Guide to Building Permits

Why building permits are required

Building permits allow your municipality to protect the interests of both individuals and the community as a whole. By reviewing and approving building plans before any work is done, the municipality can ensure that buildings comply with:

  • the Building Code, which sets standards for the design and construction of buildings to meet objectives such as health, safety, fire protection, accessibility and resource conservation;
  • the local zoning by-law and other planning controls on buildings;
  • other applicable legislation, including conservation authority approvals and certain requirements under the Environment Protection Act.

When building permits are required

You must obtain a building permit before you erect, install, extend, alter, repair or change the use of a building. We also issue permits for the installation, alteration, extension or repair of on-site sewage systems.

The definition of “building” under the building code act is as follows:

  1. A structure occupying an area greater than ten square metres consisting of a wall, roof and floor or any of them or a structural system serving the function thereof including all plumbing, works, fixtures and service systems appurtenant thereto.
  2. A structure occupying an area of ten square metres or less that contains plumbing, including the plumbing appurtenant thereto.
  3. Plumbing not located in the structure.
  4. A sewage system.
  5. Structures designated in the building code.

In general, a building permit is required to erect, install, extend, alter or repair a building.

If you are unsure if a building permit is required please ask the staff at the building department. Note: The fine for building without a permit is double the permit fee.

Examples of projects that require a building permit

The following are examples of projects which will require building permits, but are not limited to:

  • Installing or repairing all or part of a septic system.
  • Construction of a new home or cottage.
  • Addition of a carport, garage, porch or room(s) to an existing home.
  • Construction or finishing of rooms in the basement or attic.
  • Any structural work including alterations to interior partitions or the installation of new skylights, windows or doors.
  • Addition of dormer(s).
  • Enclosing a porch or deck.
  • Adding or replacing of a deck to an existing home.
  • Raising a building.
  • Excavating a crawl space to provide a full basement.
  • Relocating structures from one property to another or relocating a structure on the same property.
  • Construction or installing an accessory building or structure (not for human habitation) such as a garage, tool shed, fixed dock, etc. larger than 10 square metres (107 square feet).
  • A structure less than 10 square metres attached to another structure with the total greater than 10 square meters.
  • A structure less than 10 square metres used for human habitation such as a bunkie or guest cabin.
  • The installation of solid fuel burning appliances and chimneys, etc.
  • Installing any type of plumbing.
  • Demolishing a structure or portion of a structure.
  • Damp-proofing and drainage of foundations.

Accessory buildings not for human habitation that are less than 10 square metres do not require a building permit, however, they must be in compliance with the Zoning By-law. Contact the building department to verify compliance requirements for accessory buildings and structures.

Planning your project and applicable laws

During the preliminary planning (feasibility) stage of your project it is imperative that you determine what Zoning By-laws apply to your property. Zoning By-laws regulate the use, size, location and types of buildings permitted on a parcel of land.

View Zoning By-law and Official Plan

Feasibility criteria

The information you will need to get from the Zoning By-law will include:

  • Is the proposed use permitted?
  • What are the minimum building setbacks (distance from the buildings to the property lines)?
  • What are the building height restrictions?
  • What is the total building floor area and lot coverage permitted and/or required?

Planning relief

Planning relief is required when your proposed construction cannot be completed within the provisions of our Zoning By-law. Should you require planning relief, you can have a pre-consultation with the Municipal Junior Planner by calling and booking an appointment.

Other laws

There may be other applicable laws that must be met prior to making application for a building permit.

Some examples may include, but are not limited to:

  • Crowe Valley Conservation Authority
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Transport Canada

How to apply for a building permit

Building permit applications are made using our Cloudpermit electronic permitting service.

Get started with Cloudpermit

Learn more about getting started with the Cloudpermit building permit system and set up your free account.

