Detached Garages and Sheds

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Important terms

A garage is a detached accessory building more than 10 m2 in gross floor area, that is associated with a residential use.

A shed is a detached accessory building 10 m2 or less in gross floor area that is associated with a residential use. Other examples of accessory buildings are gazebos or pergolas.


A development permit
covers the what and where a development may proceed. It approves what type of development is allowed on a particular property, taking into account land use and setback issues of the City's Land Use Bylaw.

A building permit covers how it is built. It allows the construction/demolition of structures contingent on meeting the requirements of the Alberta Building Code.

The scope of work being done will determine what permits you require.

When is a development permit required?

A development permit is required when:

  Your proposed accessory building is more than 10m2 in area (any garage), or
  Your proposed accessory building does not meet the Land Use Bylaw rules (height, setbacks, lot coverage, etc.)

If a development permit is required, this must be applied for and approved prior to building permit and trade permit applications.

When is a building permit required?

A building permit is required when:

  Your proposed accessory building is more than 10m2 in area (any garage), or
  Your proposed accessory building will involve the construction of a foundation to support it, or
  Your proposed building is intended for habitation (backyard suite or secondary suite), or
  You intend to demolish any existing building.

What other permits/approvals are required?

Other permits (below) may be required if the proposed accessory building involves specific considerations:

  Electrical Permit: Required for installing or modifying electrical systems, including moving lights or outlets.
  Gas Permit: Required for installing, modifying or adding to any gas system.
  Plumbing Permit: Required for installing or modifying plumbing systems or any plumbing equipment.
  Mechanical Permit: Required for installing or modifying heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
  Demolition Permit: Required for demolishing any existing building or structure.
  Driveway Access Permit: Required for driveway construction.
  Land Owner Consent Form: Required if the property is a part of a condominium, or is otherwise not owned by the applicant.

Do it yourself

As a homeowner, you are able to obtain homeowner's permits for plumbing, electrical, gas and mechanical work. To apply for any of these homeowner's permits:

  You must be doing the work yourself
  You must own and reside in the home
  You must be capable of performing the work in accordance with the Safety Codes Act
  It must be a single-family dwelling (not a condo building, etc.)

Note: Depending on the homeowner's permit you are applying for, other restrictions may apply.
For more info on homeowner's trades permits, phone Planning and Development Services at 403-529-8374 or visit Homeowners trade permits.

Risks when a permit is not obtained

If you, as a homeowner or contractor, do not have permits for work that has been started or completed, there could be consequences if you do not take action to correct the situation, such as:

  Enforcement action issued by a City inspector.
  A fine for building without a permit.
  Having to undo work that has been completed.
  Future legal and financial issues when selling your property or making an insurance claim.
  Having to do more work than was originally planned and budgeted, to fix deficiencies.
  Potential liability to you, the homeowner, in the event of an accident.

NOTE: As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying any penalties, even if you hired a contractor who assured you that permits were not required. Remember, we are here to help! Calling Planning and Development Services at 403-529-8374. 

  Tips for hiring contractors

What if I am not the property owner?

If you are not the owner of the property, then you must get the owner's consent to apply for any changes. Forms are available below: How to apply.

Accessory building requirements:

  The maximum size is 85m2 in area.

  The maximum height allowed is 5.0m.

  If there are overhead power lines, there must be at least 1.0m vertical separation.

  All accessory buildings on a site (parcel) must not exceed a total site coverage of 15%. (Site coverage = area of building ÷ area of lot)

  Accessory buildings must be setback 0.6m from an interior side property line or rear property line, with no roof projection closer than 0.45m, and 3.0m from an exterior side property line.

  No accessory buildings are allowed in a front yard.

garage setbacks

Building near utility lines:

  See free utility locates (below) to find out where your utility lines are before you build.

  No structures are allowed over a gas line.

  No structures are allowed in a utility right-of-way (UROW).

  If you have questions regarding UROWs, contact Planning and Development Services at 403-529-8374.


Foundation/slabs of accessory buildings:

  Garages built of concrete or masonry veneer require foundation walls and footings which are a minimum of 1.2m below grade around the perimeter. OR the design of the foundation must be reviewed by a professional engineer who is licensed in Alberta.

  The maximum accessory building area, slab-on-grade, is 67.6m2. Larger slab-on-grade buildings must be designed by a professional engineer.

