Building Services Division/Ontario Building Code Updates for 2017

Posted On Tuesday February 07, 2017

February 7, 2017 - The City of Thunder Bay Building Services Division would like to advise the public, designers and contractors of the following updates which may impact building construction and building code enforcement within the city.

"Our goal is to ensure everyone is aware of the building code updates as we approaching the spring building season," said Des Stolz, Director of Building Services, City of Thunder Bay. "There are some areas where individuals may be unaware of their responsibilities, such as when a permit is required, or what is legal. We hope anyone involved in construction activity takes the time to familiarize themselves with the Building Code and makes sure they understand their responsibilities, especially the home owner. The Building Services Division is available to assist citizens with any questions."  

Citizen inquiries can be directed to the City's Building Services Division at 625-2574.

2017 Building Code Changes:

The following significant Building Code changes relating to energy efficiency and insulation of building envelopes are now in place for 2017. Highlights include: 

  • New prescriptive compliance packages are 15 per cent more energy efficient than prior packages. This will impact exterior insulation values and continuity, slab insulation, window and door efficiency, skylights, space heating equipment, HRV's and domestic water heaters
  • HRV or ERV recovery ventilators are now mandatory for all prescriptive compliance packages
  • Drain water heat recovery units are now mandatory for all prescriptive compliance packages 

A complete review of the amended Ontario Building Code is required to fully understand these and other changes. The Ontario Building Code is available at

Building Permits - Owner's Responsibility:

Whether construction is being done by the property owner or a contractor, the property owner is responsible for ensuring a building permit is obtained for work requiring a building permit on their property. Charges and penalties, under the Building Code Act, can be pursued and applied to the building owner and/or the contractor(s) if violations occur.

For contractor work requiring a building permit, property owners are advised to seek proof of the building permit issuance.

Plumbing Work Requiring a Permit:

The Building Services Division has seen an increase in illegal plumbing work being performed without a building permit. Plumbing/Building Code/By-law violations will be pursed where occurrences are identified. Building owners and contractors are advised that both may be prosecuted for Ontario Building Code and Municipal By-Law offences.

Building owners are reminded to obtain building permits for plumbing work they do themselves (limited to work in a single family dwelling in which they reside), or seek proof of a building permit for work being done by a contractor (requires a master plumbers license) prior to commencing work.

Examples of plumbing renovation work requiring a building permit includes, but is not limited to:
the installation of an on-demand water heater, installation of a sump pit and related drainage piping, a new bathroom and/or relocation of plumbing fixtures.

Plumbing work not requiring a building permit is limited to: replacement of individual plumbing fixtures remaining in the same location, localized modifications of drains, and general maintenance issues.

Radon Testing and Mitigation:

The Building Services Division has fully implemented radon testing and mitigation requirements for new residential buildings within the City of Thunder Bay. Results from mandatory testing of these projects may determine radon mitigation beyond basement slab and/or foundation wall sealing. This may include a sub-slab exhaust system.

For building renovations and work not requiring a building permit, the Building Service Division advises the public that basement slab and foundation wall penetrations, without adequate sealing and/or exhaust venting, may create or increase radon ingress. Examples of slab and foundation wall penetrations include: structure, plumbing, sump pits, supplementary interior foundation drainage systems, and wiring.

It is recommended all existing buildings, whether renovations have occurred or not, be tested for radon.

Illegal Sump Pump Connections:

Sump pump discharges tied directly into the city sanitary sewer are not permitted under the Ontario Building Code, or Municipal By-law. If these conditions exist, the building owner must disconnect and re-direct to an approved exterior drywell or approved alternate system. Resulting work may require a building permit.    

Utility Easement Clearances:

Owners, contractors and designers are reminded that building encroachments into and over utility easements are not permitted. The following building encroachments are not permitted: weeping tile and crushed stone, footings, foundations, building exteriors, building overhangs and protrusions, roof overhangs, soffit and fascia, and eavestroughing.

Lot Grading:

Owners, contractors and designers are reminded that lot grading and drainage associated with new buildings, additions and alterations must comply with the approved lot grading and drainage plans as included in the approved building permit drawings. Where site conditions and/or building construction variances occur, revised lot grading and drainage plans require approval through the Building Services Division.


Des Stolz, Director Building Services, 625-2573
Alyn Bygate, Supervisor Inspections, 625-2279

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