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Heating, cooling and ventilation

Outdoor fireplaces, masonry or factory built wood burning fireplaces, gas fireplaces, air conditioning equipment, solar panels, and thermal collectors, furnaces and gas appliances, carbon monoxide detectors and propane gas cylinders.

Do I need a permit?

All fireplaces, air conditioning equipment and solar collectors will require one or more permit types.

A homeowner can apply for permits regarding the design and construction of the structure containing solar collectors but all technical permits must be applied for by a qualified trade contactor.

How do I apply?

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 fireplaces, air conditioning equipmentsolar collectors and furnace and gass appliances sections.

Step 3: Apply

Submit the application along with all required documents. Use our fee calculator to estimate how much your permit will cost.

Online

Homeowners: summer 2018

Contractors and industry professionals: vista.calgary.ca

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.

Fireplaces

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.

Two permits are required if the homeowner or contactor is installing the fireplace and is not a qualified gas fitter. One permit is required if a qualified gas fitter is doing the entire gas fireplace installation (including the fireplace itself and all the piping/connections). In this case, the work can all be completed under one permit – the gas permit.

  • Gas permit – This permit includes the fireplace, venting and gas connection. Only a qualified gas fitter can apply for this type of permit. 

  • Contractor’s gas fireplace installation permit – This permit includes the installation of new fireplaces, gas inserts, and related venting. It does not include the gas line connection that serves the appliance.
      
  • Homeowner’s gas fireplace installation permit – a homeowner may apply for this permit if he or she lives in the home and will be installing the fireplace and venting only. See the Homeowner's gas fireplace installation permit application. This permit does not include the gas line connection that serves the appliance. 

Illustrations of codes and bylaws


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 or call 311.

Installing a fireplace with a bump out

If you are installing a gas fireplace with a bump out 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 would be built 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.

Call 311 and ask for the Technical Assistance Centre for inquiries about construction or code requirements for these areas: 

  • building codes
  • plumbing
  • gas 
  • electrical or heating
  • ventilation and air conditioning

For all other inquiries, including the Land Use Bylaw, please contact the Planning Services Centre. 

Furnace and Gas Appliances

Note: It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure all applicable permits have been obtained before work starts.

All gas appliances should be treated with respect. Improper installation, repair or damage to the unit could lead to sickness, injury or even death from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

All furnace installations and replacements require a permit.

  • A gas permit is issued to a qualified gas fitter and includes the appliance, venting and gas line serving the appliance.
  • A furnace replacement permit is issued to a qualified HVAC contractor and will include the appliance and venting only.
  • A mechanical permit is issued to a qualified HVAC contractor and includes any major additions or alterations to the related ductwork.

All new gas range installations require a permit.

  • A gas permit is issued to a qualified gas fitter and includes the appliance and gas line servicing the appliance.
  • All new gas ranges must be installed according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Before shopping for a new gas range, make a sketch of the area dimensions to ensure the new unit will fit. Ensure there is proper clearance for combustible materials, in either the old space or in a new area. Clearance requirements for the new range could be different from the existing range.

Installing a furnace or gas appliance during basement renovations

As of May 1, 2017, the Government of Alberta requires that a replacement furnace not be used to heat a space undergoing renovation. This means the furnace must be completely isolated from the renovation space so it does not pick up any byproducts from construction which could inhibit proper operation.

Installing a furnace or gas appliance in Secondary Suites

An independent heating and ventilation system that includes independent ductwork is required for secondary suites.

Several heating systems can be used:

  • A second forced air furnace may be installed for the suite.
  • Electric baseboard heaters or hydronic radiant heating may be installed with an independent ventilation system, like a heat recovery ventilator.

If a single boiler is being used for both units, separate zone controls are required for each unit. Heating equipment must include easy access to compartments for inspection, maintenance and cleaning.

Gas appliance safety tips

  • Ensure the furnace electrical switch is off when working in the fan compartments and always replace the door after servicing.
  • Keep the area around your furnace and water heater clear of clutter (especially combustible material).
  • Check vent connector pipes for possible corrosion or obstruction. Replace corroded pipes and remove any obstructions.
  • Ensure your furnace receives sufficient airflow for proper operation. Check that combustion and ventilation ducts are open to the outside and are free from blockage.
  • For high efficiency appliances, please ensure all vents and air intakes are free and clear of debris.

For code or related information, please call 311 and ask to be directed to the Technical Assistance Centre for Plumbing and Gas or visit us at Electrical and gas appliances.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. Carbon monoxide alarms are mandatory on each level of your home and near all sleeping areas. Choose an electric powered model with battery back-up in case of a power outage and check the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the replacement date. Most carbon monoxide detectors need to be replaced every two to five years.

To avoid problems with carbon monoxide, have a qualified service technician check and service your central heating system, gas water heater, gas range and gas dryer annually.

