Fireplace: an architectural structure designed to contain a fire used for heating, cooking and other domestic uses. There are different types of fireplaces:
Outdoor fireplace: a fireplace outside of a home, attached to the house, roof, deck or garage.
Wood burning fireplace (either masonry or factory-built): a heating appliance capable of burning wood fuel and wood-derived biomass fuel, like wood pellets. Generally, the appliance consists of solid metal (usually cast iron or steel) closed fire chamber, a fire brick base and an adjustable air control.
Gas fireplace: an appliance fuelled by either liquid propane or natural gas. They are completely sealed from the area that is heated, and vent all exhaust gasses to the exterior of the structure.
Before you start
A building permit is required for all factory-built wood burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts. If you are building an outdoor fireplace attached to a home, roof, deck or garage, you will require a building permit.
A building permit is only required for a gas fireplace insert if the installation includes a new exterior projection on the house (like a chimney chase).
Used wood-burning appliances may only be installed in a detached garage.
What permits do I require?
The scope of work being performed will dictate what permits are required. If a development permit is required, this must be applied for and approved prior to building permit and trade permit applications.
When is a building permit required?
A building permit is required if:
- You are installing any factory-built wood-burning fireplaces, stoves and inserts.
- You are building an outdoor fireplace attached to a house, roof, deck or garage.
If you are installing a gas fireplace that includes a new exterior projection on the house, you will need to apply for a building permit for an addition.
Fireplace cantilever distance from property line
When is a development permit required?
A development permit is required if your installation requires an exterior projection that does not meet the rules of the Land Use Bylaw.
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.
Gas fireplace permit
A gas permit can only be applied for by a qualified, licensed contractor. If the gasfitter is doing the entire installation (installing the fireplace and all related piping and connections), they will only require the gas permit and not the gas fireplace installation permit.
Gas fireplace installation permit
A gas fireplace installation permit is only for the installation of a fireplace insert. It does not include the gas connection. It may be applied for by a registered gas fireplace installer, or the homeowner may apply for a homeowner's fireplace installation permit if they live in the home and will be installing the fireplace themselves.
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.
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.
Installing a fireplace when finishing your basement
When you are developing your basement, you will also require a basement development building permit. For more information, contact the Technical Assistance Centre.
Installing a fireplace with an exterior projection
If you are installing a gas fireplace with an exterior projection that does not meet the addition rules of the Land Use Bylaw, a development permit is required. You must not project into a side setback area if there is an existing projection on the opposite side.
An example of this is if you are proposing a chimney on the left side of your residence that is into the 1.2 m side setback area when you have an existing projection, such as a window well on the right side of your residence that is projecting into the 1.2 m side setback area. The length of the projection must not exceed 3.1 m when in a setback area.
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 fireplaces.
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.