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Effective Jan. 10, 2024, our building inspectors are requiring inspections before concrete is poured in a slab for any building with an occupancy (ie: anything other than a garage). This is to ensure the correct installation of insulation, vapour barrier, bond break, and radon pipe (if required.)

Of key note is the requirement for a bond break - this is a material that prevents adhesion of the slab to any frost wall, as required by Code.

Check out this downloadable guide for more: basement wall details (10-01-24)

One of the primary reasons for delays in obtaining a building permit come from clients submitting insufficient or incomplete plans.

Here’s what our inspectors will require – in general – for various projects. Note that scale drawings of all projects are required by provincial law.

Decks, residential:

Post spacings, footing details, post sizes (6x6 mandatory), beam construction details, joist details (size, span, spacing); drawing may be required for complex decks/structures.


Footing/frost wall details (or engineered slab plan), wall details, roof system details.

Simple additions, houses:

Floor plan mandatory, footing/foundation details, beam composition, joist (size, span, spacing), wall details (studs, sheathing, insulation, cladding), lintels, roof system (truss/rafter, insulation, sheathing, roofing material)

New houses:

Neat, scale/scalable drawing of all floors, footing/foundation details, beam composition, joist (size, span, spacing), wall details (studs, sheathing, insulation, cladding), lintels, roof system (truss/rafter, insulation, sheathing, roofing material), beam and post details (if applicable) egress window locations, soil gas pipe location, slab insulation (if applicable/required). If there are interior stairs, details on this are required to verify rise/run.


All of the above, plus fire separation details (referenced to Part 9 assemblies, ULC-tested assemblies, or Appendix D), with requirement for STC 50 between units.

Change of occupancy, light commercial:

Detailed plan of all floors in existing building required.

Light commercial construction (Part 9 buildings):

Digital scale drawings (i.e. phone-captured images of plans NOT accepted), details on all structural elements (walls/floors/footings/foundations/roofing, including truss plan), Code matrix required for all but simple renovations/additions/builds. All required fire separations must be referenced to Part 9 or ULC-tested assemblies, or be referenced to Appendix D. Note requirement for STC for residential suites adjacent to other occupancies. Ventilation details required. Calculations of spa

New heavy commercial construction/restaurants/churches (Part 3):

Changes of occupancy and minor alterations may be permitted without a professional plan in some circumstances, otherwise professional designer and/or engineer required by law. Code matrix required. Fire separations must be referenced to ULC-rated assemblies or Appendix D. Ventilation details required.

It’s a busy time of year, and not surprisingly, people want to get started on projects as soon as possible.

But before you start your building permit application, make sure you have all the information needed for our staff to begin working on it.

Every project needs building plans of some nature. But there are also a host of other things that ought to be considered.

Septic approval/re-approval: needed for any new build with plumbing, any build that is adding bedrooms. (GNB application here).

Site plan: required for *every* application. Show us where your building is. We need to know the distance to the side and rear lot lines, as well as the front of the lot - that's the front property line. Do NOT submit measurements to the centre of the street or road.

Wetlands permit: Check to see if your project requires a Watercourse and Wetland Alteration Permit, affectionately called a "WAWA" in the industry. The permit costs $25.

Setback certificate: If you are building within 30 metres of any pubic road, you need to contact the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure for their approval.  Application form (verify this is up-to-date) Application form here.  This must be submitted to DOTI, we do NOT process setback certificates.

Civic number: Many new residences require evidence of having applied for a civic number.  Call toll free at 1-888-353-4444 or e-mail ( for assistance.

Our office has noted an uptick in house plans purchased from various American companies that essentially mass-produce house plans.

Do be cautious: there are a number of issues that can arise as a result of either differences between U.S. codes and the National Building Code, or as a result of climactic differences.

Examples include:

  • Insufficient foundation sizing
  • Incorrect post (column) sizing
  • Insufficient rafter strength
  • Missing earthquake bracing panels

New Brunswick does not require a professional designer to create house plans, but if you are seeking aid of a designer, make sure the designer is familiar with - and able to design to - Canadian codes.

