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Building Maintenance Bylaw

The City of Calgary's  Building Maintenance Bylaw came into effect on January 1, 2017. The bylaw applies to buildings that are five-storeys (or more), and over 10 years old. These buildings must undergo visual assessments for repairs every five years. Assessments are completed for exterior walls and roofs. The purpose of these assessments is to proactively identify safety concerns in order to:

  • Take corrective action.
  • Reduce the risk of material/debris falling from buildings.
  • Protect the property and the public.


  • Building owners must complete a visual assessment of the roof and walls of a building:
    • 10 years after The City granted occupancy of the five-storey (or more) building.
    • Every five years of the date of the last building exterior visual assessment.
  • Individuals must be qualified with sufficient education, training, skill, and experience to perform the visual assessment of the roof and exterior walls.  
  • Requests for a building exterior visual assessment will be mailed out to building owners. 
  • A building exterior visual assessment is required to be done even when not requested.

Duty to maintain

The building owner must keep the building envelope in good repair and free from any hazardous condition. If any item is identified as "not acceptable" on the building exterior visual assessment, the following steps must be taken:

  • The building owner must correct the hazards. 
  • The City will follow up to ensure corrective action is taken. Please note: any corrective work may require a permit and inspections.
  • If an owner of a building becomes aware of the existence of a hazardous condition at the building, the owner must immediately:
    • (a) take steps to correct the hazardous condition; and
    • (b) advise the Chief Building Official in writing of the existence of the hazardous condition.

In addition,

  • The building owner must keep all assessments for the building's entire lifespan. 
  • Assessments must be made available to The City upon request. 
  • If the building is sold, the owner must provide all assessments to the new owner.
  • When appropriate, The City may request a building exterior visual assessment from the owner of a building that is less than five-storeys or less than ten years old.


  • Best practice guide - maintaining structural components for buildings

    To supplement the building exterior visual assessment, The City developed a best practice guide. It shows owners of high risk buildings how to assess and maintain the structural components of the building.

Why create a Building Maintenance Bylaw

The Building Maintenance Bylaw was developed under the guiding principle of protecting the public. This includes the risk of objects falling off tall buildings and affecting the public realm. This bylaw is a proactive approach to address safety issues before they happen.

The scope of the Building Maintenance Bylaw is focused on buildings which present the highest risk to the public. The higher the building, the more serious the risk of harm from falling debris. The older the building, the more likely it is to have experienced deterioration. 

While the building code states that a building owner may not allow an unsafe condition to exist, there is no clear requirement to proactively maintain buildings. To address this legislative gap and to enhance safety incident prevention, The City created the Building Maintenance Bylaw 33M2016, the first of its kind in Canada.

The bylaw was created to balance safety responsibilities with preventative maintenance costs. It was developed in collaboration with:

  • community members,
  • commercial and residential building industry associations, and
  • internal groups.

Frequently asked questions

Who can complete or sign for the building exterior visual assessment?

The visual assessment of the walls and roofs of a building must be performed by a person with sufficient education, training, skill and experience relating to walls such that the person’s visual assessment may reasonably be relied upon. Anyone with training and experience in the different building components can complete the building’s exterior visual assessment form. The owner may use one expert to assess the roof and another to assess the walls. These experts can be registered professionals, trained contractors, technologists, and other professionals with the qualifications to make competent assessments. The BEVA form is separated into two pages. This allows for assessments to be completed on the roof and walls separately.

The assessor’s credentials must be supplied on the bottom of each page on the BEVA form.

Can drones be used to do the exterior wall inspections?

Yes, if the owner thinks this is the best way to determine the building’s exterior integrity.

Is any destructive testing required?

Only if issues are found. Further investigation may require a more technical form of investigation to determine risk.

Where does the Building Maintenance Bylaw and the Community Standards Bylaw meet?

The Building Maintenance Bylaw is limited to buildings five-storeys and more. Tall buildings are better handled by Safety Codes Officers because of their expertise.  

Calgary’s Building Maintenance Bylaw is the first of its kind in Canada. It addresses the lack of proactive long-term maintenance of buildings. Calgary is the leading Canadian municipality in this regard. The bylaw was developed under the guiding principle of protecting the public from the risk of objects falling off tall buildings and improving the protection of people and property. This bylaw is a proactive approach to addressing the legislative gap and safety issues before they happen. The City engaged with interested parties including: 

  • the Calgary Residential Rental Association
  • Calgary Hotel Association, BOMA (Building Owners & Managers Association of Calgary) Calgary Construction Association, and
  • engineering firms. 

Does The City make money off this bylaw?

No, The City doesn’t make money off the Building Maintenance Bylaw. A building owner is independently required to complete the building exterior visual assessment.

From our research, a visual assessment would cost between $1,500 and $20,000, depending on size, age, and scope of the building. This is about 1-2% of a building owner’s five-year maintenance budget. We worked closely with building owners, operators, and industry professionals to find the right balance between safety obligations and preventative maintenance costs.

Short term, there may be additional costs if the owners have not been completing maintenance assessments regularly. Preventative maintenance saves money in the long run, and the value added is priceless.

Why does it only cover buildings five-storeys and above, or 10 years or older?

The bylaw focuses on the buildings that present the highest risk to the public. The higher the building, the more serious the risk of harm from falling debris. The older a building is, the more likely it is to have experienced deterioration. This can lead to elements detaching from buildings. The National Building Code – Alberta Edition differentiates buildings under and over five-storeys. This is because diverse and complex construction techniques and materials are needed for taller buildings.

In other locations with similar bylaws, the threshold for building assessments is set at five-storeys and up. The five-storey threshold means that implementing the program within existing working budgets is manageable.

However, The City has the authority to require other buildings comply with the bylaw. This includes those buildings that don't meet the height or age criteria.

Additional resources

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