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Uncovered decks and balconies

 

Important terms

Deck: an uncovered horizontal structure with a surface height greater than 0.6 m above grade at any point.

Patio: an uncovered horizontal structure with a surface height no greater than 0.6 m above grade at any point.

Balcony: a horizontal platform that is attached to a building above the first storey.

Before you start

If you are building a pergola or roof structure that is attached to your house, this is considered an addition, please see additions.

If you are building any sort of roof structure that is detached from the house, this is considered an accessory residential building. Please visit detached garages and sheds, and other accessory residential buildings.

What permits do I need?

You may need an approval for a development permit before you submit a building permit application.

When is a development permit required?

Here are common examples where development permits are required:

  • Your property is located in the developed area, your house does not have a walk-out basement and your deck is 1.5 m or more in height.
  • Your deck or balcony is closer than 1.2 m to a side property line.
  • Your deck or balcony is closer than 6.0 m to the rear property line.
  • Your deck is on top of a detached garage.
  • Your open balcony projects more than 1.85 m from the facade.
  • Your recessed balcony exceeds 10 m² in area.

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 must apply for a development permit for The City 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.

When is a building permit required?

Decks and balconies always require a building permit. If the entire surface of the proposed structure is under 0.6 m from grade, the structure is considered a patio and does not require a building permit.

When is a trade permit required?

Trade permits are required for electrical, plumbing, gas or mechanical work. This work will be inspected by safety code officers familiar with the applicable trade, to ensure code compliance.

Types of trades permits

  • Electrical permit: required for any electrical work being done to the residence. Landscape lighting does not require a permit.
  • Plumbing permit: required for any plumbing work being done to the residence. Irrigation systems do not require a permit, unless the plumbing in the residence is being altered.
  • Gas permit: required if you are planning to have a gas fireplace installed, a gas line for a barbeque or any other gas related work.
  • Gas fireplace installation permit: required if the gas contractor is not installing the fireplace.

Do it yourself

As the homeowner, you are able to obtain homeowner’s plumbing, electrical and gas fireplace installation permits. To apply for a homeowner trade permit, you must:

  • Be performing the work yourself.
  • Own the home (you must provide proof of ownership if the property has been purchased recently).
  • Live in the home.

You may be asked to show photo ID for verification.

Note: A homeowner is not permitted to install, alter or modify the main electrical service (which includes the main panel’s main breaker and the meter base). However, a homeowner is permitted to alter or tie into the main panel (with the exception of the main breaker) and may add a sub-panel to an existing main service, provided there is an existing main breaker.

See the homeowner plumbing guide and the homeowner electrical guide​ for tips on doing it yourself.

Working with a contractor

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. This information can be acquired by contacting the Planning Services Centre.

A homeowner may not 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.

If you have an inquiry in regards to building, plumbing, electrical or HVAC code, submit a Technical Assistance Centre service request​ or call 311. For all other inquiries (e.g. Land Use Bylaw questions), please contact the Planning Services Centre.

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.

Timelines

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 gen​erally issued within a week.

Development permit timelines vary based on the type of application and the impacts to the community. Development permits must be approved and released before a building permit can be issued.

Homeowner trade permits​ can be issued instantly at the counter.

We’re committed to providing you with a timely response on your permit application.

Know the rules

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.

Deck - general rules

In the developed area, the maximum height for a deck that is not located on the same facade as a basement walkout entry is 1.5 m. To find out if your property is located in a developed area, enter your address in the property information tool.

In both the developed and developing areas, the height of a deck must not exceed 0.3 m above the main floor level of a house.

Deck Height: Illustration of deck height maximums in developed and developing areas
Deck height: illustration of deck height maximums in developed and developing areas.
 

All decks:

  • Must not project into any side or front setback area.
  • May project a maximum of 1.5 m into any rear setback area. In most cases it must be at least 6.0 m from the rear property line.
Decks in the Backyard and Sideyard – Illustration of minimum side and rear setbacks
Decks in the back yard and side yard: illustration of minimum side and rear setbacks.
 

