Changes to Existing Commercial Buildings

Additions or Renovations to Commercial Buildings & Large Scale Residential Construction 

Getting Started

A Commercial Building Permit  is required for an Addition when construction to an existing structure results in an increase to the floor area or height of a building. This includes the attachment of any covered structure to the primary commercial building, such as an attached storage or other. 

A Commercial Building Permit is required for Renovations when construction to an existing building includes changes to interior or exterior walls, plumbing, structural repairs or changes, drywall repairs, altering a garage, or renovations to an existing space. 


This section deals with Renovations and Additions related to Commercial Buildings,  Large Scale Residential Buildings, and Mixed Use Buildings.

Commercial Buildings
This category includes Institutional, Commercial, and Industrial structures of any size. 

Large Scale Residential Construction
A Multi-Unit Residential building is also included in this category but must be more than 4 units, more than 3 storeys in building height, or have a building footprint area exceeding 600 square meters. 

Mixed Use Construction
This category includes a combination of Residential and Commercial Occupancy of the building.

Your ability to develop your property is dependent on the Land Use By-laws specific to the region you live in.  The Halifax Regional Municipality is divided into several zones, please refer to the Interactive Property Information Map to identify which By-law zone governs your property. From the map you can directly access the bylaws for your zone.

Once you're aware of the development limitations of your property, you can begin to plan your project.

Things to Know

Common Required Related Permits include:
Water Permits, Right of Way Permits, Grade Alteration Permits and possibly Sign Permits.

A Development - Right of Way Permit is required if:
- The property is on a municipal road, and work in the municipal Right of Way is required to install a new driveway, for example. 
OR
- A new connection to Halifax Water (Water, Wastewater, Stormwater) needs to be installed.
OR
- If, for example, you are blocking the road to onload material or perform any construction related activities.

A Water Permit is required if:
- The new building or the existing buildings being renovated are within the Municipal Water Boundary.

For more information view the construction permits guide (PDF). 
View the Construction Permit Pre-Application (MICI) Guide (PDF) for Multi-Unit Residential, Institutional, Commercial and Industrial Projects. 

A Sign Permit:
- If installing a sign you will require a sign permit. 

Building Permits expire after 2 years from date of issue. Anybody can apply for a building permit.

Common Questions

Q. If I am a Condo Homeowner in a building with a footprint of more than 600m2 or more than 3 storey's, do I apply for a Residential Renovation Permit if I want to renovate a room in the unit?
A. No, you apply for a permit based on the size of the overall structure of the building. In this case you would need a Commercial Building Permit (renovation).  

Q. I'm opening a new business in an existing space, what kind of permit do I need to apply for?
A. In most cases, the permit required will be a Commercial Building Permit. If there is no renovation being done, then the Application to Occupy Permit is only required.

Q. If I'm doing a Leasehold in a mall, more than 600m2 or more than 3 storey's, do I need Professional Design Documents?
A. In most cases yes, professional design documents are required. However, if existing systems (electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc) are not being affected, then a letter(Existing Conditions Letter) from the applicant stating that these are not impacted is required. The Existing Conditions Letter is uploaded in place of the Professional Design Document.

Documents Required

Supporting documents are always required as part of making a permit application. 

Commercial Building Permits require designs and documents created and signed by Qualified Professionals.

There are many required documents related to this type of permit. Please refer to the Commercial Building Permit Renovation Required Documents Table or the Commercial Permit Addition Required Documents Table. 

Leasehold updates must meet document requirements as described in this By-law B-201 excerpt 


Document Naming
Automated workflows have been built to expedite the application process when customers use the document naming convention
If these Document names are not used during the application phase, the applicant will be required to manually assign the correct document type to each document so the system will know what document has been submitted.

Inspections Required

View the important inspection-related information sheet (PDF).

At the time the permit is issued, HRM will identify the stages of construction which must be inspected by municipal staff.

During various stages of construction, building and plumbing inspections will be required.

Additional documents may be required at different stages of inspection. For example, an A11 document is required prior to being issued a Certificate of Occupancy.

Most documents will be uploaded as supplemental documents during the inspection phase. For example, geotechnical documents.

The exception is the LOC document, which must follow a special process outlined here: 
- How to Upload and Submit a Location Certificate Guide

Refer to the Permitting System How To Guides section for more information about uploading documents to the system.
 

Fees

Building Permit Fees are based on value of construction.

For full details of permit fee calculation and a complete list of fee rates, please see the Permit Fees page.

Payment Options
Full payment for the permit must be made at the time of application submission.

Online
Payment can be made online during the application process online using a credit card.

In Person
If you prefer to pay in person you can visit our Planning & Development Counter at:
5251 Duke St, 3rd Floor, Suite 300, Duke Tower, Halifax
8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. (closed between 12-1 p.m.)
Monday to Friday, excluding Holidays

Apply Online

For Additions or Renovations to existing Commercial or Large Scale Residential Construction, you're going to apply for a BUILDING PERMIT.
Our new online system allows you to apply for permits 24/7 through your personal customer portal account.

To apply for permits online:

1. You need to register for a customer portal account
2. If you are a contractor, you will need to create your contractor profile.
3. Ensure you have all of the information required before you apply for your permit. Refer to the Before You Begin Checklist.
4. Learn how to Navigate the Customer Portal.
5. For additional support, refer to our quick guide on how to Apply for a Permit Online.

Visit the applying for a permit page to view a library of support documents, videos and common questions to help you best use the customer portal. 

Apply Online