall mounted signs, pylon signs or billboards
    • Changing the use of a building
    • Demolishing a building





      • When is a building permit NOT required?

        To confirm that a Building Permit is not required for your specific project, always call your local municipality and the Dufferin County Building Services Division before starting any construction project.

        The following is a list of work that does not require a building permit as they are deemed not to be an erection, installation, extension, material alteration or repair of a building, as referenced in the Building Code Act definition of Construct:


        • Detached structures not greater than 10 meters squared (108 square feet), that do not contain plumbing.
        • A shed that is not more than 15m2.
          • one storey
        • Landscaping, except a retaining wall described in Division A, of the Building Code.
        • Installation of fences.
        • Installation of trellis/pergola/shade roof structures that are at least 50% open and not able to carry snow load.
        • Installation of prefabricated aboveground pool decks with integrated pool structure.
        • Installation of temporary season structures that;
          • Do not have a solid roof surface,
          • Do not exceed 60m2 in building area, and
          • Are in place for a period not exceeding six months in any 12 month period. (e.g. shelters, hoop-type structures, and vehicle enclosures which are typically covered in fabric, polyethylene or similar materials).

        Note: Removal of covering material will be considered removal of structure.  These types of structures, if permanent (in place for more than six months in any 12 month period) require a building permit if greater than 10m2.

        • Installation of bleachers that;
          • Exceed 10m2 in building area where the level of the highest footboard does not exceed 600mm above grade in all locations, or
          • Do not exceed 10m2 in building area, regardless of the height above grade
        • The following heating, ventilation, or air conditioning (HVAC) work;
          • Installation of air condition units or heat pumps added to existing forced-air systems.
          • Replacement of existing forced-air furnace or roof top HVAC unit with no ductwork alterations and having the same fuel source.
        • The following plumbing work;
          • Repair of storm sewers and sanitary sewers and on all properties, including relining of these sewers using trenchless technology.
          • Replacement of existing plumbing fixtures and faucets.
          • Replacement of existing hot water heaters and boilers.
          • Installation or replacement of water softeners.
          • Repair of interior storm drains and sanitary drains, including relining of these drains.
        • Dampproofing and/or installation of weeping tiles for existing basements.
        • Installation of power door operators that were not required at the time of construction of the building.
        • Electrical work not involving emergency lighting, exit signage, a fire alarm system, or magnetic locks.
        • Replace existing exit signage with no change to existing power supply.

        Note: Permit required when the power supply is changing (e.g. converting from electric to photo luminescent, or vice versa).

        • Replacement of roof shingles.
        • Installation of eavestrough, soffit and fascia.
        • Minor repairs to masonry.
        • Replacement of kitchen or bathroom cupboards.
        • Installation or replacement of grab bars.
        • Adding insulation to an existing attic space.
        • Replacement of existing flooring.
        • Painting, wall coverings and cosmetic finishes.
        • Free-standing signs less than 1.8m in height.
        • Building signs less than 25kgs in weight.
        • Satellite dishes and solar collectors that;
          • Are not mounted on a building, or
          • If mounted on a building, have a total aggregate face area of less than 5m2.
        • Installation of play structures and tree houses.
        • ​​​​​​​Installation of trailers and storage containers that are;
          • Mobile homes and park model trailers less than 10m2 in building area and not contain plumbing.
          • trailers less than 10m2 in building area where the general public is invited to enter (e.g. offices, washrooms).
          • trailers installed on a construction site that are not accessible to the general public.
          • prefabricated storage/cargo containers that have not been structurally modified with no foundation, power, plumbing or HVAC used for the storage of goods that are not accessible to the general public.
          • trailers used for a midway, carnival or similar activity that are used for a maximum of 30 days per year.
          • recreational travel trailers constructed to CSA standards and trailers regulated by another agency in respect to occupant safety (including TSSA).
        • Replacement of existing windows or doors that are not fire rated and where there are no structural alterations within a building not more than three storeys in building height.

