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We’re starting to get the message out there that permits are needed for any new construction, even in “the country,” as some folks call the unincorporated areas. But our staff have noticed some confusion or mis-information about placing pre-built structures, including the (false) belief that no permit is required to move an existing structure onto a piece of property.

Here’s the key take-away: a permit is required to place any notable building on property.

(What do we mean by “notable?” In simple terms, it means nobody is going to be upset if you build Fido a doghouse.)

But the rules and permits required vary depending on what kind of pre-fabricated building one may intend to place.

Modular homes:

These structures are built to very strict engineering standards and then placed on a foundation on-site. A building permit is required for all modular homes, but we only evaluate the permit cost based on the on-site work (concrete and finishing costs.) Inspections are required for the foundation and before move-in.


Modern minihomes are factory-built structures that meet specific engineering requirements. As such, they are exempt under the building code from requiring foundations. A development permit is required to place a minihome. Some municipalities have limits on where a minihome can be placed, so it’s best to call the development office for that municipality (for McAdam, Harvey, Saint Andrews and St. George, that’s us) for information.

Mobile home:

Like minihomes, mobile homes also require a development permit to place on a property. And, like minihomes, most municipalities have limits on where they can be placed – if at all. Again, call first.

Other structures (shipping containers, etc):

Long-term storage units, like shipping containers or transport trailers with wheels removed are considered “structures” as far as provincial and municipal regulations are concerned. These will require development permits in rural areas, and either development permits or building permits (depending on size) for municipalities – if allowed at all. Once more, call first.

One of the challenges our building inspectors face is that some folks confuse our building inspectors with home inspectors. What's the difference?

A home inspector is usually involved at the onset of a real estate transaction. They are usually hired by a potential purchaser to evaluate the structural status and overall condition of an existing building.

A building inspector evaluates renovations, new construction and changes of use/occupancy. Their task is to ensure that the construction meets the National Building Code of Canada, including structural safety as well as life and fire safety. Building inspectors are usually employed by a government body of some nature, and have a certain scope of legal powers under the Community Planning Act, which also includes the power to work with municipal by-law officers in deeming buildings suitable for demolition.

In New Brunswick, a provincial professional association – the New Brunswick Building Officials Association - oversees education and certification of building inspectors, and the training meshes with a national body to ensure inspectors have similar training and qualifications across the country. All the inspectors employed by the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission are active members in the NBBOA.