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Planning & Building Services

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Building FAQs

1.1 When is a building/development permit required?

Building/development permits are required throughout the Province of New Brunswick. The following is a general list of developments that require a building/development permit. However, depending on the local building by-law and Zoning Regulations in effect, your project may be exempt. Please contact us and ask to speak with a Building Inspector if you are unsure if you require a building/development permit.

  • Accessory buildings (e.g. detached garages, sheds, baby barns)
  • Decks, ramps, and stairs
  • Fences
  • Swimming pool additions
  • Signs
  • Electrical work (e.g. changing out an electrical panel)
  • Residential buildings (e.g. houses, apartment buildings, mini and mobile homes)
  • Commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings
  • Additions
  • Certain types of renovations (e.g. structural changes to building)

As the property owner, you are responsible for obtaining the necessary permit(s). If you choose to have your contractor or other authorized agent apply on your behalf, make sure that it's done before the project gets started. Also, please ensure that your authorized agent completes the 'Applicant Authorization Form', found in the Forms section, to legally act on your behalf in obtaining the required permit(s).

1.2 How do I obtain a building/development permit?

To obtain building/development permit, you must provide the Building Inspector with detailed information about your project and complete a 'Building/Development Permit Application Intake Form' found in the Forms section. The type of detailed information (e.g. plans, drawings, and other government department approvals) required to be submitted depends on the nature of your project. Applications generally fall into one of two streams: Houses & Smaller Residential Projects or More Complex Projects.

1.3 How much does a building/development permit cost?

The current fee schedule for our municipalities, Rural Community, and LSDs is found in our Fees section. The building/development permit fee depends on the location, value, and nature of the proposed work. In the unincorporated areas, otherwise known as Local Service Districts (LSDs), the fee is combined. In the City of Miramichi, for example, there are separate building permit and building permit fees. Where applicable, the fee for a development permit is a flat rate. In the Rural Community of Upper Miramichi, for example, the fee for a development permit for a single unit dwelling is $20.00.

The fee for a building permit is based on the following:

[Total Value or Cost of the Project] X [Building Permit Fee for Municipality/Rural Community] = [Building Permit Fee]

The 'Total Value or Cost of the Project' includes:
The 'Total Value or Cost of the Project' does not include:
  • Appliances
  • Landscaping
  • Furniture

1.4 What inspections are required?

Generally speaking, four inspections are required. However, depending on the scope and nature of your project, fewer inspections may be required. Please contact us and ask to speak with a Building Inspector to find out exactly what inspections are required.

It is the responsibility of the permit holder to inform the Building Inspector when they are ready for the required inspections.

First (Preliminary) Inspection:
  • Required 48 hours prior to start of work
  • Excavation depth
  • Removal of organic materials
  • Soil type / compaction
  • Setbacks
Second (Pre-Backfill) Inspection:
  • Required 48 hours prior to backfill of foundations
  • Placement of drain tile and cover
  • Damproofing (tar)
  • Foundation depth
  • Quality of concrete
  • Backfill material
  • Footing and wall sizes
  • Anchor bolts
Third (Structural) Inspection:
  • Required 72 hours prior to interior wall finishing
  • Structural components (beams, lintels, walls, trusses, floor joist, framing, etc.)
  • Insulation
  • Vapour and air barrier
  • Ventilation systems
  • Stair framing (headroom) dimensions
  • Bedroom window sizes
  • Backfill height (exterior)
  • Roofing and Siding
Fourth (Final) Inspection:
  • Required 10 days prior to completion
  • Railings and guards
  • Smoke alarms
  • Self-closing hinges on doors to attached garage
  • Construction of exterior decks and entrance stairs
  • Working ventilation system

2. Development Support & Planning FAQs

2.1 What is the zoning of my property?

Development Support & Planning offers a Confirmation of Zoning service. A Confirmation of Zoning is a letter signed by a Development Officer indicating the zoning of a property. The letter also includes a map indicating the location of the property with its PID(s) # (the Property Identification number is found at the top of your Assessment and Tax Notice). If applicable, a Confirmation of Zoning will also include the zoning provisions of the respective zone. This service is especially recommended for making financial or legal decisions. Clients have two options in requesting a Confirmation of Zoning:

  1. Confirmation of Zoning stating only the zoning (or no zoning) of the property; or
  2. Confirmation of Zoning stating the zoning (or no zoning) and whether or not the proposed use is permitted on the property. 

In both options, the cost of this service is $100 per PID# (please see the Fees section). Please note that the civic address you’re inquiring about may have multiple PID#s. You can make a request for a Confirmation of Zoning via fax (506-778-5360), telephone (506-778-5359 / 1-855-647-5359), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or in-person (see the Contact & Location section).

If you would like to determine the zoning of your property on your own, please visit the Zoning Maps section.

2.2 What if my property doesn’t have any zoning?

Unlike municipalities and the Rural Community, unincorporated areas (or Local Service Districts (LSDs)) do not have plans or zoning. As such, zoning does not limit what may occur on properties in these areas.

