When do I need a building permit?

Building Code Compliance:

The most important concept in constructing safe buildings is the understanding that Code Compliance is a shared responsibility.

The National Building Code is a set of MINIMUM design and construction standards.  If you can’t comply with the minimum standards, what standards are you meeting?

Building Permit Misconception:

“We aren’t doing any structural changes, so we don’t need a building permit”…

This is a very common misconception heard all the time.  Structural adequacy is one of many objectives of the code.  Life Safety, Fire protection, Health, Barrier-free Accessibility, and Energy Efficiency are the others, and they all need to be considered and reviewed when the use of a building changes.


Basement Development:
Typically, there are no structural impacts when converting an unfinished basement into rooms and spaces.  Permits are required to regulate the installation of insulating and air-vapour barriers in the exterior assembly, ensuring smoke alarms are installed to meet code, bedroom windows meet egress requirements, bathrooms have exhaust, handrails and guards are installed as needed…etc.

Change of Use or Occupancy:
A storage warehouse is being converted to a library.  Reno includes flooring, paint, and millwork only.  But the occupancy changed from an industrial to an assembly type occupancy.  The occupant load likely went from less than 10 to now what could be 100 or more.  Has the new occupant load been considered?  Are there enough exits for the new occupant load, enough bathrooms?  Does the building now require a fire alarm system?  Is the building going to be barrier-free and serve the needs of people with disabilities?



Seed Cleaning Plants, Grain Loading Terminals, Fertilizer Storage Buildings, Power Plants, Mines, Welding Shops, Mechanic/Tire Shops, Auto Body Shops, Commercial Interior development, etc. 


Residential accessory buildings 10m2 (107ft2) or less are exempt from requiring building permits. Zoning setback requirements must still be adhered to.

Farm Buildings that are specifically used for primary Farming Operations do not require a building permit unless the local government has passed a Building Bylaw requiring such. This exemption does not apply to buildings constructed in RM’s or on farm’s that include sleeping accommodations or are used to earn off Farm Income including Seed Cleaning Plants, Grain Loading Terminals, Fertilizer Storage Buildings, mechanic/welding shops, etc.

On January 1, 2024 the Government of Saskatchewan made a change to regulation that requires building permits and inspections on all houses and buildings with sleeping accommodations. There are no longer exemption for these buildings on farm sites.


 A project that does not require a building permit does not necessarily mean it does not require a ‘Development Permit’.  In many cases a development permit will be required.  Example:  An accessory building less than 10m2 needs to be regulated under a zoning bylaw as the municipality still needs to regulate things like number of structures on a property, how much yard is covered by buildings, location on the property, etc.