Front decks within the developed area

Due to the more immediate aesthetic impacts on the neighborhood, decks built in the front yard in developed areas are subject to different rules than those built in side and rear yards. At the minimum, decks must be 3.0 m from the front property line. This minimum setback may increase depending on the contextual front setback. See the example below on calculating your contextual front setback.

Contextual Front Setback – Illustration showing the calculation of the contextual front setback for decks in the Developed area
Contextual front setback: illustration showing the calculation of the contextual front setback for decks in the developed area.
 

Privacy walls

A deck or balcony that is attached to a semi-detached, rowhouse or townhouse building requires a privacy wall when the deck is located within 1.2 m of a shared property line. The privacy wall must be no less than 2.0 m and not greater than 3.0 m in height, measured from the surface of the deck. If a privacy wall is being installed on a balcony for a single de​tached dwelling, the maximum height is 2.0 m.

Privacy Walls – Illustration of a privacy wall located within 1.2 metres of the side property line and extending the full depth of a deck
Privacy walls: illustration of a privacy wall located within 1.2m of the side property line and extending the full depth of a deck.
 

Pergolas and trellises

If a pergola or roof structure is being attached to a house, the structure is considered an addition. Please refer to the additions page. If the structure being built is detached from the house, it is considered an accessory residential building and must comply with the applicable Land Use Bylaw rules. For more information see detached garages and sheds, and other accessory residential buildings.

When building a pergola on a deck that is not attached to the house, a 1.0 m separation from the house is required. You may require additional information for these types of permit applications and a review from a professional engineer.

Pergolas – Illustration of the difference between an attached and detached pergola
Pergolas: illustration of the difference between an attached and detached pergola.
 

Balconies - important rules

Rules vary for balconies based on whether they are open or recessed. Open balconies must not project more than 1.85 m from the building façade to which it is attached. A recessed balcony must not exceed 10 m² in floor area.

Open balcony – Illustration of a balcony unenclosed on 3 sides
Open balcony: illustration of a balcony unenclosed on 3 sides.
 

All balconies:

  • Must not project into any side or front setback area.
  • May project a maximum of 1.5 m into any rear setback area. In most cases it must be at least 6.0 m from the rear property line.
  • May be a maximum length of 3.1 m when located in a rear setback area

Zero lot lines

Zero lot lines allow you to build a deck to your side property line. Zero lot lines commonly exist in conjunction with a maintenance access right of way on the opposite side of the lot.

Zero Lot Lines – Illustration of a zero lot line and a maintenance access right-of-way
Zero lot lines: illustration of a zero lot line and a maintenance access right-of-way.
 

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 or call 311. For all other inquiries (i.e. Land Use Bylaw), please contact our Planning Services Centre.

How to apply

Once you have determined which application(s) you require, you can start to prepare the application requirements as outline below. For building, development and trade permits, homeowners can apply in person at the Planning Services Centre, located on the third floor of the Calgary Municipal Building at 800 Macleod Tr. S.E. Business customers have the option to apply online through our ePermit system. For drafted examples, see the sample drawings​ section.

The requirement lists below are a comprehensive overview of application requirements. Please print and have all applicable forms and drawings completed prior to applying.

Building permits

Deck in developed area building permit requirement list

  • Application form: have this document completed when applying at the counter. List the address, applicant and contractor, if a contractor is being used.
  • Interactive fee calculator: input the size of the deck, to determine the building permit fees.
  • Letter of authorization: if your building has a condo board, provide a letter from the board authorizing your work.

Trade permits

If you are applying for homeowner trade permits in addition to your building permit, these must be applied for in-person by the homeowner. There are no additional forms or drawings required to apply. See the When is a trade permit required?​ section for more information and to see if you qualify.

Homeowner trade permit fees

Development permits

If you do not have a copy of your Certificate of Title or registrations on title, these can be obtained through an Alberta registry or at alta.registries.gov.ab.ca​.

Development permit fees

Sample drawings

Sample drawings for building permits and development permits for uncovered decks and balconies.

Inspections

Book your inspections by contacting 311 and providing them with your building 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 chosen 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 buildin​g permits

Rough-in inspection requirements

  • Complete the deck structure, hand rail and stairs.
  • Do not install finishes that would conceal the structure.
  • Have requested documentation on site.

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

  • The structure should be completed.

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.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​