Building Services

Welcome to the Building and By-law Division of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Our division looks after the processing of your building application. Approval of an application to construct a building will involve examination of construction drawings, confirmation of zoning and setbacks, approval from CBRM Engineering, and possibly approval from the Department of the Environment and approval of the Department of Transportation.

Make sure you allow a reasonable amount of time between the application for a building permit and the time you plan to begin construction.

Building Permits

In the Province of Nova Scotia it is a legal requirement that a building permit be obtained prior to any type of construction. Whether the project is a large hospital or school, a new home, addition or repairs to an existing building, conversion of a building to add apartments, etc., a building permit IS required.

Do I need a permit?

All buildings need to be built to meet minimum health, fire and structural safety and property protection standards. Permits and inspections help to ensure that these standards are met so that your building will provide you with a safe and healthy environment.

Therefore, a permit is required for all structural and non-structural work that is valued at more than $5,000. Permits are needed for Garages, Pools, Decks, Conversions or Change of Use of buildings. Tent permits are required for tents that are being used for special gathering events.

A Building Permit is NOT required for non-structual work valued at less than $5,000., (ex., fences, painting, retaining walls or sheds under 100 sq. ft. in area).

Examples of non-structural work include, (roofing, shingle replacement, siding, window and door replacement and painting).

What information do I need for a permit?

You will need the following basic information to be completed on the application form when applying for your permit:

  • Completed permit application form, along with detailed description of the work that is to be done.
  • Civic address of project (if known)
  • Directions to the property
  • Contact information IS required for the Applicant, Owner, & Contractor

Construction Drawing (Blue Prints) TWO (2) sets - PDF acceptable

  • Surveyor's Plot Plan - showing the proposed location of the building or the addition on the lot.
  • Copy of the approved permit from the Department of Environment for the installation of your septic system (where applicable) - for any questions regarding your septic system please phone Dept. of Environment at 563-2100.
  • Copy of approved permit from the Department of Transportation for access approval (where applicable) - contact Dept. of Transportation at 563-2240

What does a permit cost?

The following is a list of permits fees:

Plan Review

Residential - Paper $30.00,  PDF $30.00
Commercial - Paper $ $70.00, PDF $70.00


  1. Mobile Home and Modular Home - $200.00
  2. New Single Family Residential - $400.00
  3. New Multiple Residential - $200.00 per unit
  4. Single Family Residential Addition - $150.00
  5. Residential Renovations Change of Use - $1.50 per $1000 of project cost
  6. Residential Plumbing - $50.00 per dwelling unit
  7. Residential Accessory Building/Shed, one storey up to 576 sq ft - $50.00
  8. Residential Accessory Building, two storey and/or greater than 576 sq ft - $100.00
  9. Power Connect, Pool/Fence, or Deck - $50.00

Tent - $50.00

Demolition - $50.00

Renewal of Building Permit - $25.00

Commercial and all other, excluding residential:

  1. Commercial New Construction and Additions - $20.00 plus $0.25 per square foot of total building area.
  2. Industrial, Institutional, Agricultural or Recreational New Construction and Additions - $20.00 plus $0.15 per square foot of total building area.
  3. Commercial, Industrial, Institutional, Agricultural, or Recreational Repairs and Alterations = $20.00 plus $1.50 per $1,000 of value of work.
  4. Plumbing - $15.00 per fixture
  5. Any Non-Residential Accessory building - $150.00

Where do I apply?

Building Permit Application forms can be obtained at the Customer Service Center located at the Civic Center, 320 Esplanade, 1st Floor, Room 101, Sydney, NS or you can download an application from our website at

Building Permit HOTLINE - 563-5090
Fax: 563-0833

Office Hours

8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. - Monday through Friday (except Statutory Holidays)

Note: All applicable fees must be made at time of application along with the required information for the project being carried out. Payment for applications can be made by Cash. Cheque or Debit card.

When do I need inspections?

Construction projects are inspected at the request of the applicant. The inspections are carried out by the Building Inspectors of Cape Breton Regional Municipality using the National Building Code of Canada as a reference standard in evaluating the safety of the project. Inspections are done at the following stages of construction:

Footings, in placeFoundation, prior to backfilling (before framing is placed on foundation)Framing, prior to insulationRough-in plumbing, prior to drywall insulationInsulation & vapor barrier, prior to the drywall insulationPlumbing, Mechanical, Heating, prior to occupancy of structureOccupancy, structure complete, ready for occupancy

Call our 24-Hour Inspection message service at (902)563-5090. All work must be finished and ready to be inspected at the time of the request.

You are required to leave:

  • Your name and Permit number
  • Type of inspection required
  • Location of project
  • Your phone number (in case we need to contact you)


Building and plumbing inspections must be arranged when each stage of construction is ready to be inspected. Failure to arrange complete inspections may result in refusal of services, hookups and occupancy permit.

Other Departments and Jurisdictions

You may need approval or assistance from one or several of the following departments or agencies. You are encouraged to phone Building Services before you build and we will try to answer any questions that you may have.

  • Department of Environment, 295 Charlotte St., Sydney, NS tel: 563-2100
  • Department of Transportation, Keltic Dr., Sydney River, NS tel: 563-2240
  • L.I.M.S. (Land Information Management Services) 500 George Place, Sydney, NS tel: 563-2280
  • Planning & Development Division, CBRM, 320 Esplanade, 2nd Floor., Sydney, NS tel: 563-5134
  • Engineering Dept., CBRM, 320 Esplanade, 2nd Floor, Sydney, NS tel: 563-5053

What else do I need to know?

Your permit is valid for one (1) year from date of issue. If construction has not started or is not finished within this time period, you may renew your permit once for a fee of $25. The waiting period for your permit is approximately 2-3 weeks - make sure you leave a reasonable amount of time between applying for permit and the time you plan to commence construction. Your home must be built to meet the standards of the National Building Code of Canada. Because mistakes can be costly and time consuming, make sure your contractors are familiar with the Codes and are able to guarantee compliance with their standards.

Refund Policy

A permit may be refunded only upon written request from the owner or the applicant. Cape Breton Regional Municipality will refund an application that was never completed, permit denied (Fee minus $20.00) x 70 %.
If a permit is revoked or abandoned before work is commenced (Fee minus $20.00) x 70%.
A permit that is revoked or abandoned after work commenced - NO REFUND.