Building and Renovating

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To apply for a building permit, complete the Building Permit Application and submit it to the Building Department.

For more information about building permits, fees and other resources, please use the drop-down tabs below.

What is a building permit?

A building permit is a formal approval to construct, add to, move or remove a building or structure on your property.

The Ontario Building Code Act requires that a building permit be obtained for the construction of a new structure, or an addition or alteration of any structure which results in a building area of more than 10 m2 (108 square feet).

Please note that it is illegal to construct or demolish a structure without first obtaining a building permit. Anyone found guilty of building without a permit or has not followed an order issued by a Building Official can be charged under the Ontario Building Code Act.

Building Inspections protect the interests of both the individual and the community as a whole. The Building Department ensures that all construction in the municipality meets the Building Code's minimum standards for fire and structural safety standards. The review by a qualified individual also ensures the plans comply with the regulations of the local municipal zoning by-laws as well as all other applicable laws and regulations.

Please note: If the contractor or designer obtains the building permit on your behalf, it is still the building/property owner who is ultimately responsible for complying with all building requirements.

As of July 1, 2005, building permit applications submitted to municipalities must use the provincially mandated building permit application form. In addition to the "Application for a Permit to Construct or Demolish", there are Schedules for "Designer Information", "Sewage System Installer information", and "Plumbing Information". Assistance with these forms can be obtained from the Building Inspector. As an application can not be considered until it is "complete" there is a check list provided o assist the applicant when completing the documentation.

What should I do before I apply?

It is very important to first inquire at your Municipal Office as to whether or not the construction you are proposing complies with the Municipal Zoning By-law. If it does not, you must then decide if you wish to proceed with the variance or amendment process - estimated time for an application to be processed, including required notice and appeal periods - 8-10 weeks.

Details of this process can be obtained at the Forest Municipal Office. In order for your building permit to be processed in a timely manner, it is important to ensure that all requirements of outside agencies have been met BEFORE you submit your application. These requirements could include a septic tank permit, approval of the Ministry of Transportation, or if your property is within a regulated area, a permit from the Conservation Authority.

These permits must be obtained and submitted with the building permit application.

What other information may be required?

HVAC (Heating, Venting and Air Conditioning) CALCULATION - When building a new house, or if the planned renovations involve updating the heating or air conditioning systems, the homeowner is required to submit an HVAC
calculation completed by a qualified HVAC technician.

PLANS - the Inspector requires 2 sets of building plans (floor plans, elevations and cross sections, roof trusses, and heating as appropriate) for both large projects and smaller projects such as a garage or similar accessory buildings.

SEPTIC TANK INSPECTIONS - For those properties serviced with private septic systems, a septic review will be required if the proposed addition exceeds 15% of the existing area. In addition, a septic review will also be required if a planning approval is necessary prior to proceeding (ie. minor variance, consent, zone amendment). Inspection fee: $ 75.00 (payable to the County of Lambton).

Do I need a permit for my project?

Examples of works that require a building permit:

  • Construct a new building
  • Solar panels installed on buildings
  • Renovate, repair or add to a building
  • Demolish or remove all or a portion of a building
  • Install, change or remove most walls
  • Make new openings for, or change the size of windows and doors
  • Add a skylight
  • Build a garage
  • Build a balcony or deck (over 2 feet off the ground)
  • Excavate a basement or construct a foundation
  • Install or modify heating, plumbing, air conditioning ductwork
  • Reconstruct a chimney, add a wood burning fireplace
  • Duct work

Examples of works that do not require a building permit:

  • Replace existing, same-size doors and windows
  • Install siding on small residential buildings
  • Build a roofless deck less than two feet off the ground
  • Build a utility shed less than 10 m2 (108 square feet)
  • Re-shingle a roof, providing there is no structural work
  • Install eaves trough, providing that drainage is on your own property
  • Replace or increase insulation, dry-wall or plaster
  • Damp-proof basements
  • Paint or decorate
  • Install kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing
  • Erect a fence (fence will need to comply with Municipal regulations)
  • Replace existing forced air furnace (that does not include any ductwork)
  • Minor electrical work

How long does it take to get a building permit?

When an application is submitted, the Building Inspector has 1 0 business days to review the submission. If all the required information is provided, (including the septic tank permit, if applicable) the building permit will be issue within the 10 day review period. If during the review, the application is deemed incomplete, the applicant will be notified as soon as possible of the documentation needed. Once the required documentation is received, the inspector has 1 0 business days to issue the permit.

