Single detached dwelling: a building containing one dwelling unit and may include a secondary suite in districts where suites are a listed use.
Semi-detached dwelling: a building that contains two dwelling units located side by side, and separated by a common wall extending from foundation to roof.
Contextual dwelling: a housing option in the developed area of Calgary which adheres to design guidelines, allows no relaxations, and is restricted in size and placement by adjacent properties.
Duplex: a building which contains two dwelling units, one located above the other, each having a separate entrance.
Before you start
A development permit is only required for a new home in a developing district if your project does not meet the rules of the Land Use Bylaw. Homes built in developed districts always require an approved development permit prior to applying for a building permit. To find out your land use district, enter your address into the property information tool.
If you already know your project does not require a development permit, visit calgary.ca/newhomebp.
Building permits are always required for new home construction.
Things to consider before applying
Land use district
Commonly referred to as zoning, the land use district of a property must allow for the proposed construction. Low density residential districts and certain multi-residential districts list single detached, semi-detached and duplex dwellings as allowable uses. If a use is not listed in a district, a land use redesignation is required to proceed with development. You can confirm the land use district of a property using the property information tool. Listed uses for each land use district can be viewed in the interactive Land Use Bylaw at lub.calgary.ca.
Is subdivision required for your project? Depending on the type of structure being built, subdivision may take place before or after development permit application. In some instances, you can apply for subdivision after your structure has been built, but it is beneficial to initiate this process prior to applying for your development permit. Visit calgary.ca/subdivision for more information.
If there is an existing house on the property to be demolished or removed, a demolition permit must be applied for before a new house building permit application can be submitted. Demolition permits are not required prior to a development permit application.
Once the development permit has been approved, the building permit can be applied for; however, construction cannot begin until the development permit has been released.
Discretionary versus contextual
The first step in the process is to confirm your land use district and if you require a development permit. The two different application types to consider in developed districts are contextual and discretionary
Contextual applications follow a strict set of design guidelines, with no relaxations to the Land Use Bylaw allowed. This speeds up processing time, but offers less design flexibility. Applications for contextual dwellings are permitted uses and may not be refused by The City or appealed by the public, so long as they meet all bylaw requirements. Learn more at calgary.ca/contextual.
Discretionary applications allow designs outside the contextual requirements and may include relaxations to the Land Use Bylaw. This type of application reduces certainty of approval and increases processing time, but allows for more flexibility in the placement and design of the house.
The application process
Follow the applicable requirement list and present a complete application to the Planning Services Centre. Each form must be printed, completed and submitted with the plans and other requirements.
Development permits for new homes can also be applied for online. For more information, visit calgary.ca/ePermit.
Once you have submitted an application
File manager review
A senior planning technician is assigned to each development permit and will be the file manager for the duration of the application. The file manager will conduct a thorough review of the project, prior to the application being noticed posted.
A bylaw check is conducted concurrently with the file manager’s review. If there are any discrepancies, they will be sent to the applicant by the file manager in the form of a detailed team review.
A development permit application for a new discretionary dwelling will be noticed posted during the application process. A sign is posted on site for seven calendar days, giving the neighborhood an opportunity to express questions or concerns. This process occurs prior to a decision being made by the development authority. During this period, any comments should be directed to the file manager. On the sign, you will find the file managers contact information, the deadline for comments and the proposed use for the building. Written, formal objections must include a reason for the objection and the objector’s name and address.
After the file manager’s review the application will be circulated to affected stakeholders. For discretionary applications, this will occur alongside notice posting. Stakeholders are unique to each application. They are determined by site conditions and application type, and may include community associations, the councillor, utility companies or affected City departments. Permitted applications are only circulated to affected utility companies and the councillor for information purposes.
Plans for active projects are available to the public. Your community association will have the plans available for viewing. Alternatively, you may contact the file manager to request the plans be made available at the Planning Records Centre, located on the third floor of the Calgary Municipal Building. If you are unsure of the file manager or their contact information, call the Planning Services Centre 403-268-5311.
