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Alterations to existing buildings

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​As of June 1, all commercial building permit approvals will be electronic.

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Information |  We're going green!

​As of June 1, all commercial building permit approvals will be electronic.

​​Interior and exterior renovations, structural changes, interior demolition, leasehold improvements, parkade repairs, racking, and alterations to fire alarms and sprinklers

This information assists business owners and contractors in applying for a building permit. Even if there is no construction planned, a building permit may still be required for new business activities or a business changing ownership.

A development permit may be required, before applying for a building permit. If you are unsure if you need a development permit first, contact the Planning Services Centre.

When is a permit required?


A building permit is required when:

  • There’s a change to the business activity resulting in a new building code classification or occupant load (e.g. a warehouse changes to a vehicle repair shop)
  • Any construction is being done, including alterations to structural and non-structural walls. If you’re making changes to mechanical, plumbing, gas or electrical work, you may need a building permit and additional trade permits.
  • When upgrading or installing new mechanical equipment to meet building code (e.g. a car detailing business to an engine repair business; using a forklift in a warehouse may require additional ventilation; adding or modifying cooking equipment)
  • You are the first tenant in a new building
  • Alberta Health Services must review the application; some examples are restaurants, daycares, pools, hair salons, massage centers, tattoo parlors, and nail salons

A building permit is NOT required when the above criteria does not apply to your application, and the scope is cosmetic (painting or furniture).

How to apply


Step 1: Review the checklist and rules

If you are unfamiliar with submitting an application, or have not previously submitted one, please visit Additional Information.

Step 2: Prepare your application

To help plan your project:

Fees

​​ ​Building Safety Approval - Building Permit
​Alteration to existing building ​​Please use the Building permit fee calculator​ to estimate your fee.

For online submissions with large permit costs, there is a deposit process in place that limits the amount paid online. For base building permit fees (Permit Fee) over $10,000, the deposit required to begin processing your application will be indicated as the deposit at the fee step in the online application. The remaining total building permit fee must be paid prior to permit issuance. You may complete your payment by mailing it to:

City of Calgary
Planning Cash Office
MC 8108
PO Box 2100 Stn M
Calgary, AB T2P 2M5

Please include your building permit number on the cheque and envelope.

Step 3: Apply

Apply online

Review The City’s criteria​ for information on how to organize your plans and documents when uploading to the online application.

In person
Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment.

Step 4: Inspections

There are several options available for booking an electrical inspection. Download the 311 mobile app, visit 311 online services or phone 311. Your permit number, address and contact information will be required. Requests for next day inspection service must be made before 2 p.m. on a business day.

Alberta Building Code information


This information assists business owners and contractors in understanding and implementing general Alberta Building Code requirements for commercial building permits. Commercial spaces must comply with the Land Use Bylaw as well as minimum requirements established in the Alberta Building Code, including applicable standards for safety of the public and building occupants, health, accessibility, energy, fire, and structural integrity. Commercial spaces must also comply with the Alberta Fire Code. Businesses are responsible for following the rules and regulations of all applicable governing bodies prior to using the space.

Business owners and contractors should consult a design professional before financially committing to a location. The cost to make necessary upgrades or changes may be expensive. The City of Calgary does not determine who should coordinate or pay for upgrades.

Some activities have very specific code requirements, including restaurants.

Building code classification

Business activities are associated with a type of occupancy and governing building classification in the Alberta Building Code. Classification is determined by building size (footprint area and number of storeys), construction type (wood or concrete and steel), the need for a sprinkler and fire alarm system, and type of occupancy.

Depending on how the building is classified, changes and upgrades may be necessary to accommodate the proposed activity. For example, a building without sprinklers may be suitable for a retail store, but not suitable for a restaurant when taking into consideration the size, construction type, and mechanical ventilation.

Knowing the building classification will assist with design and construction, by helping to determine:

  • Fire ratings of walls, floors, mezzanines and roofs
  • Construction type (combustible, non-combustible or combination of both)
  • If sprinkler and fire alarm systems are required

The Alberta Building Code also determines:

  • Maximum occupant load
  • Barrier free accessibility and washroom design
  • Required exiting
  • Fire alarm and detection requirements

Due to the complexity of interpreting the classification, you may need to engage with a consultant that can conduct a building code analysis in order to identify the building classification and the rules related to that class before preparing your plans and documents.

Ensure your building classification is clearly indicated on your plans. Providing this information reduces delays in your application review.

