What is a Building Permit?
A building permit is issued by your local jurisdiction of authority, usually your municipality, and authorizes you (or someone on your behalf) to build or add a structure on your property such as a deck, shed, garage, house addition, swimming pool, or retaining wall to name a few. The property owner is responsible for obtaining the building permit; however, the process of applying for and receiving the permit is often handled by the contractor. The building permit acts as a safeguard to ensure that the proposed construction complies with the applicable Building Code, which in our case is the British Columbia Building Code 2018, as well as any municipal requirements such as property setbacks, zoning requirements, etc. Because I specialize in decks and sheds I will limit this discussion to building permit requirements for those structures.
When is a Building Permit Required?
I will focus on the requirements of the City of Kelowna which are generally consistent with those of the City of West Kelowna and the District of Lake Country. The first place to start is with the City of Kelowna’s Building Bylaw, 1993, No. 7245 which states that, “No building or structure shall be constructed, except in conformity with the requirements of the building code, this bylaw, and all other bylaws of the City.” With that said, it’s always best to assume that a building permit is required until it can be determined that there is an exception that negates the requirement for a permit. I will do my best to outline Kelowna’s building permit requirements in relation to decks and sheds; however, it is ALWAYS important to consult with the appropriate municipality to determine if there are special considerations that require, or do not require, a building permit.
As I have already stated, it’s best to start with the assumption that a building permit is required when constructing a new deck. There are, however, some exceptions which apply:
1. If the deck is freestanding (in other words, not attached to the house), AND;
2. The surface of the deck is less than 24″ above grade
a building permit is GENERALLY not required.
Having said that, if a hot tub will be located on top of the deck the City will require a building permit which must include structural engineering. If a hot tub is sitting on the ground but surrounded by a deck a building permit will also likely be required. In that case, a railing would likely be required for safety reasons, hence the requirement for a permit.
There are also site coverage requirements which must be met. All of the structures on your property are allowed to cover only a certain percentage of your lot which means that you may be limited in the size of deck you are able to build.
The City of Kelowna Deck Bulletin provides a brief and useful summary of the requirements for constructing a new deck.
Once again, let’s start with the assumption that a building permit will be required for your new shed. The exception to that rule is if the shed is less than 10 square meters (approximately 108 square feet) in size. In that case, a permit will not be required; however, all requirements for setbacks from property lines and height restrictions must be met.
The City of Kelowna Detached Residential Accessory Buildings Bulletin is a helpful resource for information relating to the construction of your new shed.
Building Permit Application Requirements
Two sets of scaled plans which will include:
- A site plan showing all dimensions, lot size and accurate shape showing the size of the proposed deck.
- The exact location of the proposed deck in reference to other structures, property lines, all registered easements, right-of-ways, NO DISTURB zone, NO BUILD zone, existing retaining walls and proposed retaining walls.
- Working drawings shall show all building elevations, foundation/footing plans, a cross-section showing all construction assemblies.
- The material and design of the deck and specifications of guard railings.
- Engineer’s Design and Schedules B, D and proof of insurance, if applicable.
- Current State of Title (within last 30 days), and copies of registered documents (easements, covenants & right-of-ways) may be required.
- Owner’s Authorization Form
- Owner’s Acknowledgement Form
In addition to the above requirements which apply to decks, the following is also required for new shed construction:
- Two Sets of Plans (Site Plan, Floor Plan, Elevations, Roof Design)
- A site plan shall include the lot size and accurate shape showing the location and size of the proposed garage and all existing buildings/improvements on the lot. Easements, right of ways, septic tank and field locations are to be indicated on the site plan. A revised survey certificate showing the size and location of the proposed detached garage, as well as driveway location and slope, would also be accepted.
- Working drawings shall show all building elevations, foundation/floor plans, a cross-section showing all construction assemblies, and a roof truss layout are required at the time of application. These plans are to be drawn to scale. Preferred scale Metric 1:50 or Imperial ¼” = 1.0 ft.
How I Can Help With Your Deck or Shed Building Permit
Once we have finalized a set of plans I would be happy to facilitate the process of obtaining a building permit for your project.
Contact me to discuss your new deck or shed.