Building Inspection Frequently Asked Questions
Updated on May 11, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
- When do I need a building permit to do work in the Regional District?
Answer: Building permits are required for any new construction, demolition, alteration or addition to a structure in a Regional District of Nanaimo building Electoral Areas. Separate permits are required for gas and electrical work from the Technical Safety BC.
- How do I obtain a building permit?
Answer: You can use the RDN's web portal to apply for building permits, check the status of your
application, request inspections or submit complaints, all from the comfort of your home, office or
mobile device. Click here to apply online.
- How much does a permit cost?
Answer: The building permit fee is based on 1% of the value of construction, including material and labour. Depending on the project, additional inspection fees may apply. For a full fee schedule please click here.
- How can I pay for my building permit?
Answer: You will pay for the balance or your building permit when you pick it up. Permit fees shall be paid by way of cash, cheque, debit or money order payable to the Regional District of Nanaimo. If you are using the RDN web portal for your permit application, credit card payments are accepted.
- How long does it take to process a building permit?
Answer: We are committed to processing all permit applications as quickly as possible. For residential construction (new houses, additions, alterations and accessory buildings) the processing depends on the time of year and volume of permits. Please contact the building department at 250-390-6530 to get an estimate of the current processing times.
- Can I get the permit process started before I have a complete application?
Answer: No. You need to have a complete application to apply. If you are missing any of the required information your application will not be accepted. This also helps keep processing times down.
- How long is a building permit valid?
Answer: A permit application remains active for 6 months from the application date. Once a permit is issued, it remains valid for up to two years only if:
- The first inspection is completed within 6 months from permit issue date, or;
- The work is not suspended or discontinued for more than one year
- How and when can I request building inspections?
Answer: For online building permit applications, inspection requests can be made through the RDN's web portal. If you are a registered portal user, please click here to request inspections.
To request a building inspection by telephone call 250-390-6530 with your building permit number, type of inspection required and what date you would like the inspection. We require 24-48 hours notice to book inspections. You can book an inspection by calling our office Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30. Gabriola Island inspections are only booked for Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- What building inspections are required in the RDN?
Answer: For a complete list of required building inspections please see the Schedule of Inspections
- What time will my inspector come to do the inspection?
Answer: Inspections are done Monday to Friday between 8:30 and 4:30. If you wish, you may call Building Services at 250-390-6530 after 9:30 a.m. on the day of your inspection for an approximate time your Inspector will be on site.
BC Building Code
- Where can I get a copy of the building code?
Answer: You may obtain a copy of the current BC Building Code online click here.
Decks and Small Accessory Buildings
- Do I need a permit for a deck or garden shed?
Answer: Sheds that are a maximum of 10 sq. m. (107 sq. ft.) do not require a Building Permit. Minimum setbacks to property lines apply and depend on which Zone the shed is located in. Larger sheds do require a permit.
If the deck structure is 2ft. or greater in height, setbacks must be met. A building permit is required for ALL elevated decks. If you are unsure about a specific project, contact our office.
- What Zone is my property in? And what are the zoning regulations?
Answer: Please contact the RDN Planning Department (250-390-6510) to discuss your zoning regulations. If you are inquiring about a property on Gabriola Island or in the District of Lantzville please contact the Planning authority for those jurisdictions.
- I am working on a property with a watercourse. Are there any special requirements or regulations I need to follow?
Answer: You must first complete the Riparian Areas Regulation Property Declaration form and if you are building within a Riparian Assessment Area you must have an assessment done on the property by a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP). You may also be required to obtain a development permit. Please contact the planning department for specific information.
Building Inspection Records
- Do you release copies of building inspection records?
Answer: To obtain copies of building inspection records for a specific property you must complete a request for information form and submit it to Building Services. Make sure to include the property owner's consent and what information you require so we can determine if releasing the records is in keeping with policies and legislative requirements. There is a base fee of $40 (+ GST) and additional charges may apply for copying plans or other large documents.
- Where can I find information on my septic system / well?
Answer: The RDN may have septic and well information on file if building permits were previously issued on a property. This information may be obtained through a Property Information Request. The majority of this information however comes from the Island Health Authority.
- Do I require a building permit for a farm building?
Answer: Farm buildings constructed on properties with agricultural zoning and farm status under the Assessment Act are exempt from permit requirements. Owners must still comply with the requirements of the National Farm Building Code and the zoning regulations for property.
- How do I find information on the Board of Variance?
Answer: Board of Variance information can be found here
Contact Building Inspection
- I have a general question, who should I talk to?
Answer: You may call 250-390-6530 and speak with a Building Clerk. The clerk will be able to answer your question or re-direct your call to the appropriate staff member. You can also send us an email to EBuilding [at] rdn.bc.ca
Demolishing or Removing Buildings and Manufactured Homes
- Do I need a permit to remove or demolish a building or manufactured home?
Answer: a separate Demolition Permit is required to remove or demolish a building or manufactured home, unless you already have an active Building Permit for reconstruction that includes the demolition work.
- What is required for a Demolition Permit?
- An application must be made by the owner or agent
- A hazardous Material Report must be completed
- For manufactured homes, the CSA registration number must be included with the permit application
- Payment of the applicable permit fee
Site Cut Lumber
- Can I use lumber cut from timber on my property to construct my house or accessory building?
Answer: Lumber used for structural components must be graded in accordance with National Lumber Grades Authority (NLGA) standard grading rules for Canadian lumber.
Typically, lumber is graded and stamped at the source of manufacture. With site cut lumber, the grading can be done on-site by a qualified grader who provides the necessary certification for the owner and subsequent verification by the RDN Building Inspector where required by the BC Building Code. The RDN can provide you with names of certified lumber graders on Vancouver Island.
Energy Efficiency Requirements
- What Climate Zone is my property in?
Answer: Electoral Areas A, B, C and the District of Lantzville are in Climate Zone 4. Electoral Areas E, F, G and H are in Climate Zone 5. To learn more about the BC Building Code energy efficiency requirements for those climate zones, please click here.
Rebates and Incentives
- How do I find information on available building rebates and incentives?
Answer: You can visit the RDN Energy & Sustainability section of the RDN website or contact the RDN Sustainability Coordinator at 250-390-6510 for information on available rebates and incentives.
- Are heat pumps required to meet setbacks in the RDN?
Answer: there are no setback requirements to locate a heat pump or central air conditioning unit. You should avoid placing units near neighboring windows or near reflecting surfaces, such as hard packed soil which can compound noise from the units.