Whether you’re a contractor or a citizen looking for support in obtaining a building permit, we’re here to help!
While many questions can be answered with the help of the guides, sample letters and forms in our legal toolkit, an independent jurist affiliated with PSP Legal will always be happy to help you by answering any questions you may have.
Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner take charge of your situation and intervene directly and quickly on your behalf, you can also request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal represent you by clicking here.
What is a building permit and why is it necessary?
Click here for information on applying for a permit
By definition, a permit is an authorization as well as a physical document granted to a person by a competent authority to perform an act or exercise an activity. The purpose of building permits is to ensure that renovation or construction projects meet the minimum standards set out in Quebec’s Building Act. In the field of construction, the application for a permit is a means of control used by the municipality to ensure compliance with its urban planning by-laws (i.e. zoning, building or subdivision), as well as to verify and control land development within the municipality.
A building permit is therefore required for anyone wishing to undertake renovations or construction on a lot. Applications must meet the conditions set out in municipal bylaws. If they do, a building permit will be issued to the applicant by the municipality in the days following submission of the permit application.
Once obtained, the physical permit must be clearly posted on the construction site. The purpose of this posting is to help municipal inspectors verify that the work is being carried out in accordance with the plans provided by the permit applicant. The information gathered when you apply for a building permit will be forwarded to the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, the Commission de la construction du Québec and even Revenu Québec, who will be informed of the work carried out by the applicant, in order to ensure compliance with the work package, tax fairness and consumer protection.
Permits are required for many renovations. For example, a permit is required for ;
- Replacing a stoop, deck or balcony;
- Installing an in-ground pool;
- Changing or enlarging an exterior door or window;
- Work on load-bearing walls (accepted if you have proof of feasibility from an engineer or architect);
- Modification of partitions or divisions inside the house (plans and photos are required for all work involving the structure);
They are not required in cases such as :
- Repair or maintenance of a balcony or porch;
- Repair or maintenance of staircases;
- Painting work;
- Installing a fence;
- Construction of a terrace (if not on the front of the house and depending on its size);
- Installation of an above-ground pool;
- Construction of a shed or hangar (this may vary from municipality to municipality);
- Replacement of gypsum or plaster ceiling or wall coverings;
- Changing kitchen and bathroom doors and cabinets;
- Changing interior doors in a dwelling (unless it opens onto a common living area);
- Replacing a sink (if the plumbing is not modified);
- Repair of an asphalt shingle roof (if the height and structure are not modified);
- Repair of exterior siding on a residential building;
Failure to hold a permit and non-conforming work
Failure to hold a permit or certificate is punishable by a fine of $350 to $4,000, or forced cessation of work. The fine is imposed following a notice of infraction and refusal to correct the situation within the time limit specified in the notice. Additional charges may also be added to the cost of the permit if you apply after the work has been completed, and legal action may even be taken in the event of non-compliance with construction or urban planning standards. In the case of non-conforming work (prohibited materials or non-compliance with urban planning), an additional fine may be added to your statement of offence. In the worst case, the court may order the destruction of the work.
Municipal rights and obligations
The Act respecting land use planning and development empowers municipalities to issue building permits.
In particular, a municipality may :
- prohibit any proposed cadastral operation, construction, enlargement, conversion or addition of buildings without a permit. It may also prohibit occupancy of an immovable without a certificate of occupancy;
- adopt a by-law on the issuance of urban planning permits and certificates;
- require the submission of a site plan, cadastral plan and plans and specifications for the proposed building;
- establish conditions for the issuance of permits and certificates;
- designate the officials responsible for issuing or refusing permits and certificates, and define their powers and duties;
- prevent the alteration of heritage property, provide for archaeological excavations and surveys in a zone of heritage interest identified in the land use and development plan in effect on its territory.
In return, municipalities are required to inform the Régie du bâtiment of all building permit applications, whether for new construction, conversion, extension or addition to a building. This by-law stems from the Act respecting land use planning and development. The information requested is intended to provide a rapid inventory of building construction or renovation sites, whether residential, commercial, industrial or institutional. Municipalities must submit the relevant information to the Régie within five days of the permit application.
Municipalities may not issue a building permit on a lot in an agricultural zone unless authorized by the Commission de protection du territoire agricole du Québec (CPTAQ), unless the CPTAQ has issued a notice of compliance with the Act respecting the preservation of agricultural land and agricultural activities (LPTAA), or unless the three-month period provided for in section 100.1 of this Act has expired.
How we can help
Our legal toolkit includes a variety of online resources and links to templates and guides to help you better understand your obligations.
However, should the Legal Toolkit prove insufficient in your situation, you can obtain additional assistance by speaking with one of PSP Legal’s affiliated jurists:
Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner handle your situation, you can always request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal intervene on your behalf by clicking here. He or she will then be able to intervene directly and rapidly on your behalf by:
- Preparing, negotiating and drafting applications, procedures or any other legal documents related to your situation;
- Assisting and advising you on your legal rights and obligations;
- Representing you before the courts when legal action is taken;
- Guiding you through the choices available to you, leading to a fair and satisfactory solution.
PSP Legal, because you deserve expert advice!
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