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Building & Renovating


Building Permits – What Are They?

Before starting to build or renovate any type of building, the City of Kenora Building Division should be consulted regarding required permits.

A Building Permit is your formal permission to begin construction or demolition. It means that the Municipality has approved your plans for any new structure, addition or renovation. Approved plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local zoning by-laws, and other applicable laws and regulations.

Building Permits regulate types of construction allowed in the community and ensure that minimum building standards are met. The Building Permit process protects each homeowner’s interests, as well as those of the community at large, and provides for the erection and renovation of safe structures.

Permits help ensure that any structural change is safe, legal and sound. It is unlawful to start construction or demolition before you receive and post your Permit in a conspicuous place. An authorized agent may get Permits on your behalf, but remember, it is the owner who is ultimately responsible for complying with all Permit requirements.

You NEED a City of Kenora Building Permit if you plan to:

• Construct any new building exceeding 107.64 square feet (10 meters square) in floor area
• Docks, boathouses/ports and shoreline structures exceeding 107.64 square feet (10 meters square) in floor area
• Renovate, repair or add to any building regardless of size of any addition
• Demolish or remove all or a portion of a building, other than a farm building on a registered farm
• Change a building’s use (i.e., change from residential to a retail, office, industrial or farm use or vice versa)
• Install, change or remove partitions walls and load-bearing walls, add insulation and drywall, stairways, etc.
• Make new openings for, or increase the size of, or replace doors and windows – some exceptions may apply
• Build a garage, carport, balcony, deck or sunroom/gazebo.
• Excavate a basement, install drain tile, construct a foundation or raise a building.
• Install or modify heating ductwork or piping, plumbing piping, air conditioning systems or fireplaces.
• Install or reconstruct a chimney.
• Change or renew siding or stucco or add exterior insulation.

You do NOT need a City of Kenora Building Permit to:

• Replace doors and windows of the same-size in existing frames – changing frames needs a permit
• Build a roofless deck under 2 feet (0.61 meters) in height
• Replace shingles of roofs of R1 and R2 zoned buildings
• Replace hot water heaters, oil or gas fired appliances
• Building a utility shed not exceeding 107 square feet (10 meters square) subject to zoning distance from property lines
• Install eaves troughs, provided that drainage is contained on your own property and not directed to neighbour
• Install kitchen or bathroom cupboards without any alterations to plumbing
• Paint, decorate, lay new flooring or floor covering

What You Need to Know about Building Permits

What happens if you do not get a permit?

If you start construction but do not have the necessary permits, you may be ordered to stop work; you could be prosecuted, and even ordered to remove work already done. Contact the building department if you are not sure whether you need a permit for your project. A required septic disposal permit must be issued prior to obtaining a building permit.

Building inspections, when and why?

Building inspectors review projects during key stages of construction to ensure compliance with the Building Code and the approved plans. Inspections are mandatory to be requested, depending on the project. Inspectors must be able to see the part of the work subject to inspection. Inspectors require a minimum of 48 hours notice to book an inspection.

It is the responsibility of the developer/constructor to contact the City of Kenora Building Division to request a required inspection.   To schedule a building inspection, please contact Jeremy Smith at 807-467-2020 or

How do I apply for a building permit?

The applicant must file an application in writing on prescribed Ministry, (MMAH), forms. Every application must be signed by the applicant. The applicant may be the owner of a building or property or a person authorized in writing by the owner to apply for a permit on the owner’s behalf. Every application must be accompanied by prescribed plans and specifications and the applicable permit fee payable to the City of Kenora.

How long does it take to obtain a building permit?

The time required for the processing of a building permit application is prescribed in the Ontario Building Code:
• Houses and small buildings with no dwelling above another: 10 working days;
• Most buildings of up to 3 storeys and less than 6,460 square feet: 15 working days;
• Most Complex buildings of over 3 storeys or over 6,460 square feet: 20 working days;
• Post Disaster buildings such as fire halls, police and ambulance stations: 30 working days
The above time limits may not apply if any prescribed information is missing.

What types of plans are required to get a permit?

Permit plans must contain sufficient information to determine whether the proposed work conforms to all applicable regulations. A site plan must be referenced to a current plan of survey certified by a registered Ontario Land Surveyor must be submitted with the building permit application for any major project. For minor additions and alterations, site plans showing outlines and dimensions of the property, driveways, existing and proposed buildings may be accepted. Where required by the Building Code, plans must be prepared, sealed and signed by an Architect, Professional Engineer, or both. In all cases, where not prepared by the owner, the designer must provide a Building Code Information Number, (BCIN), issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, or a BCDN issued by the Ontario Association of Architects. Permit applications will not be accepted when the submitted plans are inadequate. The regulations are in metric, and where imperial measurements are used in your plans you are cautioned that the metric prevails.  For the installation of any wood-burning appliance, a detailed installation plan and the manufacturers installation instructions must be submitted.

Other details or plans maybe required, such as:

  • site plan
  • cross section(s)
  • elevation views
  • structural framing details
  • foundation plan
  • floor plans
  • roof plan for complex designs
  • energy efficiency design summary
  • mechanical
  • electrical
  • structural
  • fire systems
  • drainage and grading plan

Who will review permit plans?

Permit plans will be reviewed by Building Inspection staff for compliance with the Zoning By-law, Ontario Building Code and other related standards and by-laws.

Who will obtain the approvals from other agencies?

It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure required approvals from other agencies (where applicable), prior to the issuance of a building permit. (e.g. Health Unit Approval for septic systems, or Electrical Safety Authority for electrical permits.) In most cases the other approvals must be in effect prior to a building permit being issued.

What are the fees required when applying for a building permit?

The fee for the building permit will depend on the project. The permit fees are calculated in accordance with the Permit Fees By-law as amended (Schedule A, By-law 100-2005).

Where to apply for a permit?

Application forms are available at 60 Fourteenth Street North, 2nd Floor, or in Forms.

Applications can be sent or delivered to:
City of Kenora Operations Center
Attention: Building Division
60 Fourteenth Street North, 2nd Floor
Kenora, Ontario
P9N 4M9
Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday excluding Statutory and Civic holidays.

Building Permit Application and Fees

Available at:

  • City Hall , 1 Main Street South
  • Operations Building, 60 Fourteenth Street North, 2nd Floor
  • or online in Forms

For further building information, contact:

Jeremy Smith – Deputy Building Official/Inspector

Kevin Robertson – Chief Building Official

For Zoning By-law information, for example for yards, heights, area and permitted use requirements, contact:

City of Kenora Planning Division