Building? The Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission reminds residents you likely need a permit

St. Stephen – If you are planning on building a shed, a garage, or any other type of structure on your property in New Brunswick, you are required by law to obtain a building permit from the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission (SNBSC). There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in most cases, if you are building without a permit, there could be some pretty serious repercussions.

Alex Henderson of the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission said the process to obtain a permit is quite simple, and they encourage everyone in St. Stephen, St. George, Saint Andrews, Harvey, and McAdam who wants to build to go onto their website at www.snbsc-planning.com to download a permit form for your community. Henderson said some communities, such as Blacks Harbour and Campobello, have their own arrangements and do not work with the SNBSC.

“All the other rural areas, Harvey, McAdam, St. Stephen, Saint Andrews, and St. George, we do planning and building services together,” said Henderson. “Go to the website and on there are the fees and forms link, and you can see the various types of applications you might need for what your project might be. Obviously, we can always be a phone call away, and help people through the process of applying.”

Henderson said there are occasions when other types of permits may be needed. For example, if you are building in an area that is close to a wetland, you will need to have a special permit. He also noted that if you are doing any type of building, you must apply for the permit prior to construction, as required by provincial law. The fees for building permits depends on the community and the scope of the project, and can range from $25 to several hundred dollars. It is against the law to begin building without a permit.

If you do not obtain the proper permit for building, the repercussions can range from a stop work order, an order to comply if something is already built, fines, and even court orders to go onto the property and demolish what has been built.

“It’s an offense under provincial legislation to build a structure without a permit,” said Henderson. “There are public safety issues that can happen. Basically, what we do with these permits is one, we ensure that you’re meeting provincial regulations, for example, setbacks from highways. You’re not building in a wetland is another example. Then, there’s local regulations that make sure you match with what the community’s vision is. Then, there’s code reviews. We make sure that what you’re building meets the national building code, and meets the minimum safety standards therein.”

There are some cases where building permits aren’t necessary. Henderson gave an example of building a camp. If the camp is being built in a rural area, and it is less than 625 square feet, there is no building permit requirement because camps do not have to be built according to national building codes, although a development permit is required. If the camp is larger than 625 square feet, building permits will be required.

“You could build that camp out of straw bale or whatever you like, it’s fine,” said Henderson. “It’s just once you go over that (square footage) you’re now having to build to the national building code. That said, if you build any structure, you still need to obtain a development permit instead of a building permit. We need to make sure you still follow the community’s regulations for planning and you’re not running contrary to other provincial regulations when it comes to land use.”

When it comes to general landscaping, there are no provincial permits needed, although it is necessary to contact your municipality as they may have their own requirements and permits. Henderson said no provincial permits are needed if you are doing general landscaping, even if you are changing the elevation of the property, as long as that change is one meter or less above or below the current elevation. He did add that it is important to talk with the municipality before changing any elevation, because there can be issues with drainage.

Henderson said the SNBSC tries to make the process as simple as possible. They want to help people get the permits they need so they can do their renovations, build structures, etc. and they will help with the forms in any way possible.

“We like to be helpful and provide people with advice that’s going to get them on their way with their projects. The main thing is to get things approved and out the door and get people on their merry way building.”

sarigreen@stcroixcourier.ca