Propane Gas

Never store propane cylinders (either full or empty) inside your home, recreational vehicle, garage or workshop. Propane should be stored outside in a shady, protected area, and far from any heat or flame source. Always keep the cylinder:

  • outside and upright
  • closed when stored (even if empty)
  • upright and secure when transporting (whether full or empty)
  • on firm footing when in use

All propane cylinders have a pressure reduced regulator. Do not use your outdoor gas grill close to the side of a building and never under any surface that will burn such as a carport. To check for leaks, spread soapsuds on the cylinder and wait for the bubbles to expand. Never use a match or flame to check for leaks.

Make sure your propane supplier checks the requalification date on your cylinder and inspects it for leaks and corrosion. Suppliers should purge trapped air from the cylinder prior to the first filling and should not overfill.

Air conditioning equipment

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.

Where to install an air conditioning unit

You can install an air conditioning unit in a rear or side setback with the following conditions:

  • Air conditioning units can only project 1.0 m into any side setback area.
  • If a parcel has no lane or alley access, and there is no front or side garage, a 3.0 m side setback is required to allow for a possible future driveway leading to a rear garage. With this type of layout, air conditioning equipment cannot project into the 3.0 m side setback area.

Note: This does not include cantilevers and portions of the building higher than 2.4 m above grade. i.e; an upper floor cantilever.

Where to install air conditioning units

When air conditioning units are proposed on the same lot as a semi-detached dwelling, equipment is only permitted when one side setback area is on the street side of a corner parcel.

Previously installed air conditioning units

If you have a previously installed air conditioning unit that does not meet the Land Use Bylaw rules, a development permit for relaxation is required.

If the air conditioning unit was installed prior to June 1, 2008, there were no bylaw rules for air conditioning equipment and proof of installation is required to confirm the installation date.

Acceptable forms of proof are:

  • An official receipt or invoice showing the installation date (not the purchase date) of the equipment.
  • The builder’s purchase agreement showing record of air conditioning installation.

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 call 403-268-5311.

Solar collectors

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.

The City is working to make installing solar collection equipment easier, while respecting the interests of the community. The City has designed rules to allow citizens to use solar equipment, while ensuring the impact on adjacent neighbours is limited.

The province of Alberta (Energy Efficiency Alberta) is rolling out a new Residential and Commercial Solar Program in 2017. This program subsidizes the residential and commercial solar installation costs up to 30 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. For more information, visit Energy Efficiency Alberta.

It is the property owner’s responsibility to calculate the system’s access to sunlight. This includes taking into account the surrounding plant life, your current neighbours and the eventual development of nearby areas.

Illustrations of Codes and Bylaws

Photovoltaic solar collector
Photovoltaic solar collector

Photovoltaic solar collectors, commonly known as solar panels, convert sunlight directly into electricity. The excess electricity may be stored in batteries or is exported into the main electrical utility system.

These solar collectors can only be wall- or roof-mounted.

Solar Thermal collector
Solar Thermal collector

Solar thermal collectors convert radiant energy from the sun into thermal (hot water) energy, which is then transferred into your home heating system in the form of hot water and space heating. The heat from the exchanger will then heat the water inside the tank. Two common types of exchangers are single wall heat exchangers and double wall heat exchangers

Land Use Bylaw rules

A development permit is required to install a solar collector if it does not follow the rules of the Land Use Bylaw and it is not on The City’s inventory of potential heritage sites (refer to Section 25(1) (n) in the Land Use Bylaw). To determine your specific land use district, search your home address in the property information tool.

Low density residential districts

A solar collector mounted on a wall:

  • Must be located a minimum of 2.4 m above grade; and
  • May project a maximum of
    • 5 m from the surface of that wall, when the wall is facing a rear property line; and
    • 6 m from the surface of that wall, in all other cases.

A solar collector mounted on a roof:

  • Must not extend beyond the outermost edge of the roof.
  • With a pitch of less than 4:12, may project:
    • A maximum of 0.5 m from the surface of a roof, when the solar collector is located 5.0 m or less from a side property line, measured directly south from any point along the side property line.
    • All other cases may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of a roof.
  • With a pitch of 4:12 or greater may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of a roof.

Please refer to Section 343.1 in the Land Use Bylaw.

Multi-residential districts

A solar collector mounted on a wall:

  • Must be located a minimum of 2.4 m above grade; and
  • May project a maximum of 0.6 m from the surface of that wall.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of less than 4:12 may project from the surface of the roof:

  • A maximum of 2.0 m.
  • A minimum of 1.0 m from the edge of the roof.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of 4:12 or greater may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of the roof and must not extend beyond the outermost edge of the roof.

Please refer to Section 571.1 of the Land Use Bylaw.

Commercial, industrial and special purpose districts

A solar collector mounted on a wall:

  • Must be located a minimum of 2.4 m above grade; and
  • May project a maximum of 0.6 m from the surface of that wall.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of less than 4:12 may project from the surface of the roof a maximum of 2.0 m.

A solar collector mounted on a roof with a pitch of 4:12 or greater may project a maximum of 1.3 m from the surface of the roof and must not extend beyond the outermost edge of the roof.

Please refer to Sections 699.1; 904.1; 1019.1 of the Land Use Bylaw.

