177 - 1st Avenue NE - PO Box 340 - Swift Current, SK - S9H 3W1
Fax Number: 306-778-2194
Email Address: email@example.com
Cynthia Starchuk, Senior Building Official: 306-778-2714
- Commercial Permits
- Residential Permits
IF I WANT TO BUILD, WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?...
The City of Swift Current, through municipal bylaws, regulates construction within the city limits. For your convenience, a summary of some of our more common queries (listed in alphabetical order) are set out below:
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ACCESSORY BUILDINGS (Sheds & Garages)
Accessory buildings (sheds and garages) in residential areas require building permits when they exceed 100 SF (9.3 m2) in building area regardless of what they are made of. This includes fabric tent type structures, polyurethane sheds, or traditional wood structures. Buildings under that size do not require a permit but must be located correctly to building codes and zoning bylaw requirements.
Placement of an Accessory Building:
- Accessory buildings may only be placed in the rear yard. The rear yard is determined to the area from the plane of the principal building (the house) closest to the rear lot line. However, the only time an accessory building can be placed in the side yard is conditional that the space is large enough to ensure there is no less than 5’ from the plane of the accessory building closest to the side lot line.
- Regardless of size, no accessory building may be closer than 2’ (600 mm) to any property line.
- The edge of any eave on an accessory building may be no closer than 18” (450 mm) to any property line. Depending on the width of the overhang, a building face may need to be more than the 2’ minimum to accommodate the minimum distance for the edge of the eaves.
- There may be no windows or passage doors on building face unless it is at least 4’ (1200 mm) from a property line.
- An overhead door large enough to be used for vehicle access must be at least 5’ (1500 mm) from a property line.
- Garages require concrete floors.
- Garden sheds may be placed on crushed rock or other free draining material and the floor constructed of preserved wood or other material that will not rot at the approval of building official in lieu of concrete. The floor assembly must be closed off in a manner that will not allow small animals to nest under the shed or allow garbage and other material to collect under it.
- Accessory buildings are limited to 20’ (6 m) measured from the peak of the roof to finished grade. Depending on topography, taller structures may be allowed but these are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the accessory building should not be taller than the principal building.
- It is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure that no accessory building is placed on a registered easement. Information concerning registered easements can be obtained from ISC (Information Services Corporation).
In most residential areas, site coverage of buildings to land cannot exceed 40% and accessory buildings may not exceed the area of the principal building.
How do I know if I can build a Garage, Car Shelter or a Shed on my property?
When a property is already developed, there will eventually come a time when the desire to build an addition or add accessory buildings will come. The Zoning Bylaw, being a bylaw the regulates the use of land by designated zones, is the first step in determining if the project may proceed. Criteria such as distance from lot lines and overall site coverage are to be considered.
Draw a site plan (to scale) that shows the property lines and all the existing structures on the property. Dimension is everything because these numbers are used to determine whether the plan meets the criteria of the zone in which the property is located. A check sheet is available from the Building Department as a reference and is also part of the building permit application package. It is important to note that if a non-conformity does exist on the property, it may not be increased per The Planning and Development Act. An example is a building that is too close to the property line may not have an addition built onto it that is also too close to the property line.
Determine and draw onto the site plan all underground and overhead utilities. Consider the potential costs of having to relocate utilities into your project. Existing landscape features may also be an issue to consider. Large trees also have large root systems. Undermining a root system may require the removal of a tree and result in additional costs.
Building additional storeys onto an existing structure is possible, however, an engineer will be required to consult as to the suitability of the existing foundation and its ability to support the additional loads that the construction of another story(s) will impose.
The City of Swift Current does not do inspections to determine if property owners can apply for permits. The process is to apply for a building permit with supporting documents being a site plan, floor plan(s), sections, material lists, contractor quotes, etc. and upon review, the permit is approved if it meets zoning and building code requirements or rejected if it does not meet zoning and building code. When a permit is rejected, the applicant has the opportunity to resubmit under the same permit application.
Car shelters are fabric buildings and the National Building Code speaks to design criteria for them. If a fabric building is being used as an accessory building for a single family dwelling, the sides must be at least 2 feet from the property line and the zippered door side must be at least 5 feet from the alley property line. If you want to set one up and you are on a corner lot, the door must be 10 feet from the flanking street property line. Accessory buildings are only allowed in the rear yard.
Any structure that is 100 sf in building area or greater requires a building permit. If the structure is smaller than 100 sf, no permit is required by the property owner is obligated to follow building and zoning regulations.