After the release of a development permit application, drawings can be viewed through the Planning Records Centre. A request can be made by calling 311.
If the application has been refused by the development authority, the applicant has 14 calendar days from the notification of the decision to appeal the refusal.
For information on the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board and filing an appeal, visit calgarysdab.ca.
The public notification of approved development permits are advertised in the Calgary Herald. Only discretionary applications or those requiring relaxation will be advertised. Interested parties are given two weeks to appeal the approval through the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. Visit calgary.ca/publicnotices to view a list of currently advertised development permits.
After your development permit has completed advertising and met any prior-to-release conditions, it will be released the next business day. After release, the project cannot be appealed.
We’re committed to providing you with a timely response on your permit application.
Development permit timelines for new homes vary based on the complexity of the proposal and the impacts on the surrounding community. Discretionary development permits will take additional processing time, as they generally require additional circulations and are advertised to the public. Additionally, amendments to drawings are often requested by the file manager. Delayed responses by the applicant to these requests can extend the standard processing timelines.
Commencement of Development
After a development permit is approved by The City, the applicant has a set date to start construction which is referred to as the date of commencement. The date is set at two to three years after approval, depending on the land use district. The date of commencement can be found on the permit documents. If significant construction has not begun by this date, the application will enter a lapsed status. A new application, including full application fees, will be required to move forward with the development.
To avoid entering lapsed status, an extension of commencement may be applied for before the development permit expires. The period of eligibility for extension of commencement is 90 to 30 days prior to expiry. So, applications for extension will not be accepted prior to 90 days or after 30 days to expiry.
An extension of commencement:
- is not a new development permit
- may or may not be granted, at the discretion of the Development Authority acting on behalf of the general manager
- may be applied for a maximum of twice per application (for a total of two years)
- if granted, will require commencement one year from the expiry date
- if denied, will require a new development permit application with applicable fees
- may not be appealed through the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board
If a building permit requires an extension, this is applied for separately. Extension of commencement applies only to the development permit.
Off-site levies are paid to The City of Calgary to help with the cost of off-site infrastructure (not located or occurring at the site of construction). Examples of this off-site infrastructure include water and wastewater treatment facilities, major roads, bridges and traffic signals. This levy is charged on new homes, if a levy has not previously been paid on a property. For more information, visit calgary.ca/offsitelevy
Service grades and grade slips
A residential grades fee is charged on all development permits for new homes. Residential grades (service grades) determine the geodetic point (height) at which underground utilities enter and exit a parcel of land. This ensures sanitary, storm and sewer lines all flow in the proper direction (i.e. water flows into the building, waste flows out). A grade slip is generated once the development permit is submitted and is sent to the applicant when completed.
In most cases, service grades are applied for at the same time as the development permit; however, an applicant has the option to apply for service grades prior to making a development permit application. This may be of benefit as sewer grades, storm grades and water locations will be available prior to producing design drawings.
Service grades are not to be confused with lot grades, which ensure proper surface drainage on a site.
Tree protection policy
Tree protection during construction is important, as often times trees that are injured will not show signs of decline until as late as 10 years after the damage. A tree protection plan is required when a public tree is within six meters of the construction. A public tree disclosure statement must be submitted at the time of development dermit application.
For more information, visit the tree protection page.
Development completion permits and securities
Development completion permits
Development completion permits for low density residential uses are automatically generated. Development inspections take place twice during the construction process, to ensure the building is being built according to the approved development permit. When these inspections are accepted and the conditions of the development permit have been met, the inspector will complete the development completion permit.
In some circumstances and at the discretion of the development authority, a security deposit may be accepted to allow the occupancy of a building prior to the development being completed. For example, the interior of a home may be ready for occupancy, but the cladding or landscaping cannot be completed immediately.
Once the development is complete, the site will be inspected and the security funds will be returned if the site complies with the approved development permit. In the event the development is not completed, The City may utilize the security funds held to complete the outstanding work on the site, bringing it into compliance.
For more information, visit development completion permits.
