Building Official & Building Permits

All questions and concerns can be directed to John Burrows at or 807-274-5323 x 1216.

Building Official

The Building Department is responsible for the implementation and administration of regulations relating to construction and the issuance and administration of building permits to ensure compliance to regulations and protection to the residents of Fort Frances.

A Building Permit is a license which grants legal permission to start construction of a building project. Building without a permit is against the law and could result in you and/or your contractor being subject to fines or penalties as set out in the Building Code Act.

Building permits are issued by John Burrows at or 807-274-5323 x 1216.

Why Are Building Permits Needed?

Building permits are necessary to ensure that zoning requirements, fire and structural safety standards are complied with, primarily for safety reasons. It is the responsibility of the owner or builder to ensure that a building permit is obtained, unless after consultation with the municipal officials it is determined that a permit is not required.

How Do I Know If I Need A Building Permit?

Under the Building Code Act, a building permit is generally not required for the construction of any structure under 10 sq. m. (108 sq. ft.) in area. You should also be aware that an accessory structures (storage shed, etc.) is only permitted once the main use has been established on the property. (ie: residential dwelling must be constructed first than accessory structures are permitted).

If you are unsure if you require a Building Permit, please contact the Chief Building Official to discuss the proposed construction. For your information, the following list gives some examples of typical projects that require a permit:

  • New construction (all residential, commercial, industrial, institutional) decks
  • New fireplaces or wood stoves
  • Completion of roughed-in fireplaces
  • Porches
  • Sun rooms
  • Solariums
  • Carports
  • Attached or detached garages
  • Dormers
  • Additions
  • Plumbing and/or drains
  • Pre-insulating and vapour barrier
  • New or structural alterations to windows or doors
  • Adding or removing most walls
  • Creating a washroom, kitchen or bedroom
  • Basement or main floor walkouts

Other Approvals

In addition to a building permit, you may require other approvals. Our Planning and Development staff will let you know which approvals are necessary. Some examples are indicated below.

Committee of Adjustment/Zoning By-law Amendment

If your proposal does not comply with the Zoning By-law, you will be required to submit an application and receive approval for an amendment and/or variance to the Zoning By-law. If the variance is considered of a minor nature, an application to the Committee of Adjustment to provide for variances to the Zoning By-law could be submitted for consideration. Approval for an amendment/variance is required it must be approved prior to a building permit being issued. Note that such application(s) require additional fees and it could take from 45 to 120 days to process.

Demolition Permits

Demolition Permits are available from the Planning and Development Division and are required for the demolition of any structure.

Entrance Permit

Approval is required from the Public Works Department to obtain an access permit confirming the proper entrance location. You can contact Public works directly at (807) 274-9893.

Preparing Your Building Permit Application

Pursuant to the Building Code Act, all designs for construction in the Province of Ontario must be completed by a person deemed qualified and who is  registered as a designer with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing. There are different levels of designer qualifications ranging from small and simple to large complex buildings.  Your Chief Building Official can advise you as to the level of qualification needed for your specific project. Additionally, large complex buildings generally require the design to be completed by a professional architect and engineering team. Your Chief Building Official can advise you as to the need for professional design.

All work indicated on your drawings must conform to the Ontario Building Code, Ontario Plumbing Regulations and Town of Fort Frances Zoning By-laws.

Zoning Requirements

Zoning specifies the uses permitted within particular properties and contains regulations governing such things as building setbacks, height, mass and coverage. You should contact the Planning Division before you begin your project or apply for a building permit to determine the specific requirements for your addition or alteration. We require your street address, lot number, concession number and/or registered plan number, as well as a Site Plan to scale to confirm the zoning compliance. For information call (807) 274-5323 ex 1216.


Contact the Planning and Development Division – Building Department early in the planning stages of your project BEFORE any drawings have been started. You will be required to submit some or all of the following: Site plan(s), floor plans, cross-sections and elevations. Determining the specific requirements for your application can speed up the approval process, and save you time and money. If you have any questions, our staff will be happy to assist you.

Site Plan

A site plan to scale identifying buildings and other features in relation to property boundaries. The site plan should identify any existing buildings and proposed addition(s). Most or all of the information required for a site plan can be found on your property survey. You may have received one when you purchased the property. If not, you may have to retain the services of a surveyor.The following information should be shown on a site plan:

  • Title and scale
  • Legal description
  • Street name
  • North arrow
  • Property lines and dimensions
  • Setbacks to all property lines from existing and proposed structure(s)
  • Proposed construction (shaded)
  • Overall building dimensions including height of structure(s)
  • Rights-of way and easements
  • Access and parking
  • Percentage of total lot coverage including addition or new structure
  • Identification of natural features (ie-water courses or ravines).