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Barrier-free design means that everyone has the same ability to access buildings and events. All new construction in the City of Swift Current is inspected for ensure compliance with the minimum requirements of the National Building Code. The Building Official works with property owners undertaking interior renovations of existing buildings to improve the accessibility. The Construction Codes Act and Section 3.8 of the National Building Code provide for the requirements for barrier-free design in Saskatchewan. For more information, please visit the following links:
Barrier Free Saskatchewan The Barrier Free Saskatchewan (BFSK) steering committee has put forward 14 principles to be the foundation for an accessibility act for the province of Saskatchewan. These principles are closely aligned with Barrier Free Canada, Barrier Free BC, and Barrier Free Manitoba. We want the Province of Saskatchewan to pass an Accessibility Act with these principles intact so we can become a barrier free province.
Accessibility Legislation for Saskatchewan The first phase of engagement is now closed. The initial engagement ran from February 4 to March 31, 2021, and provided an opportunity for Saskatchewan people to share their ideas and suggestions for accessibility legislation. Engagement activities included surveys and opportunities to ask a question or share a vision for a more accessible Saskatchewan.
Guide: Barrier-Free Design This guide is intended to provide advice to owners, building occupants, designers, building officials, and other stakeholders regarding the various requirements for barrier-free design applicable to buildings in Saskatchewan.
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Here is some information regarding building a deck:
- decks with roofs require piles and are considered part of the principal dwelling and must adhere to setbacks
- decks without a roof may encroach into a required yard if it is under 5’ in height as measured from top of floor to top of grade and is used to access a door on the house
- full site plans showing the house, all accessory buildings, and the deck are required for a building permit
- any deck over 8” from top of floor to top of grade requires a building permit
- any deck 25 sq.ft. (5' x 5') or over; OR 3 risers or more requires a building permit
- any changes to a deck requires a permit except for replacing the existing decking with the same material
- any deck that exceeds 24” as measured from top of floor to top of grade requires a code compliant railing.
for more information about construction: http://cwc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Prescriptive-Residential-Exterior-Wood-Deck-Span-Guide.pdf
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Registered easements are no build zones on a property. The exception is for fences to separate properties. Should someone ignore this, the holder(s) may order the removal of the improvement, at the property owner's expense.
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Fences in residential zones do not require permits for their construction, but are subject to a few criteria:
- Height is limited to 2.0 m (6’-6”) when measured from the higher side of a lot, and is restricted to the rear portion of the lot which starts from the building plane closest to the narrow street face and runs to the alley (or back of lot where no alley exists);
- A fence may only be 0.8 meters (2-8”) high in the front yard. The front yard runs from the front plane of the house to the street.
- The use of barb wire and electrified fencing in residential zones is not permitted;
- Placement of fences between private landowners is not adjudicated by the city and disagreements are deemed as civil matters; and
- Fences are not to be built on city property. Please note that boulevards (measured from the back of a sidewalk) can range anywhere from 7’ to 11’.
There are no regulations regarding fence placement and ownership. Because of this, no one should ever assume that a fence is constructed on the property line. If there is a dispute between neighbours regarding fence ownership or placement, this is a civil matter and the City of Swift Current will not render a judgement. The only way to determine on whose property a fence is physically located is to have a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor carryout a survey. Fees for this service are charged by the Surveying Company.
When constructing a fence around or near a fire hydrant, allow 1.0 metre (3’) distance away from the hydrant.
Do not build your fence on City property. If a fence is located on City property and needs to be removed because the City must do work on sidewalks (as an example), it will not be replaced by the City.
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The following are the minimum standards to be applied from Section 3.29 of the City of Swift Current Zoning Bylaw 24-2014:
- All areas of a site that are not covered with buildings or parking areas are to be landscaped. Paving or covering the entire site with aggregate (gravel is not permitted).
- Landscaping goes to the edge of the property line. If the owner landscapes the city owned portion of land located adjacent to sidewalks in anything other than grass, they do so at their own expense. If the City needs to access the land to do repairs to sidewalks and streets or install any underground utility, the City will only repair the area back to a grass condition. Before planting any trees or shrubs, the home owner is to discuss their plans with the appropriate City department(s).
- In planter beds, organic mulches are to be used. In-organic mulches may be used in areas other than planter beds and the total area of these mulches (like river rock or pea gravel) are limited to not more than 25% of the site area. Also, wood planters are allowed at the front of a property, however, boulevards (measured from the back of a sidewalk) can range anywhere from 7' to 11', so beware, if the City is ever required to do any maintenance work, if the planter it situated within the boulevard, the City will remove the planter but will not replace the planter because of its placement on the City's boulevard.
- Landscaping is to be completed on new residential development within 12 months of project completion.
