Building Services

Building Services

House Construction

Construction / Renovation / Demolition

Standards for health, safety, accessibility, and energy and water efficiency in buildings are set out in the BC Building Code.  Provisions for local administration of the BC Building Code within the City of Port Alberni are found in the Building Bylaw.

To keep Port Alberni safe and livable, the City reviews permit applications, and enforces regulations in a fair and consistent manner.  Trying to avoid getting a permit to save money can end up costing you time, and money. If you are unsure whether or not you need a permit, please contact the Building Inspector for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Do I need to apply for a Building Permit? What type of Permit?

Prior to starting any stage of your project, including excavation or demolition, you must obtain the required permit(s).  Building Permits are designed to address life and safety issues of the occupants and users of those buildings or structures.  If you intend to do any one or more of the following you will need the necessary permits from the City Building Inspector:

  1. If your project falls within a Development Permit Area you may need a Development Permit.  The Building Inspector will not issue a Building Permit for a project which does not already have a required  Development Permit.  
  2. Construct, repair or alter a building or structure,  including retaining walls over 1.5 metres in height, swimming pools and hot tubs. You will need either a Standard or a Complex Building Permit. 
  3. Move a building or structure. More information - Extraordinary Traffic Permits.
  4. Demolish a building or structure. More information - Demolition Permits.
  5. Change or install signage. More information - Sign Permits.
  6. Change or install plumbing fixtures or equipment. More information - Plumbing Permits.
  7. Use or occupy a newly constructed building. See Occupancy Permits.
  8. Authorize an existing Secondary Suite or build a new Secondary Suite. More information - Secondary Suite Authorization Permits.
If you intend to do any one or more of the following you will need a permit from the appropriate agency:

Note: If your project will require a Development Permit or a Zoning Bylaw amendment for the property, you must obtain these approvals through the City Planning Department before your Building Permit Application will be considered.   

All Building and Demolition Permits are subject to the following:

  1. WorkSafe BC requires a survey for hazardous materials be completed before any demolition work begins.
  2. The BC Building Code requires that a  Work Site Fire Safety Plan  be prepared and submitted prior to the commencement of demolition, construction or alteration operations
  3. The City of Port Alberni requires that an application be made for decommissioning of City services (water, sanitary and storm sewer connections) prior to demolition.  If a rebuild is planned after demolition, the City services may be recertified at the same time.

Building Permits are not required for minor repairs or alterations to non-structural components of a building. If you are not sure what permit/s you need consult the Building Inspector.  If you need a building permit, you will likely need at least one "trades" related permit (gas, electrical, plumbing, signage or other).

Disclaimer of Warranty or Representation

Neither the issuance of a permit under the Building Bylaw, the review and acceptance of the design, drawings, plans or specifications, nor inspections made by a Building Official, shall constitute a representation or warranty that the Building Code or the Bylaw have been complied with or the Building or Structure meets any standard of materials or workmanship.

Do I need a Development Permit?
Depending on the location of the work proposed, the property zoning, and other factors, you may also need to obtain a Development Permit prior to applying for a Building Permit.   To check if your property falls within a Development Permit Area consult the Schedule B Development Permit Areas Map in the Official Community Plan.  A Building Permit will not be granted for a project which does not already have a required  Development Permit.     
 
Development Permits address issues of community planning, bylaws, land use, image, and compatibility.  Also note that a project involving a change in the land use may require additional applications and public process that you are advised to take into consideration when planning your project.  When undertaking a new project, it is strongly recommended that you consult with the City Planner (250-720-2808) to find out what types of permits you will need.    See also Development and Community Planning.
How do I apply for a Permit?

You will first need to obtain the appropriate Application Forms online or from the Building Inspector's office at City Hall (downstairs with the Engineering and Planning Departments).   

  1. Ensure your application is complete.  (Use the checklist on your application form or the general one provided below to help you).
  2. For all Building and Land Use applications the City of Port Alberni requires that you submit, with your application, a current (within 30 days) Land Title search for ALL properties and legal parcels affected by your application.
  3. Ensure that ALL owners listed on the property Title, and the applicant have signed the application and that the agent declaration statement is signed. 
  4. Submit all required attachments with your application.
  5. Prior to issuing your Building Permit the Building Inspector will calculate the fee owing. You will need to verify your fees with the Building Inspector before you submit them.  Note: Permit fees are based on a number of factors that can vary from project to project.  