In some cases a complete property survey is not required. Instead, an existing site plan drawn to scale may suffice. Check with the Planning and Development staff.
All structures, existing and proposed, must be fully dimensioned and identified as to its specific use(s).

Floor Plans

Floor plans provide a "birds eye view" of the different floors of the proposed building. They show scaled dimensions of the rooms, halls and stairs on each floor, as well as the size, direction and spacing of structural member such as joists, beams and lintels.
The following information should be shown on a floor plan:

  • Title and scale
  • Room names
  • Interior and exterior dimensions, including door and window sizes
  • The materials used and the extent and size of both the new and existing structure(s)
  • Cross-sectional symbols
  • Location of plumbing fixtures
  • Square footage per floor area and identify number of stories.


Elevations show all views of a building. Elevation drawings may be required for any project which would alter the exterior view of your building.

The following information should be shown on elevation drawings:

  • Title and scale
  • Heights and dimensions of existing and new window and door openings
  • Exterior finishes and materials
  • Finished floor levels and grade
  • Extent of proposed addition and existing building
  • Overall height of building
  • Slope/pitch of new roofs

Cross Sections

A cross-section presents a view of a house along an imaginary cut, showing the structural elements of the building and exposing what is hidden behind the walls. Cross-sections through the proposed and existing structure(s) may be required to show building materials and how they relate to one another. The location of a cross-section is shown by the cross-section symbol on the floor plans.

The following information should be shown on a cross-section:

  • Title and scale
  • Room names and sizes
  • Heights and dimensions of doors and windows
  • Size and type of materials and finishes
  • Finished floor level and grades
  • Extend of existing house and proposed addition
  • Structural details, size, details of building materials

More detailed drawings may be necessary to fully explain a particular aspect of your project which varies from conventional construction practices.

Lot Grading Some developments require that a Lot Grading, Lot Servicing or Site Development Plan be submitted and approved by the Planning & Development Division and the Town of Fort Frances Engineering Department prior to the building permit being issued.  Such plans must be prepared by a qualified Civil Engineer licensed in the Province of Ontario. Please consult with the Planning & Development Division to ascertain as to the need for such site development plans.

Submitting Your Application For A Building Permit

Building permit applications may be completed at the office of the Chief Building Official. The Chief Building Official would be pleased to meet with you by appointment to assist you in this regard and answer any questions you may have regarding your project.. Alternatively you may submit a fully completed application by mail. For a full list of the documents required for a complete application you may contact John Burrows at or 807-274-5323 x 1216.

Your application should be accompanied by the following:

  • Two full sets of building plans (floor plans, elevations, cross sections and details)
  • Two sets of a survey or site plan showing the location of the proposed and existing buildings.

Larger more complex projects may require the submission of the additional following documents:

  • Two sets of a Lot Grading, Lot Servicing or Site Development Plan if required.
  • Designer information Schedule I if required.
  • Letter of Undertaking if required
  • Designers General Review/Commitment Certificate if required

There is a fee charged for a building permit. The Chief Building Official determines the fee based on the estimated cost of your project (construction material and labour). Payment of the building permit fee may be made by cash or certified cheque payable to the Town of Fort Frances or by Interac banking.

Incomplete applications cannot be accepted.

You will be notified by telephone when your permit is ready to be picked up. It is your responsibility to ensure that the permit is posted at the construction site and the reviewed drawings are available on site for the inspector.

The Approval Process

Your complete application will be reviewed to ensure that the proposed construction is in compliance with:

  • The Ontario Building Code.
  • The Ontario Fire Code.
  • Town of Fort Frances Zoning By-Law & Official Plan.
  • All other Applicable Law as prescribed by the Province of Ontario.


Several inspections are required during construction to ensure that all work is done according to the reviewed plans. They include, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Footing form work prior to placing concrete
  • Foundation damp proofing, waterproofing and installation of subsurface and surface water drainage systems prior to back-filling
  • Roughed-in plumbing and drains prior to covering
  • Structural framing prior to insulating
  • Insulation and vapour barriers
  • Final inspection for building, plumbing and Permission to Occupy.

Inspections do not happen automatically. It is your responsibility to ensure that either you or your contractor contacts the Chief Building Official to request an inspection at least one business day in advance before work proceeds from one inspection stage to the next. This will ensure that your project proceeds as approved.

For inspections call: John Burrows at or 807-274-5323 x 1216.