Other landscaping considerations:
- Fences are subject to regulations regarding overall height and the use of barb-wire and electrified fencing is not allowed. Fences are not to be placed on City property as this area is reserved for when the City or other utilities who may need to work there. Remember, when planning any job that involves digging more than the depth of a spade to call Sask 1st Call (1-866-828-4888) and have all underground utilities marked. For more information regarding fences, please refer to our summary of fence regulations.
- Take into consideration the mature size of any trees and shrubs. Any planting on the corner lots are subject to the same height regulations as fences and must not encroach within 1.0 m of any fire hydrant or utility box. Consider the root ball of your planting and how far it will grow, especially if it is a front yard planting as roots can grow into sewer lines and cause blockages and back-up into your basement. Look up. Will the mature tree be growing into overhead lines or into your neighbours yard? Does the tree produce fruit that will become a nuisance? Also consider the type of tree you are planting and its expected life. Spruce trees are lovely when they are small for example but are costly to remove and will damage lawns and sidewalks with their roots as they mature.
- While there is no requirement to have a lawn, any landscaping is to be maintained in an orderly and generally pleasing manner. Yards that are deemed to be a nuisance, overgrown, or full of weeds are subject to the regulations of the Nuisance and Abatement Bylaw. Please be a good neighbour and consider landscape plans that you can manage or can afford to have a third party maintain for you. If you are going to be away for extended periods of time, consider low-maintenance landscaping options.
Click here to view some Lot Grading Guidelines.
A property line locate can only be done by a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor. A Real Property Report may be used by a property owner to assist in the locating of a property line.
The City does not provide copies of Surveyor Certificates or Real Property Reports even if there is a copy in the building file as these are copyright documents to the surveyor who prepared it. For more information about Real Property Reports. Please refer to: https://www.slsa.sk.ca/real_property_reports.php.
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MOVING BUILDINGS INTO THE CITY
New and previously lived in homes may be relocated into the city. The same rules for zoning apply and a site plan showing setback compliance is required. The building permit application requires:
- Site plan fully dimensioned that also includes city sidewalks, utility poles and pedestals, existing trees, and proposed surface drainage.
- Foundation drawings.
- Photos of all building face elevations.
- Details of construction (floor assembly, wall assembly, and roof assembly).
- All homes moved into the city are required to meet applicable life safety regulations in effect.
Please refer to Implications of Moving and Existing Building for more information if you are considering moving a home.
MOVING A MOBILE HOME
A moving permit is required through Engineering Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 306-778-2748. Their office is situated at the City Service Center located at 2074 South Service Road West.
For the anchorage of the unit, a Building Permit is required through the Planning & Growth Development Department. Along with completing the Building Permit Application Form, a drawing is required, showing how the unit will be anchored and what it is being set on. In addition to that, a site plan is required to show the placement of the unit in relation to the lot lines. If a deck or porch is proposed, this is a good time to add that information with the permit application. As each unit may be different in their structure, the Building Official needs to see what is specific to the unit. The manufacturer can supply this information or the permit applicant can use the CSA standard.
There are some zoning restrictions that should be considered. If the zoning designation of the location where the mobile home is intended to be moved is an existing use (eg. in a UR District) and the intent is to utilize existing vacant sites, there would not be any zoning restrictions and a Development Permit would not required. The Mobile Homes and Mobile Trailer Courts Bylaw No. 2-1983 should be referenced for compliance.
Similar regulations are outlined in Zoning Bylaw No. 24 – 2014 for an R4 Mobile/Manufactured Home District.
A plumber is required to do the plumbing connections, an electrician to hook up the power and a gas fitter (may also be the plumber if he or she has the credentials) to connect gas if required. The Building Official requires copies of those permits as part of the building permit conditions.
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Technical Safety Authority of Saskatchewan may require an application and detailed plumbing diagrams prior to any installation of any new plumbing. For more information, please contact TSASK at 1(866)530-8599 or email email@example.com
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- R -
The City of Swift Current does not currently have a licensing or rental suite registry program. If you have a concern about a suite of residential occupancy that you lease/rent, any issues regarding your agreement are between yourself and the property owner and any claims or disputes are managed by the Office of Residential Tenancies. More information about this provincial department is available at https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/government-structure/boards-commissions-and-agencies/office-of-residential-tenancies
Before agreeing to sign a lease agreement, things that you should look for that are important to your safety and security are:
- Suite entrance door(s) equipped with a dead bolt.
- The entry door(s) has a way of identifying who is outside by either a window or a door viewer.
- Any stairs on the interior of the suite that are three risers or more in height have a handrail that runs continuously along the entire flight of stairs. In residential occupancies, the handrail may stop and start at landings.