        Note: if replacement of windows or doors is proposed in a scope of work in which a permit is required, the replacement of windows or doors shall be included in the permit.


        • Installation of decks (not attached to the house) or ramps serving a single dwelling with no roof structure and which are less than 600mm above grade in all locations
        • Replacement of exterior siding on single detached and semi-detached dwellings with non-masonry siding, provided the wall is not less than 600mm from property lines.
        • Repair of storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water services serving a single dwelling.
        • Awnings (including retractable type) on residential properties.

        Note: May need to be determined on case-by-case basis.

      • How long does it take to get a building permit?

        Provided a complete application is submitted, your building permit should be issued in 10 business days. If additional information is required by the plans examiners, the application will be put on hold until all information is submitted.

        Contact your local municipality to inquire about their timeframes for Municipal Approval.

      • Does the County collect Development Charges? How much are they?
        County-Wide Charges

        Residential (per unit)

        Single & Semi-Detached

        Residential (per unit)


        Residential (per unit)


        Non-Residential (per square meter of gross floor area)
        Service Component - Roads & Bridges $1,022.00 $817.00 $463.00 $5.50
        Service Component - Other $2,972.00 $2,377.00 $1,347.00 $3.95
        County-Wide Total $3,994.00 $3,194.00 $1,810.00 $9.45

        The County also collects $2032.00 per unit in development charges on behalf of the Upper Grand District School Board.

      • How do I get information on my septic system?

        If you require information on the septic system installed on a property that you own, you can obtain that information by calling Building Services at 519.941.2816 ext 2700. A team member will ask you questions about the property to verify your identity prior to completing a search.

      • How do I get a copy of the building plans for my property?

        Please contact Building Services at 519.941.2816 ext 2700 to obtain building plans for your property. The search time and reproduction may be subject to a fee – our team members are happy to answer any questions you have and will guide you through the process.

      • How do I obtain well records?

        Please contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks at 1.888.396.9355 for access to well records.

      • How do I apply for a compliance letter to get information on a property that I do not own?

        Requests for information on a property that you do not own must be submitted in writing and accompanied by the appropriate fee. A request for a building search is $100.00. A request for a septic search is $100.00. Building Services has up to 5 business days to respond

      • How do I get an electrical permit or book an electrical inspection?

        To apply for an electrical permit or to schedule an inspection, please contact the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) at 1.877.372.7233.

      • How do I locate the utilities on my property?

        Prior to digging, reach out to Ontario One Call at 1.800.400.2255 or

      • How much are my permit fees?

        Building permit fees are calculated during the review process. If you have questions about the fee structure prior to applying, you can view our full fee schedule here or you can give us a call at 519.941.2816 x 2700.

      • When am I required to hire a designer?

        The Ontario Building Code Act requires all information submitted as part of a building permit application be completed by a registered designer having qualifications in the area of design.  Some exemptions are permitted in Subsections 3.2.4. and 3.2.5. in Division C of the Ontario Building Code.

        An example of an exemption to hire a designer is if a homeowner is competent in the requirements of the Ontario Building Code and is designing for themselves ie. House addition, septic system (must also be constructed by the homeowner), a deck or a detached garage that serves the house. 

      • What credentials should my designer have?

        A registered designer will have a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN) in the area they are providing design activities for. An Architect or Engineer may not have a BCIN but are able to provide design activities as permitted through the Ontario Architects Association or the Professional Engineers of Ontario. Search the public registry below for a BCIN designer:

      • What if I do not construct in accordance with my County approved drawings?

        If on site construction is not in conformance with the approved County drawings, a Notice of Change is required to be submitted to the Dufferin County Building Services for review and approval including an additional fee.

      • Do I need to have my County approved drawings on site during an inspection?

        Yes. If the County approved drawings are not on site when the inspector arrives, the inspection will not be completed and will need to be rescheduled with the office.