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Additions

 

Important terms

Addition: construction resulting in an increase in area to any building. This includes the attachment of any structure to the primary residential building, such as an accessory building, covered deck or porch.

Before you start

If your addition exceeds the requirements outlined in the Land Use Bylaw under Part 5, Division 1, Section 365, Exempt Additions, you will need to apply for a development permit prior to a building permit.

If your current home or any construction done on your home in the past without an approved permit does not meet the rules of the Land Use Bylaw, a development permit is required.

Depending on the type of renovation, new water, sanitary and storm services may be required to meet plumbing codes, maintain proper water pressure and ensure performance.  However, in some circumstances, it may be possible to reuse the existing service. Visit Residential water services reuse​ for more information.

What permits do I need?

When is a building permit required?

You always require a building permit if you are building an addition to your home.

Some examples of additions are:

  • Increases to living space
  • Attached garages and carports
  • Sunrooms
  • Covered porches and decks (including attached pergolas)

When is a development permit required?

A development permit is required if:

  • Your current home does not comply with the Land Use Bylaw and you are planning an addition.
  • You live in a developed area and you do not meet the exempt addition rules in  Part 5, Division 1, Section 365 of the Land Use Bylaw. For more information, see Do you meet the Exempt Additions rules in the Land Use Bylaw? in the bylaw and code considerations section below.
  • You live in a developing area and you do not meet the rules outlined in Part 5, Low Density Residential, of the Land Use Bylaw.

See the bylaw and code considerations section for examples of different scenarios where development permits are required.

When is a trade permit required?

As the homeowner, you are able to obtain homeowner’s plumbing, electrical and gas fireplace installation permits. To apply for a homeowner’s trade permit, you must be performing the work yourself, you must own the home with proof of ownership (in cases where the property has been purchased recently) and live in the home. If you are hiring a contractor, they must have a valid City of Calgary business licence and obtain the proper permits. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure these permits have been obtained.

You cannot apply for a trade permit on behalf of a contractor. If your contractor is performing the work, they must apply for the applicable trade permit.

Risks when a permit is not obtained

If you, as a homeowner or contractor, do not have permits for work that has been started or completed, there could be consequences if you do not take action to correct the situation, such as:

  • Enforcement action issued by a City inspector.
  • A fine for building without a permit.
  • Having to undo work that has been completed.
  • Future legal and financial issues when selling your property or making an insurance claim.
  • Having to do more work than was originally planned and budgeted.

Note: As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying any penalties, even if you hired a contractor who assured you permits were not needed. If you are unsure if you need a permit, call the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311. Find out if your contractor has a City of Calgary business license with our Licensed Trade Contractor List.

Existing structures requiring relaxation

If a structure has already been built and does not comply with the rules of the Land Use Bylaw, a relaxation application is required. The applicant applies for a development permit application to weigh the impacts of the non-compliant structure and evaluate whether a relaxation is appropriate. When making this type of application, use the requirements list for Relaxation of an Existing Structure.

Timelines

Development permit timelines vary, based on the type of application and the impacts to the community.

Most building permits for home improvement projects can be issued the same day as the application. However, sometimes a plans examiner will require a more in-depth examination of the application and the building permit is generally issued within a week.

Bylaw and code considerations

Inquiries about building, plumbing, gas, electrical or heating, ventilation and air conditioning ​code or construction methods, building safety and fire regulations, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre​. For all other inquiries (i.e. Land Use Bylaw), please call 403-268-5311.

Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work being carried out conforms to any restrictive covenants, caveats or other restrictions that are registered on the land title.

Do you meet the exempt additions rules in the Land Use Bylaw? (Part 5, Division 1, Section 365)

If your addition is on the upper floor, does not exceed the existing roof height and is under 10 m²,  then you meet this rule.

Upper addition example
Upper addition example

If your addition is on the main floor at the front of the house, does not extend forward more than 1.5 m from the original front facade, meets the corresponding height requirements and is under 40 m²,  then you meet this rule.

Front addition walk out
Front addition walk out
Front addition not a walk out
Front addition not a walk out

If your addition is on the main floor at the rear of the house, does not extend back more than 4.6 m from the original rear facade, meets the corresponding height requirements and is under 40 m², then you meet this the rule.

Rear addition walk out
Rear addition walk out
Rear addition not a walk out
Rear addition not a walk out

Note: your total addition area cannot exceed 40 m²  to meet the addition exemption rules.

Parcel coverage

Parcel coverage by all buildings cannot exceed a certain percentage of your total property size. This percentage is dictated by your specific land use district. To find out your land use district, please enter your address in the property information tool. See the graph below to determine your allowable lot coverage.

Land Use District Allowable Coverage (%) Parcel Area <= 300 m2
Parcel wdith < 10 m2
Parcel Area <= 300 m2
Parcel wdith < 8.7 m2
Parcel width > 11 m Semi-Detached / Duplex Row / Townhouse
R-C1L
R-C1Ls
40 x x x x x
R-C1
R-C1s
R-C2
R-1
R-1s
R-MH
R-CG*
45 x x x x x
R-C1N 45 50 x x x x
R-1N 50 x 60 45 x x
R-2 45 x x x 50 x
R-2M 45 x x x 50 60
*Parcel coverage rules for R-CG change as density increases.

Note: If the aggregate area of all accessory buildings is under 10m2, those structures will not contribute to parcela piece of land. coverage.

