Lot Grading & Positive Lot Drainage
The Lot Grading Bylaw ensures all new residential or commercial buildings have a properly graded lot with surface water drainage directed away from buildings.
Both the public and industry are required to adhere to bylaws pertaining to grading and drainage in order to manage surface water effectively but also for regulatory purposes that include protecting our stormwater system and ensuring water quality.
Why is lot grading important?
A properly graded lot ensures that surface drainage flows away from buildings, avoiding potential flooding problems and subsequent property damage. Improper lot grading can result in ponding, basement dampness, and flooding on private property. If drainage on a lot is improperly managed, it can also have negative impacts to public infrastructure, including parks, pathways, and the underground storm system.
Who is responsible?
Property owners are responsible for all activities on their lot, including establishing and maintaining Positive Lot Drainage. During the construction phase of new homes, the builder does play a role, under the direction of the property owner, to establish Positive Lot Drainage (see below).
What is positive lot drainage?
Positive Lot Drainage involves contouring the land to direct the flow of surface water away from building foundations and toward the street, lane, or Swale without adversely affecting adjacent properties or public infrastructure.
Example of Postive Lot Drainage - click to enlarge image
How is Positive Lot Drainage Achieved?
There are many routine maintenance activities that a property owner should undertake to ensure Positive Lot Drainage. There are also guiding principles and rules that should be followed during the installation of any new landscape or hardscape projects (decks, patios and sidewalks). Property owners should ensure that they seek advice and services from skilled professionals for lot grading activities outside of their knowledge and skill ability.
To support property owners, builders and landscape professionals in developing and maintaining positive lot drainage, the City of Calgary has developed The Guide to Lot Drainage, which outlines roles and responsibilities, as well as tools available to maintain positive lot drainage for low density residential developments.
How is Lot Grading Regulated by the City?
The City of Calgary establishes processes, guidance and ensures compliance with applicable bylaws and regulations to protect people, the environment, public infrastructure. Through the development and construction process of new homes, the City monitors compliance with applicable Bylaws.
Following the completion of the new construction/development process, the City has a limited role in lot grading, unless it relates to a specific bylaw infraction.
The City of Calgary does not mediate neighbor to neighbor disputes between property owners or monitor lot grading or landscape modifications once the development process is complete.
What do I do if I have Lot Grading Issues?
Property owners can refer to Guidelines for Homeowners: Resolving a Lot Drainage Issue to understand their options when they are experiencing a lot drainage issue. The City does not offer/conduct mediation services. If a property owner is having a dispute with a neighbor related to a drainage issue, they can contact Calgary Mediating Services if they are unable to resolve it amongst themselves.
What Role does the Builder Play?
The builder is responsible for the design and construction of individual lot grades and drainage, in compliance with applicable bylaws, including the Lot Grading Bylaw. Builder obligations with respect to the Lot Grading Bylaw are outlined below.
If a home is being constructed as part of a new subdivision, the developer also plays a role. Refer to the attached table to understand developer and builder roles depending upon the type of development.
Lot Grading Bylaw
The Lot Grading Bylaw ensures, that at the time of construction completion, all new residential or commercial buildings have a properly graded lot with surface water drainage directed away from buildings. The Builder is responsible for fulfilling the requirements of this bylaw.
What does the Bylaw mean for builders and contractors?
The bylaw affects the construction of a duplex, semi-detached or single-detached dwelling; a multifamily development; and any building on a commercial or industrial site in Calgary.
Builders must supply an As Constructed Grade Certificate at the end of construction, confirming the surface elevation and grades of the land are within the lot grading tolerance guidelines as outlined in the Lot Grading Bylaw. Certificates must be signed by a professional land surveyor, engineer or architect.
The Builder must submit the As Constructed Grade Certificate within 12 months of occupancy. Property Owners should not landscape the lot until grades are confirmed.
Submit documentation to:
Via email: LotGrading@calgary.ca
Please note: This email is only for the submission of As-Constructed Grade Slips as required by the Lot Grading Bylaw. Inquiries about the submission, fees, or other planning matters should be directed to 311. This email is not actively monitored and no replies should be expected.
The City of Calgary, Water Services
P.O. Box 2100, Station M #334, Calgary, AB
Application fees, required tolerances, and other details are included in the Lot Grading Bylaw.
How do I get an As Constructed Grade Certificate?
An As-Constructed Grade Certificate is available from a professional land surveyor, professional engineer or architect.
Duplex, semi-detached or single-detached dwelling
A builder must submit an As Constructed Grade Certificate to The City within 12 months of the date of Permission to Occupy as issued by the City. Buyers should note that Permission to Occupy may differ from Possession Date agreed to by the Builder.
Multi-family housing development or single building on commercial site
A builder must submit a certificate within 12 months after an Occupancy Permit is issued.
More than one building on a multi-family housing or commercial site
A builder must submit a certificate within 12 months of the last Permission to Occupy. This applies only if construction has not begun on a subsequent building on that parcel of land within that period of time.
What happens if builders don't comply with the Bylaw?
Builders who fail to submit their As Constructed Grade Certificates on time and who have not applied for an extension can be fined up to $10,000. Failure to pay the fine could result in up to six months in jail. These penalties are standard for a City of Calgary bylaw.
More information and sample forms
For more Lot Grading and Positive Lot Drainage information or to obtain sample forms contact 311.