With warmer weather upon us, people are starting to work on various building projects they've been dreaming about all winter. With the new rules in place requiring that accessory buildings (ie: garages) of more than 55 square metres (592 square feet) must meet Code, we're seeing a lot of building permit applications - as one might expect. Help avoid delays by make sure that all building permit applications include a suitably detailed scale drawing of the construction. Our building inspectors will need to know things like

  • footings (depth and dimension)
  • Walls (stud size and spacing, sheathing, cladding)
  • Lintel construction for all openings in load-bearing walls
  • Roofing system, including depiction of insulation and ventilation
  • Joist sizes/spacing, beam size/spacing, posts/columns
  • Stair dimensions
  • Truss plans (for anything other than simple gable roofs)
  • Earthquake braced wall designs for any house in the seismically active area of the region (details here)

Other things to think about:

  • Please note that any loadbearing "slab-on-grade" designs (ie: no frost wall) MUST include a plan created by a structural engineer licenced to practice in the province.
  • Any non-residential occupancy will require detailed scale drawings of all elements. If you're looking at constructing, modifying or adding to a business, office, creating apartments, or something other than a house or a garage serving a house, you're into a more complex section of code that may require a complex design - or an architect/engineer. It's best to call our office first, just to gain an idea of what you may need.

It's officially spring - we can tell at the planning office, because of the dramatic increase in permit applications for garages.

Effective Jan. 1, all accessory structures larger than 55m2 (592 square feet) must be built to the standards of the National Building Code of Canada - and that means that any accessory building of 55m2 (592 square feet) footprint or larger must have either

  1. frost wall bearing on a foundation at 4' depth (or solid rock)
  2. piers (sonotubes) bearing to a foundation at 4' depth (or solid rock)
  3. screw piles (engineered)
  4. an engineer-designed slab-on-grade foundation.

It's vital for applicant to realize that submitting a permit for an accessory building with a slab-on-grade foundation MUST include a drawing of the slab stamped by an engineer qualified to work in the province. If this isn't part of your application, it will delay the issuance of a permit.

More on slabs here.

Hey, Grand Manan folks:

As you may already know, our office is now providing planning and building inspection services for the Island. If you are on the island, and thinking about a summer construction project, it's important you be aware of the requirement for earthquake bracing throughout much of the province. (This has been a requirement since Jan. 1, 2022, so it's not new.)

About 2/3 of stick-build structures that are not accessory buildings will require earthquake bracing. To find out if your project is in that area, click on this link.  That will take you to our interactive map. If your property is in the red area, it will require earthquake bracing.

For design guidance, see here.

Mechanical ventilation systems have long been required in Canadian buildings, including houses. There are requirements for these systems - usually heat recovery ventilators - in terms of how much air they provide to each area.

Effective immediately, our office is requiring ventilation installers to certify the systems they install meet these requirements.

This will be done using this ventilation record form.

A couple of times a year, our office receives a call from a contractor trying to figure out what grade of shingle should be used on the side of a house.

One of the reasons for this lies in the fact that some installers have believed – as gospel – that all shingles have to be No. 1 clear grade – except there is no such thing! There is a “clear grade” – which is a term for an Eastern white cedar shingle, and a “No. 1” grade, which is for a Western red cedar shake, but not a “No. 1 clear grade.”

One of the likely causes for confusion lies in the fact that people use the term “shingle” and “shake” interchangeably, and it’s not appropriate.

In simple terms, a shake is wood that has been split (it used to be done by hand, now often done by machine), whereas a shingle is sawn. A shingle is usually thinner.

There is only one Code-acceptable shake, and that’s a No. 1 (handsplit) Western red cedar.

However, there are two acceptable kinds of shingle, and depending on whether you’re using a Western (red) cedar or an Eastern (white) cedar, there are two different names for what is essentially the same thing, which doesn’t help clear up confusion:

Eastern (White): B (Clear)

Western (Red): No. 2

For Eastern shingles, C-grade shingles may be used on the lower (first) course of double-course applications, and for Western, a No. 3 grade may be used in the same situation

It’s time again for the annual list of the most common building Code infractions. If nothing else, it’s a cautionary tale for contractors and designers, to help make for a better 2023.