- The suite has its own heating control. If the suite has been developed in the basement of a house, the heating should not be from a forced air furnace situation that serves more than one suite.
- The suite needs to have smoke alarms installed. The exact location and whether they are wired or battery operated has varied over the years with code revisions. Unless there are major renovations/alterations to a suite, there is no obligation for the owner to upgrade the smoke alarms system to the current standard of one smoke alarm in each sleeping area and the hall serving the sleeping area, wired into a lighting circuit and inter-connected that if one alarm sounds they all sound. In all circumstances, smoke alarms are to be replaced after being in use for 10 years. If the current installed smoke alarm does not have a “replace by” label on the smoke alarm, it is more than 10 years old and should be replaced. Batteries should be replaced twice a year in battery only units and once a year in wired in units. The battery is a back up so the alarm will function when the power goes out. For your own safety, as a tenant, you should test the alarm once a month with the “press to test” button and report any malfunction of the alarm immediately to your landlord.
- Windows from sleeping area need to open without any tools or special knowledge. When the window is open, there needs to be sufficient room that a person can get out of the opening. The long-standing standard is 3.8 square feet of clear opening with no dimension of the clear opening less than 15 inches.
- Windows that are within 6 feet from finished grade need to have a lock system that prevent unwanted entry into the suite.
- Windows require screens that will prevent insects (flying and crawling from entering)
Building permits are not required for the installation or maintenance/repair of the above listed items.
The Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act states that the owner of each building in Saskatchewan shall ensure that the building is designed, constructed, erected, placed, altered, repaired, renovated, demolished, relocated, removed, used or occupied in accordance with the building standards. If you wish to develop a suite of residential occupancy (whether in a house or an apartment building), or renovate an existing suite, a building permit application and drawings are required before commencing any work. The items listed above are a small portion of what is required when an existing suite is altered or a new one developed. As the building official is restricted by the act from designing, please consult with a competent designer to assist in preparing your plans for permit approval.
Retaining walls are structural elements that require building permits when the wall is 24”/600mm or more in height as measured from top of grade to top of retaining wall. When a wall exceeds 48”/1.2m in height, an engineered plan or system documentation is to be submitted with the building permit application. Currently, a retaining wall under 24"/600 mm is considered as a landscape feature and a building permit is not required. Walls may be constructed of concrete, wood, or other materials capable of the soil loads potential imposed upon them.
When a retaining wall is constructed between properties, the onus is on the party constructing the retaining to wall to ensure its placement on the correct property. Retaining walls are not expected to last forever and like any other structure, repair and maintenance will be required to maintain the integrity of the retaining wall. When an issue regarding a retaining wall arises between two properties, the matter is deemed to be civil in nature and City of Swift Current does not get involved.
When constructing a retaining wall between the private and public property (owned by the City of Swift Current or Her Majesty the Queen), the wall is to be built on the private property unless arrangements have been made with the City. Allowances to build on City property will be reviewed on a property specific basis. Public land is often used for the burying of infrastructure or future development and/or repair of roads and sidewalks. If a retaining wall is constructed by a home owner on public land, the City is under no obligation to repair or replace it if it needs to be removed or is damaged in the carrying out of work on City owned property.
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SETBACK ALLOWANCES(Determining Front, Side, and Rear Yards)
The front yard is determined by the narrow lot dimension that faces a street. In the case of a corner lot, the front yard is still determined in the same manner. The orientation of the house does not determine the front yard. A minimum front yard is required for all new construction projects. In existing neighbourhoods, the front yard may be reduced if there is an established building line. An established building line would be created by all the houses lining up and a new home could be placed on the building line even if that is a shorter distance than the required minimum by the zoning bylaw for the residential zone.
Side yards are typically a minimum of 1.5 meters (5-0”) on interior lots and 3.0 meters (10-0”) on the flanking street of corner lot.
Rear yards are measured from the rear property line. Principal buildings are not permitted to encroach into the minimum rear yard, but there are exceptions for accessory buildings to be in them and for open air decks to encroach into the required minimum rear yard.
SWIMMING POOLS and HOT TUBS
Building permits are required for in-ground, permanent above ground, and hot tub installations. Inflatable kid pools (the ones that typically get a hole within a few weeks and go into the trash) do not require building permits.
Safety rules must be adhered to and are found in the swimming pool bylaw.
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Building Permit Application Process - What Information is Required?
How does the City determine what information is requested on drawings to accompany Building Permit applications and under what authority are these requests made?
The Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act (UBAS) is the provincial legislation that requires local authorities such as the City to administer and enforce UBAS and the National Building Code 2015 (NBC). The NBC specifies the information the City’s Building Official can require for any building permit application, which is summarized as follows:
Div C-184.108.40.206.: General Information Required
- Sufficient information shall be provided to show that the proposed work will conform to this Code and whether or not it may affect adjacent property;
- Plans shall be drawn to scale and shall indicate the nature and extent to the work or proposed occupancy in sufficient detail to establish, that when completed, the work and the proposed occupancy will conform to this Code;
- When the proposed work is changed during construction, information on the changes shall comply with Division C-2.2.2.: Information Required for Proposed Work.
Div C-220.127.116.11.: Site Plans—Information required on the site plan
- dimensions from property lines showing the location of the proposed building;
- the location of every other building from the property line;
- existing and finished ground levels to an established datum at or adjacent to the site;
- access routes for fire fighting.
Div C-18.104.22.168. and A-22.214.171.124(1): Information Required on Drawings and Specifications
- information shall be clear and legible and contain all necessary details to demonstrate conformance with the Code;
- examples of information that should be shown are:
- the name, type and location of the building;
- the name(s) of the owner, architect (designer), and engineer;
- the north point;
- the dimension and height of all rooms, and intended use of all rooms;
-the details or description of the wall, roof, ceiling and floor construction, including insulation; and of the windows and outside doors, including the size, weather stripping, storm sashes, sills and storm door;
- the size and continuity of all pipes, ducts, shafts, flues and fire dampers;
- the location, size, capacity and type of all principal units of equipment;
- the size, shape and height of all chimneys and gas vents;
- the size and location of all combustion air and ventilation openings;
- the location and fire-resistance rating of required fire separations.
Div B-126.96.36.199. and 188.8.131.52.: Surface and Ground Water
- building shall be located and the site shall be graded or water shall be directed away from building assemblies so as to prevent or accommodate the accumulation of surface water against the building or adjacent buildings;
- Also under Section 6 of UBAS Regulations—Ground Elevations: no owner of a building or an owner’s contractor or employee shall cause or permit the ground elevations of a building to be changed so as to place the building or part of the building or an adjacent building in contravention of the code.
The City has also implemented design standards and construction specifications to assist designers, developers, and consultants when developing or performing work within the City that directly or indirectly impacts City infrastructure—such as surface water drainage and stormwater management. These standards may be found on the City’s website at this link: Development and Construction Documents
Accessing National Codes
The National Research Council writes the model National Building, Fire, and Plumbing Codes and a variety of information can be found here: https://nrc.canada.ca/en/certifications-evaluations-standards/codes-canada . The National Building Code references standards that are commonly referred to as the electrical and gas codes. These standards may be used alone or when a building permit is issued, under the overall jurisdiction of the National Building Code.
An individual may get one digital copy of any code after creating an account with the National Research Council. Please refer to the April 26, 2019 press release for more information: https://nrc.canada.ca/en/stories/construction-innovation/free-electronic-access-codes
National Energy Code for Buildings (NECB)
The NECB applies to new buildings, additions and major alterations. Contact the City of Swift Current's Senior Building Official to determine which requirements apply for a specific major alteration project. In addition, for buildings or additions built after January 1, 2019 that are designed and constructed in compliance with the NECB, the owner must maintain compliance with the NECB for all future alterations. Please refer to NECB Compliance Information for further information/definitions.
As a contractor, it may appear that this information may not have been required on other Building Permit application drawings. This is because the same information is addressed during the Development Permit process. It is not the City’s intent to make things difficult or onerous for contractors, but to avoid situations where this information was not provided and resulted in adverse affects to the neighboring properties. The City’s objective is to facilitate development to benefit the community as a whole, and we will continue to work with applicants and all of our contractors to ensure that goal.We have provided some additional information that may be useful to you.
- Guide to Demolition (no reconstruction)
- Guide to Demolition (reconstruction)
- Guide to Residential Construction
In order to demolish or move a building (Commercial or Residential) either within the limits of the City or outside of the City of Swift Current, a demolition permit or a moving permit should be obtained.
Commercial Building Permits
All Commercial Building Permits are handled by Cynthia Starchuk 306-778-2714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two complete sets of plans are required for any commercial permit. The Building Official will circulate the plans to the appropriate outside agencies if applicable for their comments prior to approval.
Should any changes be required, the Building Official will contact the Applicant.
Inspections are carried out on a routine basis throughout construction.
All Residential Building Permits are handled by Cynthia Starchuk 306-778-2714 or email@example.com.
Two complete sets of plans are required for any new residential house. The inspector will review the plans and issue the permit.
Should any changes be required, the Inspector will contact the Applicant.
Inspections are carried out on a routine basis throughout construction.