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.

        Permits are generally NOT required for:

        • Detached structures not greater than 10 meters squared (108 square feet) that do not contain plumbing
        • Air conditioning units added to existing forced-air systems
        • Replacing existing furnaces
        • Replacing roof shingles or eave troughs
        • Replacing doors or windows (provided there are no changes in size)
        • Replacing siding (provided there are no structural changes)
        • Fences (other than for swimming pools in which case a pool fence permit is required)
        • Replacing kitchen or bathroom cupboards (provided there are no plumbing alterations)
        • Damp proofing basements
        • Floor or ceiling finishes
        • Retaining walls not greater than 1m in height
        • Landscaping
        • Painting, decorating or general maintenance.
      • Why do I need approval from my municipality prior to applying for a building permit at the County?

        Each local municipality served by Dufferin County Building Services maintains their own Zoning By-Laws and Official Plans.  Before starting any construction project you must contact the Planning Department of your local municipality to ensure that your project complies with your municipality’s zoning and permitted uses.  These include (but are not limited to) building side yards and setbacks, height restrictions, lot coverage, etc.

        The Municipal Approval includes:

        • Property Information – Roll number, address, legal description
        • Owner/Applicant Information – Name, address
        • Type of Structure
        • Zoning of Property
        • If Site Plan Approval is Required
        • If Niagara Escarpment Commission or Conservation Authority Approval is Required
        • Entrance Requirements
        • If Development Charges are Applicable and Paid
        • Any other concerns, restrictions or requirements
      • What is a Municipal Approval?

        The first step in the Building Permit Application process is to visit the Planning Department of your local municipality to discuss the details of your proposed building project.  Once the project has been approved, you will be provided with a written Municipal Approval

        The Municipal Approval provides detailed information about your project to ensure that you are complying with all of the zoning requirements and/or restrictions set out by the Municipality.

        Once you have received municipal approval from your local Town/Township, bring your complete application package to the Dufferin County Building Services desk.

      • What is the process for obtaining a building permit?

        Once the property owner or their authorized agent has assembled a complete Building Permit Application Package, including Municipal Approval from the local Town/Township, they are ready to submit it to the Dufferin County Building Services at 55 Zina Street, Orangeville, ON L9W 3X4.

        A deposit will be required at the time of submission.  This deposit is a partial payment of the permit fee, and will be deducted from the total cost of the permit once it has been reviewed and issued by the Building Department.

        These deposits are as follows:

        • New Dwellings---------------------------- $500
        • Additions and Renovations---------- $150
        • Deck, Sheds and Garages------------ $150

        The following fees are full permit fees that are collected at the time of application:

        • New Septic System---------------------- $540
        • Replace Entire Septic System------- $540
        • Replace Septic Tank Only------------ $225
        • Alter or Replace Septic Tile Bed Only $390

        The balance of the Building Permit fees, and any applicable Development Charges will be due at the time of issuance of the permit.

        Review Process

        The time required to review the Building Permit Application Package, and issue the Building Permit depends on the use of the building.  Most residential Building Permits are issued within 10 business days of receiving all of the correct documentation.

        During the 10 business days, the permit will be reviewed by the Plans Examiner.  Provided the Application Package is complete and there are no issues regarding the Ontario Building Code or other applicable law, the Building Permit will then be issued.

        However, if there are any missing, incomplete or incorrect documents, or items that are not in compliance with the Ontario Building Code or other applicable law, the Plans Examiner will provide written notification to the owner and/or their authorized agent.  This notification will include a detailed list of all the outstanding items, and place the Permit Application on “Hold”.

        Once an Application is put on hold, the time required to issue the Building Permit will depend on how quickly all of the additional or revised information is submitted to the Building Department and then re-reviewed by the Plans Examiner.  The “10 business days” timeline will no longer apply.

        The Building Department will contact the owner or their agent once the Building Permit has been approved, processed and is ready to be picked up.  The owner or agent will have to visit the Building Department to sign the Building Permit and associated documents, and pay any and all outstanding fees.  A list of the mandatory inspections required for the project will be provided at that time.

      • 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?

        The County development charges are as follows:

        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 $848.00 $678.00 $385.00 $4.57
        Service Component - Other $2,465.00 $1,972.00 $1,118.00 $3.28
        County-Wide Total $3,313.00 $2,650.00 $1,503.00 $7.85


        The County also collects $832.00 per unit in development charges on behalf of the Upper Grand District School Board.

        *Effective May 20th, 2019 the Education Development Charges (EDCs) will increase to $1,132.00 per unit. 

        The Education Development Charges for the Upper Grand District School Board are currently under review and are expected to be in place by August 2019. As part of the review process, the Board will be holding several meetings to inform and collect input from stakeholders, and the public at large.

        Please click here for additional information including date, time and location of public information meetings.

      • 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.

        If the request is urgent, a search can be performed within 2 business days for a rush fee of $200.00 per search.

      • 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.