  All perimeter thickenings must be a minimum of 300 X 400mm, and include three strands of 15mm rebar around the perimeter.

  The pad must be reinforced with 10mm rebar, placed at maximum 600mm on centre, installed in both directions, properly tied to the perimeter thickenings; or wire mesh tied properly to the perimeter thickenings.

  Pressure treated skids or floor joists are required wherever wood may contact the ground.


General building information:

  When building a rear garage or shed, lane elevations should be determined so that the structure can be built to an elevation that will prevent future drainage problems.

  Exterior walls must be properly finished to ensure protection from the weather.

  No windows are allowed in an exterior wall which faces a property line with a setback of less than 1.2m.

  If the roof slope is less than 4:12, a low slope shingle installation is required.

  Eaves must be a minimum of 0.45m from a property line.

If eaves are less than 1.2m from side yard property lines, the eaves must be protected.


Sheds and other small accessory buildings:

The following applies to accessory buildings which are 10m2 or less in area, such as small sheds:

  Typically, neither development permits nor building permits are required.

  If on an interior lot, typically no setback is required from property lines nor house.

  If on an exterior lot, must be setback a minimum of 3.0m from exterior side yard.

  Must be entirely within your property, including eaves.

  Must not be located in a front yard.

  Sheds should be set on a bed of granular fill or compacted sand.



Please review these user guides before you apply online:
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (new users)
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Development Permits)
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Building Permits)
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Electrical Permits)
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Mechanical Permits)


In person

To obtain the permits you require, you submit an application for each permit, along with other relevant documents, to Planning and Development Services, 2nd Floor, Medicine Hat City Hall, 580 1st Street SE.

1 - Determine which application(s) you need. (See What permits do I need, above). You can then download checklists and forms (below) and complete them.

Development Permits

icon_PDFDevelopment Permit Checklist - Additions and Accessory Buildings
icon_PDFDevelopment Permit Application

Building Permits

icon_PDFBuilding Permit Checklist - Detached Garage or Shed
icon_PDFResidential Building Permit Application

Trades and other permits

  Electrical Permits
  Gas Permits
  Plumbing Permits
  Mechanical Permits

icon_PDFExterior wall claddings form
icon_PDFDemolition Permit Checklist
icon_PDFDemolition Permit Application
icon_PDFDriveway Access Permit Application

2 - Have drawings ready: Site plan (4 copies), elevation plan (3 copies), floor plan (3 copies).
May be required: Floor joist and roof truss drawings (1 copy). See sample drawings below for required specifications.

3 - Have utility locate slips (2 copies). These show the location of underground and overhead utilities, such as gas and cable lines. See free utility locates below.

4 - Bring all these required documents and apply in person at Planning and Development Services, located on the second floor of Medicine Hat City Hall, 580 1st Street SE.

5 - Application fee(s) will be required. The City accepts debit, cash or cheque; no credit cards. List of fees.


What if I am not the property owner?

If you are not the owner of the property, then you must get the owner's consent to apply for any changes.

icon_PDFLand owner consent - Building permits
Development permit land owner consent (included on the   icon_PDFDevelopment Permit Application)


How long will it take to obtain my permits?

Development Permits: Timelines vary based on the type of application and the impacts to the community. More >

Building Permits: Typically less than 6 business days, provided that an approved development permit (if required) has been released.

When planning your accessory building, it is important to learn where and what underground and overhead utilities are located on your property. Locates are provided free of charge, but require a couple of days notice to obtain.

It is required that you provide utility locate slips with your development application. To obtain them, contact:

•  Alberta One-Call (Electric, Gas, Water, Sewer, Telus) 1-800-242-3447

  Shaw 1-866-344-7429

Book online


Please review this user guide before you book online:
icon_PDFUser Guide for ePermit (Inspections)


Book by phone/fax

Phone 403-529-8208 (24 hours) OR download the fax sheet below, and fax it to 403-502-8036.

icon_PDFInspection Request Fax Sheet

Had a recent Safety Codes inspection? Please do our quick survey!

Below are sample drawings for development permits and building permits for residential accessory buildings.
Note: location and width of driveway(s) must be shown on site plan.

 elevation samplesec & floor sampleelevation sample

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Medicine Hat accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.