Solar Collector Placement
Solar Collector Placement


 

Please note: If a development permit is required, it must be approved before you can apply for a building permit.

Electrical rules

  1. Photovoltaic collectors require an electrical permit and must be installed by a licensed and registered electrical contractor in Calgary. Solar installers are licensed electricians that have taken additional training to understand, design and install solar PV systems. In Alberta, installers must be certified electricians or registered apprentices working under the supervision of a certified electrician that comply with the Electrician Trade Regulation 274/2000 and Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act., and any applicable trade regulations.
  2. Some electricians have an additional solar-specific certification via CSA, CSI, the North American Practitioners, and NAIT Renewable Energy Program etc. This is not required of your installer, but electricians with such certification are available in Alberta, should you wish to hire one. Visit cansia.ca and solaralberta.ca/company-directory to find solar providers and learn more about solar installation.

Plumbing and gas rules

Single wall heat exchangers can be used where there are no chemicals or non-toxic chemicals added. Refer to CSA-B214 regarding installation codes for hydronic heating systems.

Double wall heat exchangers are required when toxic chemicals have been added and allows a visible means of leak detection. The chemicals must be compatible with the heat transfer fluid. Heat transfer liquid and heat exchangers must comply with code CSA-F379.1 (Alberta Government requirements for Solar Domestic Hot Water Systems).

Since there is wide selection of solar thermal systems, all installations must be must be a packaged system, designed by an accredited engineer and have stamped drawings and heat loss calculations included with the application. They will require a plumbing permit and follow the applicable codes stated in the National Plumbing Code of Canada, CAN/CSA codes F379.1-09 (Packaged solar domestic hot water systems) and CAN/CSA-F383 (Installation of packaged solar domestic hot water systems).

Simple packaged system
Simple packaged system

When is a development permit required?

If a development permit is required, this must be applied for and approved prior to building permit and solar permit applications. Solar photovoltaic systems (commonly known as a power generation facility) will require a development permit, if they do not follow the Land Use Bylaw rules. Solar thermal collectors do not generate electricity, so they are not considered a power generation facility and usually do not require a development permit.

Development permits

When is a building permit required?

A building permit may be required to install solar collectors if the solar collector is large (approximately 10 kg/m2), since the existing structure may not have been designed to hold the additional weight.

Please refer to the Sustainable Technologies Permitting Matrix for further information.

When is a solar trade permit required?

Solar permits are required for electrical, plumbing, gas or mechanical work and can only be submitted by specific qualified contractors. This work will be inspected by safety code officers to ensure code compliance.

Solar trade permits

Below are the specific contractor application requirements for solar collectors and fee schedules:

An electrical permit will also be required for thermal collectors, if pumps are required.

For inquiries regarding specific codes mentioned, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre.

Inspection Information

All inspections for residential construction, electrical, plumbing and gas fireplace installation permits can be booked at calgary.ca/311online. When choosing the service type, scroll down to Inspection and choose your project. You will need to provide your permit number or address.

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.

Fireplace inspections

Building permit inspections

Rough-in inspections

  • Install and complete any structural changes.
  • Install and complete all the wall, ceiling, and build out framing.
  • Install fireplace as per manufacturer’s installation instructions. Do not drywall or cover until rough-in inspection has been completed
  • Have requested documentation on site.
  • Any gas lines run to a fireplace must be done on a separate gas permit.

Final inspection

This inspection is conducted at the discretion of the safety code officer. At the time of final inspection, the building permit should be complete and issued.

Air conditioning equipment inspections

Electrical permit inspections

Rough-in inspections

  • Access is required to the house to verify wiring and breaker installation.
  • 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 inspections (completed at the safety codes officer’s discretion)

  • Do not have any exposed live wiring.
  • All outlets and cover plates must be in place.
  • All branch circuits must be energized for inspection.
  • The panelboard breaker directory must be completed.
  • A permit services report will be mailed to the owner after an acceptable inspection.

Solar collector inspections

Electrical inspections

  • Submit the solar PV installation plans. Plans must be submitted before the onsite installation begins.
  • Install all solar collectors, mounting equipment, inverters and wiring.
  • Install all warning placards, wiring diagrams and system marking.
  • Access to the electrical panel that the solar PV system is connected to will be required for the inspection.
  • At least one inspection will be required to approve a residential solar PV system.
  • For more information on solar PV electrical inspections and permits, please contact the Technical Assistance Centre at 403-808-7066 or TAC@calgary.ca

Plumbing and gas inspections

  • Submit the solar thermal (hot water) plumbing plans.
  • A rough and final inspection will be required based on the installation manual of your specific system.

Mechanical inspections

  • Submit solar air installation plans. Plans must be submitted before the onsite installation begins.
  • At least one inspection will be required to approve a residential solar PV system.

Furnaces and Gas Appliance inspections

A minimum of one gas inspection is required for a furnace installation or replacement.

Homeowners should always refer to the manufacturer’s installation/operation manual for proper maintenance instructions and schedules.

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.