Changes to existing buildings

Changes to existing buildings

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

Before you apply


Use this page to help guide you through submitting a complete application. We will explain when you need a permit, what permits you need, what your application requirements are and go over some common rules relating to your project.

Do you need a permit?

Building Safety Approval (Building Permit)

  • Any construction being done, including alterations, relocation, repair or demolition 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.
  • There’s a change to the business activity resulting in a new building code classification or occupant load (ex. a warehouse changes to a vehicle repair shop). Even if there is no construction planned, you may still need a building permit.
  • When upgrading or installing new mechanical equipment to meet building code (ex. 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.

For more information for when a permit is required can be found in the Permit Regulation. This regulation establishes rules governing building, fire, gas, electrical and plumbing permits.

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

Review what do you need for your building permit application for more information on preparing your application.

When do you need additional permits?

You may require additional permits depending on if it meets the rules of the Land Use Bylaw or if you are doing any additional work including electrical or plumbing.

Planning Approval (Development Permit)

Any changes to a commercial or industrial space will need to have the appropriate planning approval in place before the Building Permit can be issued. We recommend applying prior to making your building permit application.  All building permits undergo a use review upon submission to confirm that this planning approval is in place before proceeding to further review.

NOTE: If you’ve already applied for your building permit and no previous approvals have been applied for, then your building permit will remain on hold until the appropriate planning approvals have been granted.  .

A Development Permit may be required if:

  • you are changing how the space or building will be used
  • if the space does not have the appropriate planning approvals for your proposed activities
  • if you are making exterior changes that do not match the approved Development Permit for the building

Please note that Development Permits are not guaranteed to be approved.

For more information on Development Permits, read the Land use Bylaw section.

If you are unsure if you need a development permit, contact the Planning Services Centre.

Trade permits

Separate trade permits are required for each trade (ie electrical, plumbing, gas and HVAC) and will need to be applied for by the appropriate trade contractor. Read more about Hiring a contractor.

Contractors looking for more information can review the Trade Permit contractor information page for more details.

How much will it cost?

Building Safety Approval - Building Permit Fee schedule Permit fee

Varies - based on construction costs

building permit fee schedule

Use the Building permit fee calculator to estimate your fees

Planning Approval - Development Permit (if applicable) Fee schedule Permit fee Advertising fee Total
Change of Use – Permitted

planning applications fee schedule

$190 $190
Change of Use – Permitted with Relaxation OR Discretionary

planning applications fee schedule

$594 $30 $624

How do you pay for a permit?

Online submissions

For online submissions with large permit costs, there is a deposit process in place that limits the amount paid online. 

Permit fees under $10,000

Permit fees under $10,000 must be paid in full when submitting your application.

Permit fees over $10,000

For building  permit fees over $10,000, only 25% of the base permit fee will be charged as an initial deposit, up to a maximum of $10,000. If 25% of the building permit base fee exceeds $10,000, you will be contacted to make payment for the remaining permit fee balance and any applicable additional fees (i.e. partial permit, lot grades, SCC, etc.)

 For example, if 25% of the permit fee is $25,000, you will pay a $10,000 deposit online and our Cash Office will contact you the next business day to make the payment for the remaining $15,000 of the deposit.

Please note: the remaining permit fees must be paid in full prior to the partial permit of the full permit being issued. To pay the remaining total, please choose one of the payment methods listed below and reference your permit number.

Payment method Our process
By Credit Card

Additional payments can be made via credit card over the phone.

In order to make payment over the phone by credit card please call 403-268-5311.

By Cheque Cheques can be made payable to: “The City of Calgary”   Cheques can be mailed in using the mailing address below:   The City of Calgary  Attention: Planning Cashiers - 8108  PO BOX 2100 STN M  Calgary, AB  T2P 2M5 
By Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) If you would like to pay by Electronic Funds Transfer you will select the payment option upon application. No fees will be processed at the time of the application intake. The Planning Cash Office will contact you the next business day and provide you with instructions to complete the EFT payment.

In-person submissions

When submitting your application in person, payment is due upon the time of submission. There are several different methods of payment accepted for this method of submission listed below.

Payment method
By Credit/Debit Card

Payment can be made via credit and debit card at the time of submission of your application. All major credit card types are accepted.

By Cheque Cheques can be made payable to:   “The City of Calgary”   Cheques can be mailed in using the mailing address below:   The City of Calgary  Attention: Planning Cashiers- 8108  PO BOX 2100 STN M  Calgary, AB  T2P 2M5 
Cash Payment by cash is only accepted in-person. Cash payment will not be accepted if sent via mail. 

There are two payment options to choose from when applying for your permit in person:

Option 1: Submit payment for 100% of the permit fees up front.

Option 2: Pay 25% of the permit fees up front. This option is only applicable for applications over $10000. Please note, the remaining permit fees must be paid prior to the building code review and partial being issued. Applications missing fees are considered incomplete until full fees are paid.