Providing all required information is submitted with the application, a permit will
be issued in the following times:

  • Septic Tank permit: 10 business days
  • Houses, Townhouses, etc.*: 10 business days
  • Accessories structures serving the above: 10 business days
  • Small Commercial Buildings: 15 business days
  • Farm Buildings - under 600 m2: 15 business days
  • Tents under Section 3-13 of the OBC: 10 business days
  • Signs under 3-14 of the OBC: 10 business days

* Time starts AFTER the septic permit has been issued


  • Large Buildings under Part 3: 20 business days
  • Farm Buildings over 600 m2: 20 business days


Please refer to our Building Fee Schedule.

Additional fees may be required and are listed below.

  • Building Inspection Security Deposit (By-law 46 of 2007) - This fee is required to be paid at the time the building permit is issued. For major construction the deposit is $750.00 and for minor projects, the deposit is $250.00. This bond will be refunded to the property owner once a final inspection has been completed by the Building Inspector.
  • Development Charges (By-law 43 of 2008, as amended) - Development charges are designed to have growth pay for new or improved infrastructure required to service the growth. Fees have been established for urban services - water and wastewater services, plus municipal wide services. A complete copy of the Development Charges By-law and report can be obtained at any one of our three offices. The municipal office can also advise you of the amount applicable to your application.
  • Plumbing permit fees - determined by the number of fixtures being installed as indicated on the drawings submitted.

  • 911 Sign & Post - $33.90 (if required)
  • ¾" Water Meter - $500.00 - *Price for larger sized meters can be obtained from the Community Services Department - 243-1400 or 1-866-943-1400

  • Meter Pit - Price for meter pits can be obtained from the Community Services Department - 243-1400 or 1-866-943-1400

Development charges

Please refer to our Development Charges page.

Locating underground utilities

Homeowners needing to locate underground utilities can call Ontario One Call 1-800-400-2255 or Please note Ontario One Call will locate water, sewers, gas, telephone etc at no charge within 5 business days. Please note, locates are good for 30 days only.

When do I call for inspectors?

During construction, several mandatory inspections are required to ensure that all work is done in compliance with the approved plans and the Ontario Building Code. Inspections do not happen automatically - it is your responsibility to ensure that either you or your contractor contacts the Municipality to arrange for an inspection. The required inspections are listed on the permit, and include ( but are not limited to) footings, foundation pre-backfill, framing, insulation-air and vapour barrier, completion of air barrier system, fire separations, plumbing, HVAC, final interior and exterior.

Please note, the inspector must be able to see the part of the work to be inspected. Failure to have inspections performed may result in having to uncover and expose work for inspection.

Inspections must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.

Additional permits may be required


  • Hydro One (1-888-664-9376)

 Conservation Authority Flood and Fill Regulations:

  • Area: Port Franks, Thedford, Arkona, Grand Bend
    • Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority - 71108 Morrison Line, R.R. #3, Exeter, ON (1-888-286-2610) or email (
  • Area: Forest, Ipperwash
    • St. Clair Region Conservation Authority - 205 Mill Pond Crescent, Strathroy, ON (519-245-3710) or email (


  • If your property is in the vicinity of Highway 21


Foundation Survey - New House A foundation survey is required, and must be submitted prior to final inspection. This is to ensure that the foundation is located in compliance with the zoning requirements.

Site Plans for Additions or Accessory building - A site plan is to be submitted with building permit applications for additions and accessory buildings. The drawing is to drawn to scale, and identify buildings and other features in relation to the property boundaries. Other pertinent information that will need to be provided is the location of any easements or right of ways, and a calculation of the lot coverage. The property owner is also required to sign a form indicating that he/she has been advised of the required yard setbacks and that he/she takes full responsibility for ensuring that the structure adheres to the setbacks.

Grading Certificate - Before the final inspection, a grading compliance letter will need to be submitted if required in the subdivision agreement.

Home Insurance - during renovations, you may want to consider "home renovation" insurance for the duration of the construction as such coverage is often not part of a standard homeowner's policy.

Restrictive Covenants - In addition to municipal requirements, development in certain subdivisions is subject to "restrictive covenants". Restrictive covenants are part of an agreement between the developers and the land purchaser. Property Owners are encouraged to review their deed and/or contact the resident association in the area to determine any additional building requirements.

Asbestos testing - Homeowners should be aware of the potential requirement to have their homes tested for the presence of asbestos dependent upon the vintage of their home. If asbestos is present, it must be removed before construction commences. asbestos.html

DID YOU KNOW that on the Building Permit application form, a toilet is referred to as a "water closet"?? and R.W .L. stands for rain water leader?

Other resources

Other Related Links

For further information, questions, or clarifications, please contact Randy Lovie, Chief Building Official.


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