Construction Permits for Backyard Offices

Construction permits for Backyard Offices and Garden Studios are often viewed as a bit of a confusing world. The good news is that in most Canadian jurisdictions a planning permit is not required for a structure with a footprint of less than 10 m2 (107 sq. ft.) which is how we design our structures.

Common Jurisdiction/City rules for Backyard Offices and Garden Studios Permits

Most cities in Canada have a clear statement on their website stating the rules for building less than 10 m2.
Using the City of Calgary as an example the City web site says the following says the following:

  • Buildings under 10 m2 (107 sq. ft.)

Accessory residential buildings under 10 m² (107 sq. ft.) in area typically do not require a building permit, however, they must comply with the rules listed under location and design.

Calgary Backyard Office Permit Requirements Construction Permits for Backyard Offices


The most important rule under location is that the “accessory building” is not within 0.6m of the property line. Being less than 0.6m complicates construction methodology requiring the following:

  • When building within 0.6m (1.9 ft.)of the side property line​ the exterior of the accessory residential building needs to be fire rated with 5/8” type x drywall from floor slab to underside of roof sheathing to interior face of wall assemblies.

Design (Rules)

Design rules cover the percentage of the property that is allowed to be constructed on. This will depend on the Land Use District R-1, R-2, etc. and the size of the property.  Happily, “If the aggregate area of all accessory buildings is under 10 m2 (107 sq. ft.) those structures will not contribute to parcel coverage.” So if this is your only outside structure apart from a garage everything is good. If you already have a shed we may need to look a little closer for properties with smaller backyards.

The exemption details for Calgary are here , Edmonton here and North Vancouver here .

Vancouver’s Backyard Office Permit rules

The City of Vancouver is a little different, they indirectly state that structures less than 10 m2  do not require permits but the permit page says all structures need a permit here .

News 1130: Lower Mainland builders warn of illegal backyard office sheds.

Our Tip!

Our number 1 through to number 10 tip is to ring up your local planning/permit office. Ask them to confirm if your address needs a permit or not. Write down the details of the conversation, including who you spoke to, date and time and exactly what they said. Then email yourself a record of the conversation. You will now be able to refer back to the conversation in the future if you get asked about p

We can help

Wherever you are we will help you through the permitting step as required, completing paperwork, and providing drawings to support the application.

If you have any questions on these rules, feel free to give us a call on 403 470-1659.

Backyard Offices, Garden Studios and Sheds greater than 10 m² (107 sq. ft.)

If you are looking for a larger structure say a 16×10 studio then we are going to need to do a permit application. We will help you with the process providing guidance and the necessary drawings and paperwork.