How to Close Building Permits: Part III

8.30.2017 How to Close Building Permits Part III.jpg

*Disclaimer: the content of this blog post is designed to provide information only and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice is required, legal services should be sought.

Permit closure can be broken down to a linear process:

  1. Project reach substantial completion (98% completion, as certified)
  2. Provide necessary paperwork to corresponding inspector
  3. Call in for an inspection
  4. Complete the final inspection with no outstanding deficiencies

The challenge lies in the fact that every project is different; inspection results are evaluated on a project-to-project basis. In addition, construction standards are constantly evolving for the better. Therefore, the following information is provided as a general guideline. It is up to you to decipher the exact requirements to close the specific permit.

Before final inspection takes place, the building inspector asks for specific documents to be provided. Certain inspectors will request for all documents to be compiled into a single PDF.

The list below is organized by trade:


  1. Architecture sign-off letter
  2. Flame spread report (if applicable)


  1. Electrical sign-off letter
  2. ULC fire alarm letter
  3. ESA certificate of inspection
      • ESA permits must be taken out by electrical trade if any electrical work is involved; it must be obtained to start any electrical work.
      • ESA is a third party certifier. ESA certificates can be tracked by specific ESA permit number or the particular project address


  1. Mechanical sign-off letter
  2. Air balancing report

Fire Protection

  1. NFPA 13 letter – sprinkler systems
  2. NFPA 14 letter – standpipe and host system
  3. Fire alarm VI report and letter
  4. ULC emergency lighting letter


  1. Structural sign-off letter (if applicable)

Additional Tips:

    • Getting a hold of the building inspector can be difficult. Try calling between the window of 8:00 am to 9:00 am. Inspectors usually start their early mornings going through emails and paperwork and attend inspections for the remainder of the day. Follow up with an email after leaving a voicemail as a friendly reminder. Remember that inspectors are very busy people.
    • As a continuation of tip #1, put yourself in the inspector’s shoes. Make their job easier by naming and organizing your files and list the attached documents in your email paragraph.
    • If you have exhausted your searches and is still unable to find relevant information on your permit, contact the building inspector for what is required to close the permit. Sometimes it’s missing documents: sometimes it’s outstanding deficiencies, and sometimes it’s missing the final inspection.
    • A permit can be revoked if it is no longer needed (for example, the specified work cease to exist). A refund can be requested.
    • In the case where there are multiple open permits assigned to the exact same location, the superseding permits can be closed right away. The most recent permit will be in effect. Retail projects have a high turnover. Therefore, it is worth checking every time.
    • Demolition permits can potentially be closed off if the new construction is completed. Check out Part II for an elaborated explanation.

That wraps up my two cents on permit closures. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or seek further advice. Closing permits is a tedious task. Stay persistent. Good luck!

Topic Directory:

Part I – Introduction

We explained various reasons why permits remain open long after the completion of a project. From my experience, the best advice is to close your permits as soon as construction is completed. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to close it off.

Part II – Permit Types & Status

We will take a look at the most common types of permits and associated documents required for their closures. Since most of my projects are in the City of Toronto, the information I am about to provide will be the most relevant in Toronto. Minor procedures might differ across different Municipalities but the bulk of the information remains relevant.

Part III – Closure Process & Additional Tips

What specific documents are required to close off a specific permit? What are the procedures? We will answer these questions with additional tips I picked up along the way.

7 thoughts on “How to Close Building Permits: Part III”

  1. Great articles. I have a follow up question for you. My contractor pulled the necessary permits and coordinated the inspections during my renovation (from 2016). I have recently discovered (2 years later by accident) that the City of Toronto’s Building Permit Status lists the status of my permit as “Inspection” with 3 items listed as “Outstanding”. Is it not my contractor’s responsibility to close the permits? At the time he verbally told me we passed inspection but is should there be some kind of documentation that proves this? I hope you can help answer my questions. Thanks in advance.


    1. Hi there, it is formally the contractors responsibility to close the permit. That’s part of the reason for the 10% holdback. The contractor should at the time have generated a city of Toronto permit report declaring your property clear of any deficiencies as part of the close out process. However the process is not practiced due to a lack of information on the owners side and a lack of standardization across the residential industry. I would find out which 3 items are outstanding and talk to the city about closing them. Hope this helps. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for other questions.


      1. Thanks for the reply! I’ve been in contact with my contractor, he said he’ll follow up with it. I just hope I don’t have to “deconstruct” anything to get it closed. Fingers crossed.


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