#10:  Fence posts used in (deck) construction

This infraction is one that our office has been challenged with for years. Simply put, a 4x4 section of wood is a fence post, and should only be used for fences or chicken coops. Yet we keep finding these things used for deck supports. Fortunately, we’re trending in the right direction: this was infraction #5 last year.

#9: Incorrect fastening of trusses to top plate

Three shall be the number of nails thou shalt use to attach trusses to top plates. Two nails is not permitted, unless you proceed forthwith to adding a third nail. Four nails is overkill but permitted. Wood screws will make our inspectors weep (See #7).

#8: Incorrect beam splicing

Splicing of built-up beams have some simple rules, but for some reason, our inspectors continue to find errors. Here’s how to splice a beam correctly. (On the plus side, this was #4 on the 2021 list, so there has been improvement.)

#7: Wood screws used for structural connections

For some reason, our inspectors continue to encounter builders – and not always DIY homeowners – who mistakenly believe that wood screws are a superior connector to the Code-mandated nail. If you’re not sure why Code requires nails, find a 3” screw and a 3” nail. Drive both halfway into a hefty section of wood, then bend the head so it lies flush with the wood. (Hint: the nail will bend, the screw will break.) We’re delighted at this being #7, because it was the top issue in 2021.

#6: Insulation of plumbing in exterior walls

This is new to our list, because it was a point of enforcement in 2022. Plumbing requires that vent pipes run vertically from fixtures like sinks. When sinks are located near exterior walls, there is a tendency to run vent pipes through the exterior walls. The problem: these pipes reduce the efficiency of the insulation in this section of the wall. Steps must be taken (usually the application of closed-cell foam on both sides of the pipe) to avoid an area that will lose a significant amount of heat otherwise.

#5: Improper lintel construction

This one continues to be a head-scratcher for our inspectors. When 2x6 construction became popular due to insulation requirements, some builders decided it was simpler to build two-ply lintels set on the outer edge of the 2x6 jack studs, leaving a space between. This is not permitted, unless the lintels are cross-connected with filler pieces set at no more than 18” apart.

#4: Emergency lights missing where required

Commercial buildings must be equipped with lights that will illuminate the way to an exit if there is a loss of power. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, building owners and contractors alike sometimes believe that Codes require illuminated exit signs.  Not all commercial buildings require exit signs, but all commercial buildings require emergency lights. [NBC and]  Given that commercial structures represent only 15 per cent of our total permits issued on any given year, the fact this cracks our top 10 for then second year running (it was #8 last year) is somewhat concerning.

#3: Improper window installation

Several years ago, improper window installation was the cause of the majority of Atlantic Home Warranty claims, which is one of the reasons we are zealous about ensuring windows are installed according to Code and the national window installation standard. This was #2 last year, so clearly, the message isn’t getting through to builders and installers. Here's our window installation guide. 

#2: Column not anchored

This has been a problem in past years, but not to this degree. It’s also a bit complicated to explain, but put as simply as we can, engineered post brackets (often used for decks) require nails, bolts, or engineered screws. The fact this was so common in 2022 is baffling.

(dis)honourable mentions

  • Joist hangers improperly nailed. (Missing nails, or wood screws used.)
  • Doors from garages to houses not equipped with a seal and self-closing device
  • Sealant missing where required. (If you don’t stop water from entering a gap or cavity, it will enter said gap or cavity)

#1: Improperly located or missing carbon monoxide alarms

If your home has a wood stove, gas-fueled appliance, or attached garage, a carbon monoxide alarm is required in or within 5m (15ft) of every sleeping area. Further, any wood-burning stove (including pellet stoves) will require a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room.  Given how simple this requirement is, we're at a total loss to explain why the incorrect placement of carbon monoxide alarms was such a problem in 2022 – representing more than 10 per cent of our violations.