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Home renovations & basements

 

Basements, kitchens, bathrooms, new or enlarged windows, and exterior doors, structural and framing changes.

We’re here to help guide you through your home improvement project. By completing the home improvement application, we can assist you by:

  • Determining what permit types you require
  • Offering solutions or alternatives
  • Processing your application
  • Transitioning you smoothly through the application process

Do I need a permit?

Typically you do NOT need a permit, if your home renovation project is:

  • Replacing bathroom fixtures
  • Replacing kitchen cabinets
  • Painting walls or changing flooring in a room
  • Minor cosmetic upgrades

If your home renovation falls outside of any of the above specifications, you will require a permit.

Visit understanding permits and the review proces​s to find out more about the permitting process.

How do I make an application?

Step 1: Open the application form and checklist

Use the home improvement application as a starting point, to determine the specific requirements for your project.

Step 2: Prepare your drawings

To help you design your project, see the building code and City bylaw information​ section.

Step 3: Apply

Submit the application once you have provided all the documents required. Use our fee calculator to estimate how much your permit will cost.

Online

Homeowners: Coming soon

Contractors/industry professionals: Apply online

In person

Once you have gathered the required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment.

Building code and bylaw information

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 and meets all rules and guidelines of the Land Use Bylaw and Alberta Building Code.​

Illustrations of codes and bylaw​s

New window or enlarging a window

If you are adding or enlarging a window in your basement, a building permit is required. If the proposed window is located within a bedroom, egress requirements in the Alberta Building Code must be met. For a comprehensive explanation of these requirements, please see Egress Window Guidelines.

Note: Engineering may be required for structural alterations. Contact our Technical Assistance Centre for more information.

Land Use By​law rules​

Land Use Bylaw requirements for new windows:

  • One side setback must be clear of all projections (air conditioning equipment, window wells, cantilevers and bay windows).
  • A window well can only project to a maximum of 0.8 m into a side setback.
  • Window wells must not project into the 3.0 m side setback required on a laneless property.
  • A 3.0 m side setback from the back of walk is required for a corner property.

A development permit may be required if the above rules are not met.

If you will be adding or changing sizes of any windows that face a side property line, you must provide elevation drawings. The elevation drawings must be drawn to scale, show the entire side of the house where changes are proposed and include all the existing and proposed windows. Make sure to include all dimensions of walls and windows. There is a limited percentage of windows allowed on a side elevation, depending on the distance of the house to the property line and the size of the building face. Please note that proposed windows are not permitted within 1.2 m from the property line.

new window or enlarging a window
New window or enlarging a window

Building Code rules

When adding new exterior windows to your concrete foundation wall, a professional Engineer’s structural review is required when one or more of the following applies:

  • The width of a new opening exceeds 1.2m (4’-0”)
  • The combined width of all new and existing openings in one wall exceeds 25% of the overall length of that wall
  • The width of solid wall which remains between an existing opening and a new opening is less than the width of either of those openings

Refer to Division B, 9.15.4.3. of the 2014 Alberta Building Code for more information.

New basement entry

A new basement entry requires a building permit.

Note: Engineering may be required for structural alterations. Contact our Technical Assistance Centre for more information.

Land Use Bylaw rules

When your proposed entry requires a landing, the landing must:

  • Not exceed 2.5 m².
  • Not be located in the 3.0 m side setback area required on a laneless property.
  • Not be located in a side setback area that is required to be clear of projections unless the landing is accessible from the rear and the front.
landing example
Landing example

Building Code rules

When adding new exterior doors to your concrete foundation wall, a professional Engineer’s structural review is required when one or more of the following applies:

  • The width of a new opening exceeds 1.2m (4’-0”)
  • The combined width of all new and existing openings in one wall exceeds 25% of the overall length of that wall
  • The width of solid wall which remains between an existing opening and a new opening is less than the width of either of those openings

Refer to Division B, 9.15.4.3. of the 2014 Alberta Building Code for more information.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detector requirements

Smoke detectors are required in all bedrooms and hallways servicing bedrooms. They must be hard-wired and interconnected throughout the house. If there are no hallways servicing bedrooms in your basement, smoke detectors are required within common areas.

smoke and carbon monoxide requirements
Smoke and carbon monoxide requirements

Energy efficiency requirements

Your renovation may be required to meet energy efficiency requirements under Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code. If the application for the building of the house was submitted on or after Nov. 1, 2016 any new renovations must comply with these energy efficiency requirements. If the application for the building of the house was submitted before Nov. 1, 2016 you do not need to comply with the energy efficiency requirements of Section 9.36 of the Alberta Building Code.