In order to pay the remaining total, please choose one of the above payment methods and reference your permit number

How long will it take to get a permit?

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information listed on the checklist and review the information about 

Building Safety Approval - Building Permit Our Process Timeline
Interior Renovations

Application is reviewed to ensure it matches the approved development permit and reviewed for safety codes compliance

Typically, between 21 and 49 days  

*Varies based on complexity and completeness of application.

Development Permit

​Permit Type Fee schedule Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​​Total Our Process Timeline  Expiry

Permitted Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

​$190 - $190 - 5 business days 1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district
​Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use Planning applications fee schedule ​$594 ​$30 $624

60 days to decision + 21 days advertisement/appeal period

*timelines are subject to change based on circulation requirements

10-12 weeks 1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

When does your permit expire?

You will receive a permit expiry reminder in the mail. If you need more time, you can extend your permit. Review the extend or reinstate your permit section.

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Development Permit 1-2 years to begin construction
Building Permit 180 days
Contractor Trade Permit 330 days

Will you need professional involvement?

Professional architects or engineers

An architect or professional engineer may be required to design and inspect your project. Refer to the current 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).​​

What are the rules when designing your project?


The following information will help you prepare your building permit application, and make sure it meets the City’s requirements.

Where are you building?

Some rules may depend on the land use district (zone) you live in. Use the address search below to find your zone.

Land Use Bylaw information

All commercial and industrial spaces in Calgary require planning approval to ensure compliance with the City of Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw. This approval is based on the land use district (commonly referred to as zoning) and what the proposed activities of the space will be. The Land Use Bylaw also sets rules for building form, density, and location.

The Land Use Bylaw specifies a list of allowable uses for each land use district based on what the intent is for that location. Uses will be listed as either permitted or discretionary, but if the use is not listed in a land use district, that activity will not be allowed to operate from that location.

How the space is used will determine what use or uses best fit your business. Types of planning approval include Permitted Change of Use, Permitted with Relaxation Change of Use, and Discretionary Change of Use.

If you are making changes to the exterior of a building, be aware that changes to the how the building looks will often require a new Development Permit or Revised Plan. Changes to the parking or other elements of the property will require a Changes to Site Plan Development Permit. 

If you are unsure if your scope of work requires a development permit, contact the Planning Services Centre.

Permitted or Discretionary? What’s the difference?

Permitted or Discretionary? What’s the difference?

In the Land Use Bylaw, Uses are defined as either being Permitted or Discretionary in a Land Use District.

 

Permitted means that, if a use meets all the rules of the bylaw, it must be approved.  The uses listed as permitted were intended for this location and have little to no impact on the surrounding community.

 

Permitted with Relaxation means a use that is permitted but requires a relaxation of one of more bylaw rules. Evaluations are done on a case-by-case basis to determine if the relaxation is appropriate and how it impacts the surrounding community.

 

Discretionary use means that the use needs to be reviewed and is evaluated against several factors including applicable policies, appropriateness of the location, the compatibility of the use with others in the surrounding area, access, parking, servicing, and sound planning principles. Each submission is reviewed on its own merit at the time of application as discretionary uses have a higher impact on the surrounding community.

Development Permit

You may need a development permit to operate from your preferred location if your proposed business activities do not match the current approved use. This is called a change of use development permit. You  may need a development permit for other reasons, including some exterior and interior changes to the space.

Sometimes, even if your business is listed as permitted, your business activities require a relaxation to the bylaw rules. This is considered permitted with relaxation change of use and takes longer to process than a permitted change of use.

Contact the Planning Services Centre if you are unsure if the changes in operations will require new approvals.

How to apply

You can apply for your Change of Use Development Permit before, at the same time as, or after your business licence (Licence) application. We recommend applying before your Licence.

Checklists

Sample drawings

Review the sample drawings​ to help prepare your application.

Fees, timelines and expiry

​Permit Type Fee schedule Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​​Total Our Process Timeline  Expiry

Permitted Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

$190

-

$190

-

5 business days

1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

$594

$30

$624

60 days to decision + 21 days advertisement/appeal period

*timelines are subject to change based on circulation requirements

10-12 weeks

1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

*Review our Development Permit Process page for more information about the planning approval process. 

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Contact the Planning Services Center to determine the current approved "use" for your proposed address.

Alberta Building Code information

This information assists business owners and contractors understand 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 National Building Code - Alberta Edition, 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 also known as the National Fire Code (Alberta Edition). 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 National Building Code (Alberta Edition). To help explain this material, the Alberta Safety Codes Council created a barrier-free design guide.

Access Design Standard - is required to be applied ONLY on City of Calgary owned / operated facilities – please speak with the project manager for the City owned project you are working on for details

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.

How to prepare your application?


