Application Submission

The Community Services Division has modified various processes in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to ensure business continuity. While City Hall remains closed to the public, Building Permit Applications are still being accepted however please note the procedural changes relating to application submission.

All Building Permit Applications should be emailed to We can accept large files via drop box, google docs, we transfer or shared zip files. Please ensure all application submissions include the required applications, agency approvals and signed & sealed drawings as required in PDF format.

If you do not have access to a computer, applications submissions can be dropped off at the City Hall drop box to the right of the Christina Street entrance.

All Building Application forms are available for download below.

*Approved permits and permit documents will be returned electronically to the email indicated on the application in the “Applicant” section. Should anyone else be notified of an approved permit, please ensure that email address is also indicated in the same section.

Building Permit Applications & Additional Forms

Covid-19 Resources for Business Owners/Operators

Resources form the Ontario Government regarding Covid-19 Construction Site Health & Safety can be found here.

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.

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?

  • 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.

Payment for Permits

No payment is due until you receive notification from the Building Department that your permit has been approved.

Once you have received notification from our office, we can accept payment by credit card ($5,000.00 or less) by phone at 519-332-0330 Ext. 3301, or by cheque dropped off at the City Hall drop box to the right of the Christina Street entrance.

Swimming Pools

A permit is required to construct or install a pool or any other structure located outdoors which is capable of containing over 60cm (2’0”) of water. This includes in-ground and above-ground pools, hot tubs, fish ponds, etc. Permits may also be required for associated construction such as decks, change houses, sunrooms, etc.

For further information, please view the Swimming Pool brochure or consult with Community Development Services and Standards Department staff.

Residential Fences

A building permit is not required to construct a new fence. However, the City does have a by-law in place to regulate the height, material and location of the fence.

Although a permit is not required, the construction of a fence must meet the provisions of the City of Sarnia Fence By-law.

For further information, please view the Fence brochure or consult with Planning and Building Department staff

Accessory Buildings (Sheds, Garages, Gazebos, etc.)

Any accessory building over 10 square meters (108 square feet) in size will require a building permit.

The construction of an accessory building, regardless of size, must comply with the Zoning By-law.

For further information, please view the Accessory Building brochure or consult with Community Development Services and Standards Department staff.

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 or telephone 519-332-0330 extension 3301.

Request a Building Inspection

You can request a building inspection here

Zoning By-Law Information

Information related to the zoning by-law can be found here