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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.

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.

Of late, our office has been dealing with a number of situations where people have begun construction of some major work without a required building permit.

We cannot stress this enough: don't. We have dealt with several instances where builders/property owners have begun work without permits, which has resulted in extra costs after the fact to rectify the work.

One of the critical services our building inspectors provide is a plans review. This is where the proposed plans are evaluated for structural integrity, (are the footings sized for the loads? Are the lintels suitable? Are joists sized for the spans and loads?), environmental protection (is the insulation sufficient? Is there sufficient ventilation?) as well as fire and life safety.  Proceeding to build without this "second set of eyes" on a plan is risky as well as illegal. And it can cost a lot of money.

Possible repercussions of starting work without a permit include:

  • Costs to have an engineer certify undersized footings are capable of handling structural and snow loads
  • Costs required to remove construction that encroaches a protected wetland or river corridor
  • Costs required to retroactively apply for variances (setback, lot size limits, land use)
  • Delays caused by contractors moving to other work during a period when a stop work order is in force
  • Costs required to replace work that didn't comply to Code
  • And, if the matter warrants, fines.

The bottom line - call us. Please don't build without a permit.

Over the last few months, our building inspectors have encountered serious challenges with clients deviating from approved plans without contacting us first.

Even minor changes can lead to problems down the road: changing a 6’-wide window to a 7’ window may require a lintel (header) to be altered from a three-ply 2x6 to a three ply 2x8 to handle snow loads. If that isn’t communicated to us, the end result will be a complete tear-out of the window assembly to install the correct lintel.

Another example: replacing a deck or exterior stairs serving a second storey duplex or apartment suite. There is an array of fire-safety regulations at play in such cases, and something as innocuous as moving a set of stairs two feet closer to a building wall can create problems that will require expensive alterations after the fact.

One area that has also been problematic involves renovations: very often, “replacing a living room window with a similar-size window” turns into “that whole wall is rotting, and we have to rebuild a load-bearing wall.” If the scope of work changes, call one of our inspectors.


Hey folks – the SNBSC building inspection department, in conjunction with Nudura and Bird Stairs, is pleased to announce a special education event for Monday July 11.

The topic will be the construction of shear walls under the Insulated Concrete Form Manufacturer’s Association (ICFMA) engineered design guide. The guide shows how to construct shear walls (above-ground ICF in seismic areas such as ours) and how to create openings in ICF walls closer than 1.2 m from corners.The session will cover not only Nudura, but QuadLock, SuperForm, Logix, BuildBlock and Fox Blocks systems.

Session will run from 9 am to 2 p.m., at the Hemlock Knoll Landfill. Lunch is provided.

Please pre-register by emailing  Space is limited, so it’s advised to register early.

Our office is seeing a significant spike in building permit applications at this time. While we are still trying to keep to a two-week timeline from application to issuance of a permit, a staggering number of permit applications are suffering needless delays because applicants are not providing enough information for our staff to conduct reviews.

In order for us to process an application, our administrative staff will require

  • Septic approval or re-approval documents for new home/business construction, or bedroom additions
  • Wetlands approval for properties near a designated watercourse or wetland
  • An accurate site map showing distances from the proposed building to all adjacent properties and buildings
  • Setback certificate for new builds that require driveways
  • Civic number for new builds on newly created/yet developed lots.

Our building inspectors are also seeing a disturbing number of applications with incomplete building plans. As stated, we require a scale drawing of the proposed construction, showing how all walls, floors and roofing systems will be constructed. This includes a detail on where required earthquake bracing panels will be located. If you have hired a professional designer, it is up to that designer to know the Code and prepare Code-compliant plans, including required earthquake bracing: our inspectors are not allowed to provide design guidance by law. 

At this moment, there are 12 applications awaiting review by a building inspector, and of those 10 are on hold because the plans did not have sufficient detail. Some of the issues that can cause a plan to stall:

  • Plans that do not show a required footing. Remember: an engineered design is required for almost all load-bearing slab-on-grade construction, contrary to popular myth.
  • Plans that do not show scale.
  • Plans that do not show required earthquake bracing.
  • Plans that are simply, clearly, and obviously not Code-compliant (such as an attached deck supported on deck blocks, using 4x4 posts as supports).
  • Sketches of a building with no detail on how walls, foundations, roofing or any other elements will be constructed.

Help us process your application quickly by making sure all the information is included. If in doubt, call an inspector before you file your application - it may save you lost time down the road.