Please note, however, that properties in unincorporated areas are still subject to regulations of the Province of New Brunswick, including the Provincial Building Regulations 81-126 and 2002-45, and Barrier-Free Design Building Code Regulation 2011-61. Planning Services is the authority having jurisdiction in these areas to issue building/development permits and performing inspections. A permit from the local Health Protection Branch of the provincial Department of Health for an in-ground septic system may be required for any new habitable structures on properties within unincorporated areas. Please be advised that the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure regulations (e.g. Set-Back Regulation 84-292) often affect what sort of development can occur adjacent to provincial roads.

2.3 How do I get my property re-zoned?

If the proposed land use is not permitted on the property you would like to develop, you can submit an application for re-zoning (see 'Application for Re-zoning' in the Forms section). Because re-zoning involves changing at least one by-law (and commonly two), the process takes at least four to six months. Much of this time is for minimum notification periods in the local newspaper and other requirements under the Community Planning Act (please see the 'Process Timeline - Plan Amendment and Re-zoning' handout in the Pamphlets & Checklists section for further detail). The respective Council ultimately has the final say in deciding whether or not to re-zone a property. Council takes into consideration the following when rendering a decision on a re-zoning/plan amendment application:

  • Recommendation made in the Planning Staff Report by a Planner and approved by the Planning Director (see the Meeting, Minutes, & Reports section for examples of Reports);
  • Views of the Planning Review and Adjustment Committee;
  • Feedback from the public participation process (e.g. letters of objection and presentations by members of the public); and
  • Other matters deemed pertinent to the application.

For more information about the re-zoning and plan amendment process, please see Planning booklet '#4 About Re-zoning' in the Pamphlets & Checklists section.

2.4 What is a variance?

If your proposed building-development project cannot meet the Zoning Regulations (e.g. minimum setbacks, maximum height, maximum lot coverage), you can apply for a variance (or legal relief) from the applicable by-law. If approved, you may proceed to applying for and receiving a building/development permit (if all other regulatory requirements are met). The fee for applying for a variance is $250 in all areas of the Greater Miramichi Region (see the Fees section). This fee is non-refundable, even if the request is denied.

A variance is meant to be used occasionally as a legal flexibility tool in extenuating circumstances. Depending on the nature of the variance sought, a decision may be rendered in-house by a Development Officer or by the Planning Review and Adjustment Committee (PRAC). In either case, the variance must be reasonable and consistent with the intent of the by-law. Neighbours within the immediate area (typically 30m (100ft)) may be notified of the proposed development. The Development Officer or PRAC will take public feedback into consideration when rendering a decision.

A variance is not meant to be used as an 'after the fact' tool wherein a project has commenced without first obtaining a building/development permit. Financial hardship is not taken into consideration when rendering a decision on a variance application.

For more information about variances, please see Planning booklet '#3 About Variances' in the Pamphlets & Checklists section.

2.5 What is the difference between a Confirmation of Zoning and a Zoning Compliance Letter?

A Confirmation of Zoning is a letter signed by a Development Officer indicating the zoning of a property (see FAQ 2.1 What is the zoning of my property?).

A Zoning Compliance Letter is a detailed report assessing an existing development in terms of compliance with the current zoning provisions in force and effect. The report also includes a map indicating the location of the property with its PID(s) # (the Property Identification number is found at the top of your Assessment and Tax Notice), the zoning provisions of the respective zone, and other applicable addendums.

At minimum, a detailed site plan is required by the Development Officer in order to assess zoning compliance. The comprehensiveness of a Zoning Compliance Letter will largely depend on the nature and detail of materials submitted for review.

The cost of this service is $200 per PID#. Please note that the civic address you're inquiring about may have multiple PID#s. You can make a request for a Zoning Compliance Letter via fax (506-778-5360), telephone (506-778-5359 / 1-855-647-5359), This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or in-person (see the Contact & Location section).

It is important to note that developments in existence before the registration of the applicable by-law may still be legal despite not being in compliance with the current zoning provisions. This grandfathering of land use rights is called a Legal Non-Conforming Use (see FAQ 2.6: What if my property was developed before the current zoning regulations took effect?).