Code classification descriptions

On your building permit application, you must indicate one of the following building occupancies:

Assembly: a space (e.g. arena, theatre, restaurant, day care) where people gather for civic, political, travel, religious, social, educational, recreational or similar purposes, including consumption of food or drink

Detention:  a space where people are held under restraint or are not self-sufficient due to security measures

Care: a space (e.g. hospital, assisted living, nursing home) where medical treatments occur, including surgery, intensive care, and emergency medical intervention; OR a space where daily patient/resident monitoring and support occurs to assess daily functioning and cognitive awareness; the facility may also book appointments for residents, provide reminders of those appointments, provide supervision pertaining to medications and nutrition, and intervene in the event of an emergency

Residential: a space that includes sleeping accommodations such as an apartment or hotel; please note this category excludes sleeping accommodations for the purpose of care, treatment and/or involuntary detention

Personal Service/Office/Business: a space (e.g. banks, beauty salons, dental offices, medical offices) used for business transactions, including provision of professional or personal services

Mercantile/Retail: a space including, but not limited to, exhibition halls, department stores and markets that are used to display or sell retail goods

Industrial: a space used for the assembly, fabrication, manufacture, processing, repair or storage of goods and materials

Please see the Alberta Building Code for exact wording of each category. The above information is intended to provide a general summary.

Barrier-free design

Codes addressing accessibility, or barrier-free design, allow safe access to buildings and facilities for all people. Reasonable access to facilities is required to ensure that everyone has the same opportunities to be active, independent and safe within the community.

The rules for barrier-free design are in section 3.8 of the Alberta Building Code. To help explain this material, the Alberta Safety Codes Council created a barrier-free design guide.

The City of Calgary has Access Design Standards that exceed those of the Alberta Building Code. Although mandatory for City buildings, we encourage design and building professionals to implement these standards in all projects.

If you need clarification on specific barrier-free requirements or exceptions contact the Technical Assistance Centre or 311.

If the physical layout of the building makes it difficult to provide barrier-free access and/or facilities, you can apply for a relaxation with Alberta Municipal Affairs.

National Energy Code of Canada for buildings

If you are constructing a new building or an addition (including second floors and mezzanines), your design will need to comply with the National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings (NECB) or the Alberta Building Code section 9.36​.

Buildings that were constructed to meet the National Energy Code still require compliance when undergoing renovations or improvements. This may include:

  • Building envelope: requirements for roofs, walls and windows to control heat loss and air leaks.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): efficiency of heating and cooling equipment
  • Water heating: efficiency of equipment and controls
  • Lighting: number and type of lighting fixtures and controls

Visit National Energy Code of Canada for Buildings for more information about how it may affect your business. To discuss NECB or 9.36 requirements, contact the Technical Assistance Centre or 311.

Additional information


See the sections below for assistance with your application.

Preparing your application

The building permit checklist will indicate the plans and documents that are required. Plans need to include enough detail to clearly convey the entire scope of intended work, and include information needed to guide the construction process. All areas covered by the Alberta Building Code including mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, washrooms and fire ratings should be included in your plans. Submitting a comprehensive set of plans will result in a specific and accurate review process, leading to efficient approval of the building permit application.

Consider hiring someone to draft your plans if you are unable produce acceptable plans and documents.

Professional architects or engineers

An architect or professional engineer may be required to design and inspect your project. Refer to the Alberta Building Code, Division C, Section 2.4.2 or a consultant to determine if professional involvement is required. Where professional involvement is required, plans or documents must be stamped by the corresponding professional(s).

Revisions and resubmissions

You will need to provide The City with updated plans if making changes to your application after submission, or if on-site changes are required during construction.

Some building permit revisions may require Land Use Bylaw approval before submitting a building permit revision. Land use approval may be required in the form of a Revised Plan or new Development Permit. If you are unsure if your change requires a revised plan or development permit, please contact your file manager.

Before a permit has been approved:
Log in, email-in or drop off your new plans for the plans examiner to review with your application. Make sure your new plans clearly show the proposed changes. There is a Revision checklist  available to assist you.

  • Submit by logging in through our online service. Please choose the Revisions/ Resubmissions and Inspection Documents button, then enter your Building Permit number
  • Submit by email; please include your Building Permit number.
  • Submit in person at the Planning Services Centre permit pick-up area. Please have your plans and Building Permit number with you.

In most cases, hourly revision fees are not charged if the permit has not been issued, but if the project construction costs increase, you will have to pay the difference in the permit fee.

After a permit has been approved:
Log in or come to the counter with your revisions. Make sure your new plans clearly show the proposed changes. There is a Revision checklist available to assist you.

  • Submit by logging in through our online service​. Please choose the Revisions/ Resubmissions and Inspection Documents button, then enter your Building Permit number
  • Submit in person at the Planning Services Centre permit check-in area. Please have your plans and Building Permit number with you. To skip the line, book an appointment.

There is a fee associated with revisions if the permit is already approved. Commercial and multi-family revision fees are calculated at an hourly rate. The number of hours is determined by the safety codes officer reviewing the plans. Please contact the safety codes officer that issued your permit to confirm the revision fee. If the project construction costs increase, you will also have to pay the difference in the permit fee.

Submitting inspection documents

Speak to the site inspector to determine if you need to submit inspection documents. If inspection documents are required, log in or visit the Planning Services Centre with the documents.

  • Submit by logging in through our online s​ervice. Please choose the Revisions/ Resubmissions and Inspection Documents button, then enter your Building Permit number.
  • Submit in person at the Planning Services Centre permit pick-up area. Please have your plans and Building Permit number with you.

There are no fees associated with submitting these documents.

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.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​