Hot tub: (referred to as a whirl pool in the Alberta Building Code) a pool or tub containing water at a temperature above 30°C, designed primarily for therapeutic or recreational use and is not drained, cleaned or refilled before use by each individual, and/or uses hydro jet circulation or air induction bubbles.
Swimming pool: a structure, basin or tank containing an artificially created pool of water used for swimming, recreation, bathing, diving, wading, healing, therapy, religious rituals or other purposes, and includes all buildings, equipment and facilities used in conjunction with it.
Pond: Natural or artificial body of standing water used primarily for aesthetic reasons.
What permits do I need?
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 development permit required?
A development permit may be required for your hot tub or swimming pool if it:
- Is located within the actual front setback area.
- Has a total area more than 15 per cent of your property area.
- Has any above grade components including a deck, walkway, supporting member, heater or mechanical equipment, located within 1.2 m of any property line.
Hot tub distance from property lines
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.
When is a building permit required?
A building permit is always required to install a hot tub or swimming pool, because they have the potential to affect health and safety. Ponds and other features would generally not require a building permit, unless it would pose a safety concern.
Note: Above ground swimming pools that are dismantled in the fall and put up again in the spring only require the initial building permit. If the pool is put up in the exact same spot as it was approved, you are not required to get a new permit every year.
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 trade permits
- Electrical permit: required for any hot tub or pool installation.
- Plumbing permit: generally required for pool installations.
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 obtained by calling 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. 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.
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.
If you require a development permit, these timelines vary, based on the type of application and the impacts to the community.
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.
Location of hot tubs and swimming pools
Hot tubs and swimming pools are required to be 1.2 m from side and rear property lines and may not be located in the actual front setback without a development permit.
There can be no wires over a hot tub, unless it is covered by an overhead structure. Any existing overhead wiring is required to be clear of any hot tub or swimming pool 5.0 m vertically and 5.0 m horizontally.
Hot tub distance from property lines
Hot tubs located on a deck/patio
If a hot tub is supported by a structure that elevates the floor of the hot tub above grade, such as a deck or patio, an engineer’s stamp is required, regardless of the height of the structure.
Hot tubs located in a gazebo
If you’re putting your hot tub in a gazebo that is more than 10 m2, or if the height of the gazebo floor is more than 0.6 m above ground level, the gazebo must have its own approved building permit.
If you plan to enclose a hot tub in a covered structure, such as a gazebo, accessory residential building rules will apply. Any covered structure over 10 m2 in floor area will require a building permit. Any covered structure with a finished floor 0.6 m or more above grade will require an approved development permit.
Building code requirements for swimming pools and hot tubs
As per Alberta Building Code, the water depth of a hot tub should not be more than 1.2 m measured from the hot tub floor to the water surface. The depth of water to a seat or bench in a whirlpool must not be more than 0.6 m.
Please see Form S: Swimming pools/Hot tubs for in-depth information on the building code requirements for the installation of pools and hot tubs.
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.
How to apply
Once you have determined which application(s) you will require, you can start to prepare the application requirements as outlined 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.
Hot Tub Building Permit requirement list
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 When is a trade permit required? for more information and to see if you qualify.
Find homeowner trade permit fees.
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 online at alta.registries.gov.ab.ca.
Development permit fees
Sample drawings for building permits and development permits for hot tubs and swimming pools.
Note: you will also have to provide a copy of the manufacturer’s installation specifications.
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.
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 building permits
- The hot tub must be ready to use.
- A cover constructed in conformance with ASTM F1346 and the lockable device must be installed
- The pool must be ready to use.
- Complete the fence and gates or cover constructed conformance with ASTM F1346 with the lockable device must be installed. The fence and gate requirements are listed on Form S: Swimming pools/Hot tubs.
Inspections for electrical permits
- Provide access 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.
- Ensure all wiring is 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.
A development completion permit inspection may be required if a development permit is involved in your project. Contact our 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.