1.     Prepare the application details

You will need to know:

  • The project address
  • Who is applying (the contractor, designer, architect, owner, etc)
  • What is the proposed scope of work
  • Project details, including the size and classification of the building

2.     Prepare the required documents and plans

Which checklist should you use?

What changes are you making to the space?

Some projects may qualify for quick release. The checklists below outline which projects may be considered for quick release.:

Note: Quick release applications are still required to undergo a Land Use review to confirm that planning approval has been obtained for the changes to the space. If the Land Use review is not met, planning approval will need to be obtained. Review the Land Use Bylaw information for more details.

Apply


Tips for a Smooth Application Process

Before you apply

Download the checklist and check each application requirement as you prepare to submit your application. Items listed on the checklist are the minimum requirements. We might need more information after we review your application.

Provide all required documents on the checklist, including drawings, supporting material, and any additional forms. If you are not sure if something is required, contact the Planning Services Center

Use Sample Drawings to review what you need to include on your plans

Double check your documents are completed and make sure you have all required items on your plans before you upload them

After you apply

The Planning Services Centre may contact you for more information required for your application. Follow-up on requests for more information as quickly as possible. 

Use the Job Access Code (JAC) to check status updates for your application on calgary.ca/vista

  • You’ll get a JAC by e-mail after you’ve submitted your application. If you did not receive a JAC number, contact the Planning Services Center.
  • Checking your application’s status using your JAC will provide you with timely updates about the status of your application

What is a Complete Application?

An application for a permit may be refused if, within ninety (90) days from the date of receipt, adequate information and documentation is not supplied as requested by the Safety Codes Officer. Should a permit be considered for refusal the applicant will be given notification in writing and 30 days to resubmit the missing information. For more information, please review Building Advisory A19-002 Building Permit Complete Application.

Where can you apply for your permits?

Apply Online

To apply online, you need a myID account. Create a myID account.

Apply in Person

To apply online, you need a myID account. Create a myID account.

Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre.

After you Apply


How to check the status of your permit

After you submit your application online, you will get a confirmation email with a Job Access Code (JAC).

To track your application and check its status, enter your Job Access Code in Vista.

If you need help or have questions, contact our Planning Services Centre

What Inspections do you need?

Building permit inspections you will need

Commercial Building Permits

Please note that the inspection process is dynamic, and an inspection outcome depends on the construction method and site conditions at time of inspection.

Please contact the Technical Assistance Centre for more information. or visit Building Inspections.

If you’ve applied for the following trade permits, you will need these inspections:

Electrical trade permits

Please note that the inspection process is dynamic, and an inspection outcome depends on the construction method and site conditions at time of inspection.

Please contact the Technical Assistance Centre for more information. or visit Building Inspections.

Plumbing trade permits

What you need to complete before you call for each plumbing inspection:

Rough-in inspection

  • Install and complete all plumbing drainage and venting.
  • Install and connect water lines to the rest of the water distribution system.
  • Properly support all drains, vents, and water lines.
  • Install the bathtub/shower valve.

Final inspection

  • Install and ensure all fixtures and equipment are ready for use.
  • Ensure the bathtub and shower water temperature does not exceed 49 degrees Celsius.
  • Seal all piping designed for future fixtures with an approved plug or cap.
  • Provide a shut off valve for all toilets.

HVAC/Mechanical trade permit

Following an inspection, The City’s safety codes officer (SCO) may identify corrective action to comply with the National Building Code (Alberta Edition). In place of a re-inspection, the SCO may provide an option to submit a verification of compliance (VOC).

Inspection information

How do you book your inspections?

All contractors can book inspections online through the Inspections Booking System.

Our enhanced Inspections Booking System provides a more streamlined experience for contractors to better manage their inspections. Contractors can book, reschedule or cancel their inspections all through the online tool.

Please note, inspections can be booked up to 10 business days in advance and occur Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The City continues to do our best to accommodate booking requests, however some dates may be unavailable due to inspection capacity.

Do I require an occupancy inspection?

An occupancy permit​ is the final approval indicating that the building is safe to occupy. The building safety codes officer will review the scope of work to determine if an occupancy permit is required. If required, the building safety codes officer will provide an application for occupancy form to the general contractor at the time of inspection. If occupancy is granted, the building inspector will leave the signed occupancy permit with the contractor on site. New businesses will need to arrange for a business licence after they have received their occupancy permit. ​​

Visit Building inspections for information on how to book an inspection, cancel or reschedule, permit expiry and the applicable requirements for each inspection type.

What to do if you want to make changes?

What happens if you need to extend your permit?


Planning Services Centre

We’re currently experiencing higher than seasonal application volumes, we apologize for delays. To check the status of your permit, go to vista.calgary.ca and enter in your Job Access Code (JAC) number

Hours:
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15p.m. (MT)

Live chat:
calgary.ca/livechat

Call:
403-268-5311

In person:
Whitehorn Multi-Services Centre
3705 35 Street N.E.


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. ​