All renovations to your home must include building construction and mechanical components (furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, etc.) that perform as well as, or better than, any similar existing construction or mechanical components that are in the home or that are being replaced. In addition to energy efficiency requirements, all changes must also meet applicable Alberta Building Code requirements.

New heating, ventilation, air conditioning and service water heating systems are always required to be properly certified.

New work and replacement of "like for like" mechanical components and systems normally requires building, gas and/or electrical permits. Please see the Alberta Permit Regulation and the Calgary Building Permit Bylaw for details.

When maintaining and repairing building components or mechanical components in homes, replacements are allowed as long as you replace the component with a similar material or part that performs as well as, or better than, what you are replacing. This includes exterior cladding, windows, doors, mechanical systems, etc.

Mechanical/furnace room requirements

Your mechanical/furnace room or laundry room is required to have at least one door with a minimum 32 inch opening. One pathway that leads from these rooms to the exterior of the house is also required to be 32 in.

Wetbars/kitchens

If you are intending to have a kitchen and bathroom in your basement, you must apply for a secondary suite.

A wetbar may be included in your development but it cannot have a means of cooking (i.e oven, stove, cooktop, microwave).

Obtaining permits after the work is complete

If your basement has previously been finished without proper permits, you may still apply for the permits after renovations have been completed.

The building permit application can be made by the homeowner. You must provide the same requirements as a new application and may be required to expose concealed framing.

Concealed wiring procedure

For an electrical permit, when the work has been concealed by drywall, you are required to follow the concealed wiring procedure. A homeowner’s permit cannot be issued for a home that has concealed wiring that was done without proper permits.

To have the inspection done, the owner must hire a registered, licensed electrical contractor. The electrical contractor will have to obtain an electrical permit and check that the wiring complies with electrical codes. However, the homeowner is still ultimately responsible for any previously concealed electrical wiring.

Concealed plumbing procedure

For a plumbing permit, when the work has been concealed by drywall, you are required to follow the concealed plumbing procedure. A homeowner’s permit cannot be issued for a home that has concealed plumbing that was done without proper permits.

To have the inspection done, the owner must hire a registered, licenced plumbing contractor. The plumbing contractor will have to obtain a plumbing permit and check that the plumbing complies with plumbing codes. However, the homeowner is still responsible for any previously concealed plumbing.

Note: There is a possibility the inspector may ask for drywall to be removed to complete their inspection. For further inquiries, please contact our Technical Assistance Centre.

Additional 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 contact our Planning Services Centre.

Inspection information

All residential construction and electrical permits can be booked at 311 online services Inspection - Residential Improvement Project/Electric. Plumbing and gas permits can be booked 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.

The inspection process is dynamic and an inspection outcome depends on the construction method and site conditions at time of inspection. The information provided is not intended as an exhaustive list, but a generalized outline of the inspection process.

Inspections for building permits

Rough-in inspection requirements

  • Install and complete any structural changes.
  • Install and complete all wall and ceiling framing.
  • Install proposed windows and exterior doors.
  • Install and complete any HVAC changes.
  • Rough-in, install and complete all plumbing and electrical components required under associated permits.

Final inspection requirements (completed at the safety codes officer’s discretion)

  • The building should be completed. Although preferred, it is not necessary to have the wallboard installed for a final inspection.

Inspections for plumbing permits

Rough-in inspection requirements

  • Install and complete all plumbing drainage and venting.
  • Install waterlines and connect to the rest of the water distribution system.
  • Properly support all drains, vents, and waterlines.
  • Install the bathtub/shower valve.

Final inspection requirements

  • Install all fixtures and equipment and ensure they are ready for use.
  • Temperature of water at the bathtub and shower must not exceed 49 degrees Celsius.
  • Seal all piping designed for future fixtures with an approved plug or cap.
  • Provide a shut off valve with toilets.

Inspections for electrical permits

Rough-in inspection requirements

  • Have all wiring and interior of boxes readily visible.
  • Do not secure devices (plugs, switches) to boxes. Devices do not need to be installed for the rough inspection.
  • Remove vapour barriers and insulation where it’s covering any wiring. The exception is for wiring fished into walls.
  • Terminate all wiring into boxes and fixtures and remove outer jackets.
  • All wiring must be supported.
  • Cables may be terminated into the panelboard, but should not be on breakers.
  • Rough and underground inspections should be combined. Backfilling a trench may be granted with prior permission.
  • Never energize exposed wiring.

Final inspection requirements

  • Do not have any exposed live wiring.
  • Ensure all outlets, light fixtures and cover plates are in place.
  • Energize all branch circuits for inspection.
  • Complete the panelboard breaker directory.

A permit services report will be mailed to the owner after an acceptable inspection.

A development completion permit inspection may be required if a development permit is involved in your project. Contact the Planning Services Centre 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.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​