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Supporting documentation required

You will need to gather all supporting documentation before submitting your completed application. This includes:

  • Digital copy of construction drawings along with Schedule One – Designer Sheet (included in application package). Plans should be prepared by a qualified designer or engineer. All drawings must be clear, legible, accurate and drawn to scale.
  • Truss drawings – shop drawings will suffice for your application. However the engineered truss drawings will be required before your framing inspection.
  • Engineer specifications for all engineered components such as concrete slabs, LVL beams, etc.
  • Complete, accurate and legible site plan. (There may be times where a survey will be required.)
  • Permits from other governing bodies as required, such as the Crowe Valley Conservation Authority, MNRF, Haliburton County, etc.
  • Letter of Agent if submitting on behalf of property owner.
  • Building Permit Application fee. The payment request will be generated by Cloudpermit once the application has been received and determined to be complete. Permit review will not proceed until the fee is paid.

Additional information

When applying for a permit for a new dwelling or cottage, an addition to, or renovation of, a dwelling or cottage you will also need to provide:

  • Septic Permit Application or a Review of Existing Septic System.
  • Septic Permit fees are due with application submission or before an inspector does a test hole inspection for permit issuance.
  • If building on vacant land you will need and Entrance Permit and 911 number.
  • Energy Efficiency Design Summary (included in application package).

What to expect once your application has been submitted

You will receive a notification from Cloudpermit that your application has been received. You will receive another notification from Cloudpermit once your application is in the review phase.

Most permits issued within 10 business days

Staff at the building department will review your application to confirm that the proposed work complies with the Building Code and other applicable laws and is complete. The building department will process the application and issue the building permit within 10 business days from when the application is deemed complete (including payment of the application fee) for dwellings and accessory structures.

Before the permit is issued, you will receive another notification from Cloudpermit advising you of permit fees owing.

Possible delays

Certain situations can result in a delay of your building permit being issued.

  • If you require relief from the Planning Act, a building permit cannot be issued until the appeal date has expired and no objections have been documented.
  • If your property is covered by a site plan control by-law, a building permit cannot be issued until approval from the principal authority is obtained.
  • If you are required to purchase the shore road allowance, a building permit cannot be issued until the ownership of the shore road allowance is transferred to your name.

Permit application fees

A building permit application fee of $75.00 is due when submitting your application to the building department, or when you receive notification from Cloudpermit.

Your final permit fees are based on your construction and are calculated during the review of your application.

Payments can be made a variety of ways including debit, credit card online via Plastiq, cash, e-transfer or cheque payable to the Municipality of Highlands East.

These fees must be paid before the permit is issued.

Learn more about making payments online.

Permit issuance

Once all approvals are in place and your fees have been paid, the permit will be issued through Cloudpermit.

Once issued, all documents will be available in your Cloudpermit account.

Permit holder responsibilities

You must read and understand all permit documents before starting construction. If you are unsure about something please ask our staff.

Deviation from plans require permit revision

The construction must be in compliance with the plans and documents issued with your permit. Any deviation from the approved drawings must be reported to the Chief Building Official in the form of a revision to the permit. All revisions must be dated, signed and the section of revisions clouded. The revised drawings may be uploaded through your Cloudpermit account. Revisions may be subject to additional fees.

Posting your permit

You are required to post your permit at the entrance to your property during construction. This allows our building officials to find you for inspection and also lets others know you are building with the benefit of a permit.

On site documents

The approved permit drawings must be printed at full size and maintained on site at all times along with all pertinent documentation relating to the permit and construction. These are required for contractors as well as building officials to use as reference for your project.

Required inspections

Our building inspectors serve you by ensuring that the construction complies with the Ontario Building Code, Zoning By-laws and the approved plans.

Inspections are mandatory

It is mandatory for you to call for all inspections. Inspections are booked through your Cloudpermit account.

Get started with Cloudpermit

Learn more about getting started with the Cloudpermit building permit system and set up your free account.

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Mandatory inspections and days assigned for bookings are included with your building permit documents. A minimum of 48 hours notice is required.

