Deck Permits

On this page we’ll attempt to answer and provide useful information on deck permits in Ontario.

Do I need a deck permit for my deck project?

The regulation for which projects require construction permits and which do not vary by municipality in Toronto.  You need to consult with your building department to see if you need a permit.  The common rule is, if your deck is over 2 feet above ground on average – it requires a permit.  In many cases, however, decks that are under 2 feet in average elevation still require a building permit (i.e. very large deck)

Does everyone get a permit?

Many homeowners choose not to get a building permit even if one is required.  In some cases, contractor fails to inform the homeowner about the need for a building permit.   Ultimately, the responsibility rests with the homeowner, not the contractor so you want to educate yourself about the building permits and the possible consequences of not getting a building permit.

What happens if I build without a building permit?

If you decide to build your deck without a building permit although you require one, here are some possible outcomes of what might happen:

Nothing.  The city will not find out that you have built a deck.  Your home insurance company will not find out.  You will not sell your house during the expected life of the deck or the house purchaser will not inquire on the deck permit.  No one will ever slip or fall on your deck during its lifespan.  The contractor, who built the deck without the permit, did just as good of a job as he would if the inspector was coming at various stages to inspect his work.

The city finds out you built a deck.  If it is structurally sound and complies with all zoning by-laws you can submit your drawings after the fact and sometimes face a small fine.  If the deck does not comply with the zoning-by laws you will need to go to the committee of adjustments.  If you pass the committee you will be able to get your permit given that the deck is built according to code.  If the deck was not built properly, it would either have to be fixed or completely redone (Delta Decks was involved in some projects where we had to completely rebuild a deck from scratch because it was beyond repair – i.e. improper foundation.

You may have problems when selling your house.  Without the deck permit the deck is not shown on the house plan, which is a concern for some potential home purchasers.

The contractor building your deck can cut a lot of corners and you will not even know about it.

How long does it take to get a permit?

Depending on the municipality it takes anywhere from one to three weeks to get your permit drawings approved in Ontario given that the deck complies with all applicable by-laws.  If the deck does not comply with the by-laws and you need to take your case to the committee of adjustments – this process can add anywhere from 3 months to a year depending on which part of Toronto you live in.

What does it cost to get a building permit?

The city fee for a deck building permit in Ontario is fairly minor, about a $100.  The preparation of the drawings will cost you anywhere from $300 up to over $1000 depending on the size and complexity of the job as well as who you choose to prepare the drawings on your behalf.  You can visit www.deckstoronto.com they have a permit preparation service for the do-it-yourselfers.

Can I prepare the permit drawings myself?

You may be able to prepare the drawings yourself if you are familiar with a building code and drafting.  Also, in smaller municipalities or towns further away from Toronto downtown core, we found that the building department officials have more time on their hands to guide you through the process and would accept simpler drawings.

What are the zoning by-laws for decks?

The zoning by-laws vary by municipality.  Furthermore, each municipality is divided into different zoning areas.  You need to call your building department to find out what the zoning regulations for your lot are.  If the building department is too busy to answer calls, you will have to physically go there.

What happens if the contractor builds without a permit and then it turns out that the deck was not built properly?

The homeowner will be responsible for fixing the deck and bringing it up to code.

Where can I get more information on deck permit application process and drawing preparation process?

Please contact your city building department for more information. 

Need permit drawings done?

If you are planning to build a deck yourself and just need the permit drawings done, we can help. We can help you prepare the drawings that you can take to the city to obtain your permit. Engineering fees are extra (most standard decks don't require an engineering stamp). We have 3 options for you.

BASIC E-MAIL PACKAGE. No house visit, you e-mail us your survey and requirements for what you want done along with some sketches. We prepare a set of drawings for you to take to the city. For most decks, the charge will be $499 for this service. The fee is paid 100% in advance over the phone by credit card.

We suggest you contact the building department first to make sure that your desired deck meets all zoning by laws. The zoning by-laws regulate the allowable deck size and elevation. A city representative from the planning and zoning department should give you the setback requirements for your deck over the phone once you give them your address and a quick project description.

DELUXE PACKAGE. This package includes the cost of preparation of deck drawings, a site visit in the Greater Toronto Area, and all drawings will be stamped by a licensed engineer. It does not include any city fees. Your involvement is minimal and we assist you in designing your deck during the site visit. Once the drawings are prepared, you take them to the city. For most decks, the charge will be $899 for this service. The fee is paid 50% in advance over the phone by credit card and the remaining 50% when the permit is ready for pick up.

We suggest you contact the building department first to make sure that your desired deck meets all zoning by laws. The zoning by-laws regulate the allowable deck size and elevation. A city representative from the planning and zoning department should give you the setback requirements for your deck over the phone once you give them your address and a quick project description.

EXISTING DECK PACKAGE. If you are reading this, most likely you already have a deck and the city asked that you get a permit for it. No worries, we can help you with that. We will visit your house, take careful measurement, make notes of all required details and provide you the drawings you need to apply for a permit. If the deck was built properly and its size complies with the zoning requirement - you get your permit right away. If not, we can help you bring it up to go code, so far we have had a 100% success rate with making sure that all decks that don't have permits go through the permitting process. The charge for an in-house initial consultation and a set of drawings for the existing deck is $699. The homeowner would take the drawings to the city. Any possible repairs - are extra.