Understanding Vancouver’s Commercial Building Permits


Understanding Vancouver’s Commercial Building Permits

Development and Building Permits are vital if you are planning an office build-out or renovation in Vancouver or any City really. Each municipality, county, and country will have its own requirements for commercial building approvals. In addition to granting permits, you must consider that each municipality has stringent zoning regulations and ordinances. Because the process varies so much from city to city, there are many misconceptions about how the process goes. Some may believe that because no significant modifications are happening or plumbing changes, they do not need a permit or that they can file an application a week before the project begins. However, with the help of professionals, obtaining a building permit can go smoothly and without timing delays.

This article will discuss which renovations require a permit, how to obtain one, how long the process takes and how AURA can help. Continue reading to find out more about building permits in the Vancouver area.

What Is A Building Permit?

Construction projects and any change of land use or occupancy on private property will require a building permit. A building permit is an official approval issued by the local government agency that authorizes you or your contractor to go ahead with a build-out or remodeling project on a property. Moreover, permits help ensure that construction and renovations follow local bylaws, the building code and health and safety standards. It is imperative that your project follows the Vancouver Building By-law to meet life safety, livability, accessibility, and sustainability requirements. If your project does not meet these requirements, it can be dangerous as these measures are in place for the safety of all. Furthermore, there are significant risks and potentially costly consequences for not applying for a permit.

What Projects Require A Building Permit?

You are required to have a permit to begin construction, such as:

  • Any new construction (new buildings and/or renovations to existing buildings that create a new area)
  • Changing the land use of an existing commercial space
  • Renovation projects that include moving interior walls and/or existing plumbing, electrical, or gas lines
  • Structural repairs
  • Drywall repairs for fire separations in multi-unit residential buildings
  • Renovating or tenant improvements for a new or existing commercial space

Steps To Getting Building Permits:

1.Figure out if you need a separate development permit

In the case of large-scale projects, and/or where zoning relaxations or particular types of land use are proposed, a separate development permit is needed before a building permit application can be sent.

2. Submit application and pay fees

Refer to the application requirement checklist to prepare your submission package.

Fill out and send Building permit application form.

Once your application is accepted for intake, the city will contact you about payment.

3. Application is reviewed and the next steps are supplied

Following a detailed review of the submitted plans and documents of your application by various staff teams, we will provide you with a list of any conditions and items to be addressed before a permit can be issued.

After everything is completed, you can pick up your permit

4. Begin Construction and get trade permits

Once your building permit has been issued, you can begin work and get the required trade permits and book inspections. It is crucial that you start work on your project within six months from the date your permit was issued; otherwise, your permit will become void.

Most construction is likely to require separate trades permits. AURA has an integrated design-build firm that handles all trade permits, not limited to plumbing, electrical and gas.

5. Book inspection and occupy building

Next step is to request inspection. All work completed will need to be inspected at various stages of construction.

Once the final inspection has been passed you may occupy the building.

Permit Timeline:

Building permit timelines vary depending on the project and how busy the issuing location is. As of the third quarter of 2022, standard building permits with no zoning concerns take an average of 10 weeks to complete. A simple Commercial Tenant Improvement that passes the “FIT” program and is eligible for field evaluation can take 6 to 8 weeks. However, we recommend that clients allow 8 to 12 weeks (about three months) for a permit. This recommendation includes various engineering items and value engineering.

How AURA Can Help

An advantage to having an integrated design-build firm is that they oversee and take responsibility for helping to coordinate all the moving parts of a commercial project, including permits. From workplace strategy to design to project delivery you are guaranteed an experience focused on risk mitigation, construction safety, and efficiency. The steps to coordinate and obtain commercial building permits are complicated, especially for those with little or no experience managing a construction project. It is critical to involve qualified professionals that are familiar with the specific municipality requirements to obtain project permits early and ensure a smooth process.

Contact Us or visit our Services page to learn more about us and how AURA’s integrated experience can help you with your next office renovation or build-out.

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