You must quote the building permit number when booking an inspection or making any other inquiries.

Owner responsible for inspections

If you have hired contractors to complete your project, it is always the owner’s responsibility to ensure that all required inspections have been completed and a final inspection approved.

It is in your best interest to have these inspections carried out and any deficiencies identified by the inspectors prior to the contractor’s completion of the project.

Do not let construction outpace inspections

If an inspection has not been done and the area has been covered, the inspector may ask you to uncover the affected area(s) so that the inspection can take place.

Completion delays

If your building file is still open after two (2) years (all required inspections have not be completed) there will be an annual maintenance fee applied to the permit and a fee for each inspection conducted thereafter.

This only applies to new dwellings. Accessory structures are to be completed within one year.


Important: No building can be occupied or used until an occupancy permit has been issued.

An occupancy permit confirms the new construction and/or renovation complies with the Ontario Building Code. The permit is based on the inspections that are taken through the key stages of the construction. This permit does not certify or warrant the work or the workmanship of a builder, only general conformance with the Ontario Building Code.

Other permits and approvals

If you have any questions or concerns regarding permit requirements, please contact the building department. Our staff are available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday and will assist you at any point during your construction process.

Demolition Permits

If you propose to demolish any structures occupying an area greater than ten (10) square metres (107 square feet) or part of a structure, you will require a Demolition Permit. An application must be filed with the building department along with a fee of $175.00. If you are demolishing a building/structure greater than ten (10) square metres you will need to complete a 357 application (application to the council or the assessment review board) which will reduce your tax base accordingly.

Change of Use Permit

If you want to change the way you use all or part of a building, you may require a change of use permit even if you are not planning any construction. Different uses have different Building Code requirements.

Septic System Permits

Applications for new septic system installations, replacements and repairs of all septic systems are submitted to and approved by the building department.

Application and submission information

It is recommended that you contract a licensed installer to help you with the application process as it can be somewhat complicated.

All sewage system permits are to be submitted through your Cloudpermit account.

Applicable fees are to accompany applications, or be received prior to a test hole inspection, which is required for permit issuance.

A sewage permit application must be submitted at the same time as an application for a new dwelling. An application for a review of sewage disposal system must be submitted for any renovations, building additions or additional buildings.

Guest cabins (bunkies) are considered an extra bedroom and will require a review of the current septic system.

Plumbing Permits

A plumbing permit is required for the installation, alteration or repair of drains, water lines and plumbing fixtures. However, if your project involves construction that requires a building permit, the plumbing approval will be incorporated within that permit. If you are hiring a contractor, ensure that the plumber is licensed.

Electrical Permits

Prior to the installation or alteration of electrical equipment you are required to ensure an electrical permit is obtained from the Electrical Safety Authority. A copy of the electrical certificate must be submitted to the building department before receiving an occupancy permit.

Entrance Permits

An entrance permit will be required for any new or revised entrances to a municipal road, county road or provincial highway.

Please visit our Entrance Permits page if you require one for a municipal road. Please contact the County of Haliburton or the Ministry of Transportation for county and provincial roads respectively.

Make sure you are covered

Owners and contractors are responsible for certain coverages when building. Please familiarize yourself with the following and how they may apply to you and your project.


Formerly known as the Ontario New Home Warranty Program, Tarion was created by the Government of Ontario in 1976 to administer the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. Its primary purpose is to protect consumers of new homes by ensuring that builders abide the applicable provincial legislation.

Visit for more information. Section F of our permit application asks about Tarion Home Warranty Program.

Home insurance

Check with your home insurance company to ensure you have the correct coverage during construction and that your coverage will be accurate once your project is completed.

Liability Insurance and WSIB

Be sure your contractor is insured and has WSIB coverage.

Ministry of Labour

Constructors (including property owners) are also responsible to the Ministry of Labour to post a Notice of Project on any construction project with a value greater than $50,000.00. For more information visit