General Checklist of documents to include with a Standard Building Permit Application:

  • Land Title (must be no more than 30 days old)
  • Site plan (to metric scale) showing existing buildings and proposed buildings with distances to property lines.  
  • All drawings should include the project title, scale (metric), north arrow, dimensions and room labels on plans.
  • Homeowners Protection certification for new home residential construction
  • For TJI’s, engineered beams or trusses, a layout will be required and must include concentrated load point information.
  • Architectural / Structural, including floor and mezzanine plan(s), showing top and side views to scale.
  • Elevations if work includes exterior additions or alterations
  • Details of the wall assemblies, windows and doors
  • Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical and Sprinkler drawings may be required.
  • Determine size, grade and location of underground and overhead utilities.
  • A geotechnical report if required
  • Obtain acceptance from the City Engineering Department for Works & Services ie. water, storm and sewer connections, driveway access (for new construction).  Existing underground services must be recertified prior to new construction if they were installed more than twenty-five years ago, to ensure they are still in usable condition.  All city services must be decommissioned by the City prior to demolition to ensure the integrity of the mains is maintained.  Re-certification & decommissioning fees are charged per connection. 
  • The BC Building Code requires that a  Work Site Fire Safety Plan  be prepared and submitted prior to the commencement of demolition, construction or alteration operations.
When will I receive my Building Permit?

The Building Inspector will issue your Building Permit when the following conditions are met:

  • An application has been submitted including all of the required supporting documentation;
  • The work set out in the application substantially conforms with the Building Code, the Building Bylaw and all other applicable Bylaws and enactments;
  • The applicant or owner has paid all of the applicable fees. Prior to issuing your Building Permit the Building Inspector will calculate the fee owing. You will need to verify your fees with the Building Inspector before you submit them.  Note: Permit fees are based on a number of factors that can vary from project to project.You can pay for your building permit in person at the Engineering Department Reception desk at City Hall, through the mail or by courier delivery.  Accepted forms of payment include cash, cheque or debit payments.  Building Permit fees are based on the value of the work to be carried out;
  • The applicant or owner has paid all charges and met all the requirements imposed by any other enactment;
  • No enactment, covenant, agreement or regulation authorizes the permit to be withheld.

A “turn around time” of between 7 - 21 days is not uncommon for complete applications, depending on the size of the project and whether any other agency approvals are required.

What are my responsibilities as the owner?

The owner of the property where a Permit has been applied for is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all construction complies with the BC Building Code, the Building Bylaw and all applicable enactments respecting safety.  For specific details regarding the  Responsibilities of the owner click here.

When are inspections required? How do I arrange them?

You will require regular inspections to be conducted by the Building Inspector and by the Fire Inspector as your project progresses.  You are responsible for ensuring that all required inspections are done at the appropriate times.  The Building Inspector and the Fire Inspector work together on most projects however it is recommended that you consult with both regarding the specific inspections you will need and when they are required.

For Building Inspection: 
Please call the Building Inspector to arrange for an inspection. We ask that you provide 24 hours notice when requesting an inspection and that you also provide us with the building permit number, address of the property being inspected and type of inspection required. See a list of required inspections.
 
For Fire Inspections:
Please contact the Chief Fire Prevention Officer to arrange for an inspection. For more detailed information regarding necessary Fire Inspections Click Here.
Does my permit expire?

A building permit will expires if the work authorized by the permit is not started within 6 months or if the work is discontinued for a period of 6 months.  An applicant may apply for a renewal of the original Building Permit under the following conditions:

  • The application for renewal must be made prior to the expiry of the original permit;
  • The permit renewal will be for the same period as the original permit;
  • No permit will be renewed more than once;
  • An additional fee must be paid. 

 All permits expire 24 months after the date of issue.

Why do I need an Occupancy Permit and when will I receive it?

Without a certificate of Occupancy no person may occupy a building or structure or part of a building or structure.  The Building Inspector will prepare your Occupancy Permit once all conditions of the Permit have been met including the following:

  • All required Professional Letters of Assurance have been submitted and accepted;
  • All aspects of the work requiring inspection and acceptance have been inspected and accepted;
  • The designated street number has been permanently affixed to the building;
  • All health and safety requirements of the Building Bylaw and other applicable enactments have been met;
  • The Building Inspector is satisfied that no reduced level of safety will result from a change in the occupancy of the building.

If no damage has occurred to city property or services, any required damage deposits will then be returned to you, after the Occupancy Permit has been issued.

In order for your Building Permit to proceed to the final stage (issuance of an Occupancy Permit) a series of Building Inspections and Fire Inspections will be required.  For most standard applications the city's Building Inspector and Fire Inspector will conduct the Inspections.

What do I need to know if I want to build in the area covered by the Floodplain Bylaw?

The Floodplain Bylaw designates the area covered by the Bylaw and sets construction and development levels to regulate those lands as they are subject to flood hazards. Construction elevations are impacted by the elevation of the land. For more detailed information refer to the  Floodplain Bylaw.

View a Land Use Map of the area covered by the Floodplain Bylaw.

For more information, please contact
Kevin Peters
Building Inspector

4850 Argyle Street
Port Alberni BC V9Y 1V8

Telephone: 
250.720.2832
250.206.0065