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
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 are set out below:
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
Property Line Locates
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 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.
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.
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 building to be in them and for open air decks to encroach into the required minimum rear yard.
Landscaping of Residential Property
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.
- 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 of 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.
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 on is to have a Saskatchewan Land Surveyor carryout a survey. Fees for this service are charged by the Surveying Company.
Building permits are not required for the construction of a fence, however, there are a few items to be aware of when building a fence. In a residential zone, no one may build a fence using barbed or electrified wire. A fence may be no more than 2.0 meters (6’-6”) high in the rear yard. In this situation, the rear yard starts at the front plane of the house facing the narrow portion of the street and runs to the rear lot line, typically located parallel to an alley. 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.
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.
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 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
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 located correctly to building codes and zoning bylaw requirements.
How do I know if I can build a Garage or 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 does not meet zoning and building code. When a permit is rejected, the applicant has the opportunity to resubmit under the same permit application.
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 and the rear 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.
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 and are found in the swimming pool bylaw.
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 wit the building permit application. Currently, a retaining wall under 24’/600 mm is considered as a landscape feature and building permit are 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.
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.
Regulations for 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.
The City's Building Official uses the National Building Code of Canada (NBC), The Uniform Building & Accessibility Standards Act (UBAS) as well as City established Bylaws to help with the governing of all building in the City.
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.
All Commercial Permits are handled by Cynthia Starchuk 306-778-2714 or email@example.com.
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 Permits are handled by Cynthia Starchuk 306-778-2714 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.