Building Permits – Be Prepared!

For almost all tenants and landlords, municipal permitting will be a part of occupying your new space. When storage systems such as racking, material handling or shelving is part of your move it, CMI advises all of our clients to prepare, and while CMI is happy to take a leadership role in the permit process, we also feel strongly that clients should understand what is involved.

Many municipalities across Canada now require that the building user (either owner or tenant) apply for and receive a building permit prior to the installation of pallet racking. Requirements vary across provinces and municipalities so it is wise to engage the local offices early to ensure that  all the data required is on your list to be gathered prior to applying for a permit for the installation of a storage system.

Apply for a rack permit together with the building addition or new facility. This allows plan reviewers, the fire department, building inspector and any consultants to review all of the drawings, schedules and engineering details to prevent confusion and reduce the overall time to occupancy. Designers should be cognizant and prepared to address the potential impact free standing racking may have on the building’s structure, equipment and possible interference of the racking on emergency response needs. With the release of updated federal and provincial building code, racking system design has been incorporated in the comments of the code and as a result, more attention to detail is needed.

CMI is prepared to provide system design consultation, engineering (which may include seismic design) services specific to the warehouse system and permit processing assistance. Drawings stamped by an authorized registered Professional Engineer plus Letters of Assurance and Permit Schedules will be part of your submission to the Municipality. Following the installation of the rack design, CMI will arrange for the final site walk-through and final inspection in order to obtain a signed and stamped permit Schedule to submit to the municipality. The result: Your completed Occupancy Permit.

If you are considering a new space for purchase or lease, CMI STRONGLY RECOMMENDS that you contact a local fire protection contractor for a preliminary walk-through of your proposed space BEFORE COMMITING TO A CONTRACT. This is particularly relevant it you want to store inventory above 144″.

You need to know if the building’s sprinkler system will meet code, and if not what expense will you face to upgrade it. A simple visit by a qualified contractor could save you thousands of dollars and many days of stress.

Consider the following as a list of minimum requirements at most permit offices:

Site Plan:

The site plan shows building location on the existing property, occupancy usage, the building classification and fire specifications. The site plan should include the legal property description along with a proper scaled drawing of the proposed work. It may be possible that the original building plans can be obtained from the building landlord, owner or the municipal building department’s microfilm service (fee-based and  written permission from the property owner is required).

Egress Route:

Egress route must be addressed when adding racking systems to ensure there are safe exit routes from all points within the storage space.

Fire Code:

The Fire Code defines rack under Section NFPA 13. The existing sprinkler system may need to be improved and this work may also include the addition of standpipe hose reel locations. Most racking systems require special provisions above 12 feet in storage height. New ESFR sprinkler systems are available for most applications however some existing buildings may require upgrades. CMI will coordinate with sprinkler engineers by supplying drawings and providing design assistance for in-rack sprinklers as needed. Sprinkler design must also address the potential for sprinkler head damage caused by forklift operations. Based on the size and complexity of the project CMI would also recommend a Building Code consultant be engaged to interface between the various disciplines. Stamped letters and drawings will be generated to become part of your permit application.


The rack system may require alterations to the existing building lighting system, fire exit signs,  fire alarm pull station locations.

Permit Slab Certification:

The most common requirement for most rack permit applications is a review of the floor slab. If there are As-built drawings available for the building, the slab information can be readily reviewed. If not, an engineer is required to review a code sample of the slab as part of confirming the existing or new floor slab will withstand the racking loads. CMI will provide the rack loading criteria to the slab engineer to allow him to assess the slab loading. A stamped engineer’s letter  certifying that the slab is capable of supporting the loads will be obtained and become a part of your permit submission.

Permit Site Class: (British Columbia Only)

In the new 2006 BC Building Code provisions were included for a new site classification requirement. The site class now replaces foundation factors and these site classes may be obtained from the soil engineer (geotechnical engineer) on record for the building site. If insufficient data is on file, further soils engineering may be required to determine the site class.

Attention must also be given to access or interference to electrical panels, plumbing, heating or cooling systems as well as overhead obstructions. CMI will provide design and engineering requirements pertaining to the storage system.

Permit costs as well as professional fees related to the site class, site plan, slab certification, sprinkler, lighting and egress design will be levied and CMI can outline these costs, and if asked, we will administer the permit process itself.

Your permit may take from a few weeks to months depending on all the required additional information for your building department to process….so apply early in the process.

Calgary Permit FAQ