2.6 What if my property was developed before the current zoning regulations took effect?

If your use and development was legal before the enactment of the latest Zoning Regulations, your property may have 'legal non-conforming use' rights. This is essentially grandfathering of existing property use rights as regulated under Sections 40 and 41 of the provincial Community Planning Act. However, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to establish non-conforming use rights (please see the provincial Guideline for Determining Legal Non-conforming Uses under Sections 40 & 41 of the Community Planning Act). It is important to note that the overall intent of a non-conforming use is that it be phased out and replaced with a use that conforms with the current Zoning Regulations. Despite this, the Planning Review and Adjustment Committee (PRAC) may permit the continuance or modest addition to a non-conforming use development. In summary, the PRAC has the authority to:

  1. Permit the continuance of a non-conforming use if it has discontinued for a period of at least ten (10) consecutive months (by and large, this will only be considered in cases where the use has discontinued for a period of not more than 36 months as per the above-noted Guideline)
  2. Determine whether or not the damage to a building or structure containing a non-conforming use amounts to at least 50% exclusive of the foundation, and therefore prohibiting the continuance of the non-conforming use
  3. Permit the expansion of a non-conforming use in an addition to the existing building, which was built after the use became non-conforming
  4. Permit the conversion of a non-conforming use to a use that is similar and compatible with neighbouring land uses 

Please note that the burden of proof in making a case for non-conforming use rights lies with the property owner. Based on information provided by the property owner and in-house records, the Development Officer will determine whether or not to confirm non-conforming use rights.

2.7 Do I require any type of permit or approval to start and operate my home business?

No municipalities, or Rural Community, under the jurisdiction of the Greater Miramichi Regional Service Commission (GMRSC) currently have a permitting system in place for home based businesses, occupations, or industries. Depending on the Zoning Regulations, these uses may or may not be permitted. Please contact us and ask to speak with a Planner to determine whether or not home based commercial activities are permitted on your property.

In the City of Miramichi, for example, a 'home business' and a 'home industry' have separate definitions. A 'home business', which has less land use impact than a 'home industry', is permitted in most residential, commercial, and mixed-use zones. A 'home industry', however, is only permitted in the 'Rural (RU)' zone. 'Home businesses' and 'home industries' are regulated under Subsections 3.2.1 (p. 30) and 3.2.6 (p. 33) of the City of Miramichi Zoning By-law No. 91, respectively (see the Zoning Regulations section).

2.8 Do I require a building/development permit to install a sign?

[To be completed]

3. Dividing/Consolidating Land, & Subdivisions FAQs

3.1 What is 'Dividing-Consolidating Land, & Subdivision'?

When people hear the term 'subdivision', they often think of a conventional residential subdivision involving a new public street, numerous lots and houses. However, the term also includes the basic dividing and consolidating of land (e.g. splitting one property into two or more lots, or combining two or more properties to form one lot). This service, provided by our office, is called Dividing-Consolidating Land, & Subdivision. The provincial Community Planning Act and the Subdivision Regulation 80-159 control the subdividing of land in most of rural New Brunswick. The municipalities of the Greater Miramichi Region have Subdivision By-laws in lieu of the provincial Subdivision Regulation 80-159. These by-laws determine minimum lot sizes, widths and depths by zone. Please see booklet '#1 Dividing/Consolidating Land, & Subdivision' in the Pamphlets & Checklists section for more information on the subdivision process.

3.2 What are the minimum lot size requirements for a standard house?

The minimum lot size requirements for a standard house (i.e. single unit dwelling) is consistent across the provincial Subdivision Regulation 80-159 and the Subdivision By-laws for all municipalities in the Greater Miramichi Region. The minimums are determined by the availability of public services (e.g. water and sewer). As a general guide, please see the table below for minimum lot size requirements for a single unit dwelling in the Greater Miramichi Region.

  Frontage on Public Street      Depth        Area 
Well & Septic  54m (180ft) 38m (125ft)     4000m2 (1 acre) 
Public Sewer   23m (76ft) 30m (100ft)  690m2 (7600ft2
Public Water & Sewer     18m (60ft) 30m (100ft)  540m2 (6000ft2

 

Please see booklet '#1 Dividing/Consolidating Land, & Subdivision' in the Pamphlets & Checklists section for more information on the subdivision process.

3.3 What if I do not meet the minimum lot size requirements?

If the proposed lot does not meet the minimum lot size requirements under the provincial Subdivision Regulation 80-159 or applicable Subdivison By-law, you may apply for a variance. Please see FAQ 2.4 What is a variance? and Planning booklet '#3 About Variances' in the Pamphlets & Checklists section for more information.

3.4 How long does an application for dividing/consolidating land, or subdivision take?

The application process can take anywhere between one and six weeks to complete; this depends on whether or not variance approval is required to proceed (see Planning booklet '#3 About Variances' in the Pamphlets & Checklists Section and FAQ 2.4 What is a variance? for more information). In general terms, the application process is as follows:

  1. Consult with a Development Officer that specializes in dividing/consolidating land, and subdivision
  2. Submit a Tentative Subdivision Plan
  3. Obtain required approvals from other departments
  4. If applicable, and depending on the type of variance requested, the proposal may be heard by the Planning Review and Adjustment Committee (PRAC)
  5. Development Officer indicates if any revisions to the Tentative Subdivision Plan are required
  6. Final Subdivision Plan is prepared by a surveyor licensed to practice in the Province of New Brunswick
  7. Final Subdivision Plan is approved by the Development Officer 
  8. Approved Subdivision Plan is registered in the New Brunswick Land Registry office