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Farm Buildings

What is a farm building?

According to the Ontario Building Code a farm building does not allow for residential occupancy and is primarily located on land used for farming and used essentially for housing farming equipment, livestock, or the production, storage or processing of agricultural and horticultural produce or feeds.

When are building permits required?

A building permit is required for all buildings having an area greater than 10 square metres (108 square feet).

What do I need to obtain a permit?

  1. A complete farm building permit application and applicable building permit fee.
  2. A signed declaration that indicates whether the proposed structure will house livestock.
  3. A complete Minimum Distance Separation (MDS) data sheet if applicable.
  4. Two sets of drawings showing dimensions, size, and type of all structural components, such as footings, posts, beams, etc., to ensure compliance with the Ontario Building Code. Schematic plumbing drawings are required if plumbing is contained within the building.
  5. A site plan showing the location of all existing and proposed buildings. Include all setbacks from the proposed buildings to the property lines. If required for MDS calculations indicate the distance from the proposed building to the existing houses on adjacent properties included in the MDS.
  6. Two sets of roof trusses, shop drawings sealed and signed by a Professional Engineer.
  7. Two sets of mechanical drawings (if applicable).
  8. Other approvals as required, such as Conservation Authority, Durham Region Health, Ministry of Transportation, et cetera.

Note: The designer may need to be registered and/or qualified. Designers of farm buildings of low human occupancy, greater than or equal to two storeys in height and greater than 600 square metres in building area are not required to be qualified and/or registered. Designers of farm buildings other than above must be qualified and/or registered. For more information, see the Qualification and Registration section of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing website. The Municipality will not issue a building permit if the designers are not appropriately qualified and/or registered. This includes architectural and engineering firms or drafting firms that provide design services.

How and where do I apply for a building permit?

When you are ready to apply, bring two copies of your plans to:
Municipal Administrative Centre (3rd Floor)
40 Temperance Street, Bowmanville

You will need to fill out the farm building permit application and pay the fee. We will review your submission to ensure compliance with the Ontario Building Code, the Ontario Building Code Act, the zoning by-law and all applicable laws. We will issue your building permit promptly if the proposed construction meets all the requirement. And if you have submitted all of the required information (trusses shop drawings and permits from other agencies) to the Building Division.


  1. Section SB-11 of the Ontario Building Code prescribes the structural requirements for low human occupancy farm buildings. A Professional Engineer must seal the drawings for all structures beyond the scope of Section SB-11.

How much will it cost?

The building permit fee for all farm buildings is $3.60 per square metre (maximum $6,808) of gross floor area, with a minimum charge of $110.

What inspections are required?

Building inspections

  • Footings: Readiness to construct footings with formwork and reinforcing in place prior to placing concrete.
  • Backfill: Substantial completion of footings and foundation including drainage and damp proofing prior to commencement of backfilling.
  • Framing: Substantial completion of the structural framing after heating and ventilation, mechanical and plumbing rough in with windows and roofing in place.
  • Building occupancy: Completion of the construction and installation of components required to permit occupancy as required by the Ontario Building Code.

Note 1: For most farm buildings, such as barns, where there are no finished interior spaces, no other inspections beyond framing are required.

Note 2: Additional inspections, such as insulation, may be required if finished concealed space contained within the building or the building inspector is of the opinion they are necessary.

Plumbing inspections (if required)

  • Outside services: Installation of building storm sewer, sanitary sewer, and water service pipe.
  • Inside services: Installation of underground building storm drain, sanitary drain, and water supply.
  • Plumbing rough in: Installation of drainage system, venting system, and the water distribution system throughout the building.
  • Plumbing occupancy: Installation of required plumbing fixtures and plumbing appliances as required to permit occupancy by the Ontario Building Code.

Heating inspections (if required)

  • Heating rough in: Substantial completion of ductwork and piping for heating and air-conditioning.
  • Heating occupancy: Completion of the construction and installation of components required to permit occupancy as required by the Ontario Building Code.

To arrange an inspection, please call 905-623-7876 before 3 p.m. for next day inspection.

Electrical inspections (if required)

Completed independently by the Electrical Safety Authority. Call 1-877-372-7233.


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