Flood hazard areas
The Land Use Bylaw specifies three different flood hazard levels: floodway, flood fringe and overland flow. To determine whether a property is within one of these areas, consult the online map tool. Design requirements and restrictions vary depending on the flood hazard level of your property.
Rules for properties within flood hazard areas:
- No new buildings or other new structures are allowed within the floodway, however existing dwellings and secondary suites may be replaced on the same building footprint.
- No alterations can be made to a floodway or any structures (i.e. decks, fences, berms, etc.) within a floodway, unless they are constructed by, or on behalf of, The City for the purpose of erosion control (to protect public infrastructure).
- Generally, all buildings must be setback the greater of the following distances:
- 6.0 m from the edge of the floodway
- 60.0 m from the edge of the Bow River
- 30.0 m from the edge of the Elbow River, Nose Creek or West Nose Creek
- Contextual dwellings are no longer permitted in the floodway.
- All new houses will require a backflow valve if located in the floodway, flood fringe or overland flow areas.
- All new houses must build the main floor level and any mechanical and electrical equipment above the flood level.
A more comprehensive list of municipal restrictions placed on lands designated floodway, flood fringe or overland flow can be viewed in Part 3, Division 3 of the Land Use Bylaw.
Water Resources has issued this letter advising on risk mitigation.
If constructing a new home in a flood hazard area, The City recommends setting up a pre-application meeting to discuss your project, prior to formal permit application. Contact the Planning Services Centre to set up your pre-application meeting.
Provincial approvals may also be required to build within designated flood areas or along rivers. Contact the provincial government toll-free at 310-0000.
Airport Vicinity Protection Area
The Airport Vicinity Protection Area is an Alberta regulation that limits the development in areas near the airport and its runways. If your property is in the protected area, visit Airport Vicinity Protection for more information on how this regulation may affect your development.
Landfill setbacks are restrictions on property development for areas close in proximity to an active or non-operating landfill. These restrictions exist to prevent undesirable groundwater seepage into new developments.
New houses are one of the prohibited uses when located within landfill setbacks and must not be within:
- 450 m of the working area of a landfill or the disposal area of a non-operating hazardous waste facility.
- 300 m of the disposal area of a landfill or the working area of an operating storage site.
If any part of the house falls within the landfill setback area, the building is considered to be within the setback.
For more information visit landfill setbacks.
The site contamination form is required when applying for a new house development permit. It is a statement made by the applicant, declaring whether site contamination has been caused by current or historic activities.
The abandoned wells form is required when applying for a new house development permit. It identifies any existing abandoned wells on a property being developed. It is submitted along with a map that confirms either the presence or absence of abandoned wells.
A revised plan application is for minor changes to an approved and released development permit. Depending on the type of changes, a revised plan application or a new development permit may be required. This decision is made by a file manager once the application has been reviewed. A revised plan application will only be approved if, in the opinion of the development authority, there are no substantive changes to the originally approved development permit.
The fee for revised plans is 50 per cent of the current base fee for that application type. Upon review of a revised plan application, a new development permit may be required and no refund or transfer of fees will be given.
To make a revised plan application, see the Revised Plan application requirement list.
If constructing a new home in a restrictive area, The City recommends setting up a pre-application meeting to discuss your project prior to formal permit application. Contact our Planning Services Centre to set up your pre-application meeting.
Suggestions for a successful application
Different developments present different opportunities and challenges. To maximize your odds of approval, consider taking the following steps:
- Contact the directly-affected neighbours and discuss your proposal with them, prior to making application.
- When building in developed areas, have an understanding of the applicable community’s area redevelopment plan. This document provides a framework for redevelopment within a community. If relaxations of the Land Use Bylaw are required for your new build, have a rationale prepared for the required relaxations. To view current community plans, visit calgary.ca/planningpublications.
- Prior to formally submitting your application, consider a a pre-application meeting. You have the option to meet with a planner or planning technician to discuss your proposal and identify any major obstacles or opportunities. These meetings are not for general inquiries. The applicant must have a proposal ready to present. Pre-application meetings can be requested by contacting our Planning Services Centre.
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.