To calculate lot coverage, you will need to divide the footprint area of all applicable buildings by the property size.

(Total building area ÷ property area) × 100 = lot coverage per cent

Example:

Parcel coverage example
Parcel coverage example
  1. Use the property information tool and the graph above to figure out the allowable coverage for the property.
    R-C1 = 45%
  2. Calculate the property area.
    10.36 m × 32.0 m = 331.52 m2
  3. Add all applicable building areas:
    house: 77.2 m2
    covered deck: 9.3 m2
    shed: 10.2 m2
    garage: 40.8 m2
    gazebo: + 4.2 m2
    Total building area = 147.7 m2
  4. Divide the total building area by the property area and times that by 100 to get a percentage.
    total building area = 141.7 m2 × 100 = 42.74%
    property area = 331.52 m2

R-C1 allows for a maximum lot coverage of 45 per cent. Therefore, the proposal comes within the allowable lot coverage.

Building setbacks

The setback requirements for existing and new structures are the same.

For all residential districts, except R-C1L/R-C1Ls, there is a 1.2 m requirement for both side property lines where the property has a lane. Where the property does not have a lane or a front attached garage a 1.2 m side setback on one side, and 3 m on the other is required.

If your property is in a developing district, a 3.0 m front setback is required where the property is laned and a 2.0 m setback where it is laneless. If your property is in a developed district, other than R-C1L, a 1.5 m allowance is subtracted from the contextual front setback to determine the minimum front setback for the proposed addition. However, the front setback cannot be less than 3.0 m. The district R-C1L is an exception. In this district, the minimum front setback is 6.0 m.

All low density residential properties, except R-MH, require a 7.5 m required setback from the rear property line.

Projections into setback areas

All low density residential properties must have at least one side setback free and clear of all projections (i.e. cantilevers, window wells, air conditioning units).

The maximum length of any projection in a setback area is 3.1 m.

Portions of a building may project 0.6 m into the side setback, while not being located closer than 0.9 m to the front facade. Air conditioning units can project 1.0 m and window wells can project 0.8 m.

There may be no projections in the 3 m required side setback on properties without a lane or a front attached garage.

Landings and stairs may project without limits into the side setback, if:

  • They provide access to the main or lower floor.
  • The landing area does not exceed 2.5 m2.
  • The landing is accessible from front and back.
  • No more than 1.8 m2 of the landing is in the setback.

On a corner parcel, the regular projection rules apply; however, no projection can be located within 3.0 m of the BOW or FOC.

Safety standards for residential additions

You may require drawings that are signed and sealed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in Alberta if:

  • You are using a grade beam and pile foundation system.
  • You are using a non-engineered roof truss system.
  • You are using a preserved wood foundation (PWF).
  • Any of your structural details are not covered by the Alberta Building Code.

For detailed and complete safety code information, please refer to the Alberta Municipal Affairs and Housing Safety at municipalaffairs.gov.ab.ca.

Asbestos abatement

You must declare whether or not the project area contains asbestos, and if so, you must declare that the asbestos has been properly removed from the project area. These declarations can be made using the Asbestos Abatement Information Form which must be provided at time of application.

Adding a bathroom or increasing the intensity of utilities

If you are planning additional plumbing (like a new bathroom, kitchen or laundry room) or increasing your potential water consumption in any way, you may be charged an additional grades fee for updating the existing utilities.

New home buyer protection program

A new Home Buyer Warranty may be required if your addition is 75 per cent or more of the existing house square footage. For more information about the warranty in reference to additions, see the reconstruction bulletin on Alberta Municipal Affairs Registrar Bulletins page. Visit the new home warranties page or call 1-866-421-6929 for general information.

Note: It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the work being carried out does not break the requirements of restrictive covenants, caveats, or any other restrictions that are registered against the property.

Radon requirement

The Alberta Building Code requires a radon remediation system rough-in installation for all new construction projects. If you are adding to the footprint of your home, this will affect your renovation. 

Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is invisible, odourless and tasteless. When diluted by the air around us, it does not cause problems. When concentrated in enclosed space, however, it has been linked to serious health issues. 

The rough-in installation allows for future remediation of radon gas, if required. After the space is built, if testing shows that the levels of radon are above the Health Canada threshold of 200 Becquerel per metres3 (a Becquerel is a unit of radioactivity), an extraction system will be easy to install because of the existing rough-in.

For the purpose of your addition building permit application, a rough-in detail drawing is required to show a sealed air barrier, an open end pipe to collect soil gas, granular material beneath the slab, and a capped/labelled stub up for future use.

Radon requirement

For more information on radon mitigation, please contact Health Canada. If you have specific questions regarding installation requirements for your radon rough-in, please contact our Technical Assistance Centre​.

What documents do I need?

Where you live and the type of property you have will determine which requirement list you need to apply for a permit. Please read the content carefully and bring your completed documents, with drawings to the Planning Services Centre.

Sample drawings for building permits and development permits for additions.

Inspections

Book your inspections by contacting 311 and providing them with your permit number.

Generally, your project will require a rough-in and a final inspection for each building and trade permit pulled, though additional inspections may be required. You can contact 311 on the morning of your inspection to find out if it will be in the morning or afternoon.

A development completion permit inspection may be required if a development permit is involved in your project. Call our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to determine if a development completion permit is required.

Call before you dig

Always call Alberta One Call before you dig: 1-800-242-3447. For more information or to submit a locate request, visit Alberta One-Call.

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​