What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is a municipal document from the City of Sarnia that provides legal authorization to begin construction of a building project.

Why is a Building Permit Required?

A building permit is required in order to protect the health, safety and accessibility requirements of the public. An application allows the City of Sarnia staff to review the project design before construction begins to ensure compliance with Building Codes and Zoning By-Law regulations.  After the permit has been issued, a City of Sarnia Building Inspector visits the site to ensure the construction meets the minimum standards of the building codes and by-laws.

After the permit has been issued, request an Inspection here

What Construction Projects Require Building Permits?

Listed are some typical projects and whether or not they require a permit.

  • Constructing a new building
  • Any addition to an existing building
  • A detached building over 110 square feet
  • Decks over two feet from ground level and/or decks fastened to main buildings
  • Finishing previously unfinished spaces in a home such as basement developments, attics, etc.
  • Plumbing, heating or air conditioning systems
  • Foundation structural repairs
  • Swimming pools or any device capable of holding over two feet of water
  • Installing a wood stove or fireplace
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Tents larger than 650 square feet
  • Demolish or remove all or a portion of a building

Projects That Normally DO NOT Need A Permit:

Although a building permit may not be required, it is still necessary for these projects to comply with the Building Code and applicable zoning requirements.

  • Open decks under two feet from ground level not fastened to a main building
  • Replacing stucco, siding, or shingles with the same material
  • Replacing doors and windows with the same size
  • Fences
  • Patching, painting, and decorating
  • Installing cabinets and shelves

What If I Fail To Take Out A Permit?

Work that is done without a permit may not meet the minimum building code requirements and could result in substandard construction that may not be structurally adequate. This could lead to costly repairs in the future to correct the problem or even a complete failure of the construction. Work that cannot be made to comply will require removal. The cost of a permit and variance, “after the fact” will be doubled. Legal action may be initiated to ensure compliance.

Why Permits Protect You, Your Family And Your Neighbours.

If you or a contractor you hired are going to build, add, renovate or alter any part of your residence, or perform work on the electrical, plumbing and/or mechanical system for your residence, ensure that a permit has been obtained prior to starting the work/installation. Permits ensure that the work is in compliance with all codes and safety standards and will be inspected by a City of Sarnia Building Inspector to ensure professional standards are met.

What Information Is Required When Applying For A Building Permit?

  • Two sets of detailed scaled construction drawings
  • Site plans showing: Size and location of all existing and proposed buildings, garages, pools, sheds, et cetera on property
  • All property lines and dimensions
  • Distance between all structures and property lines
  • Drainage Patterns
  • Driveway
  • Letter of authorization from property owner, should applicant not be the owner.

Permanent and Portable Sign Permits

The erection of signs are regulated by Sarnia’s sign bylaw. The purpose of the bylaw is to regulate the location, size, and types of signs that are installed within our city.

The bylaw also addresses aesthetics, lighting and safety, functional and safety issues such as traffic, pedestrian and structural construction. Signs, whether they are small or large, need to be constructed and installed to avoid visibility problems and structural failure due to weather and age.

If in doubt, please contact us by e-mail at building@sarnia.ca or telephone 519-332-0330 extension 3301.