Fireplaces

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 fireplace

Adding a fireplace is a common project for homeowners, as it provides additional heating and aesthetic value to a room. It is important to obtain permits to ensure safety, to avoid re-doing work in order to fix deficiencies, and to prevent problems with selling your home in the future.

The information on this page relates to:

  • installing a new interior gas fireplace, wood burning fireplace or wood burning stove, into an existing room in a home, and
  • renovating an existing interior fireplace in a home.

For exterior fire enclosures such as fire pits, chimineas or outdoor fireplaces: See Backyard fire pits.

For gas appliances or furnaces: See the gas permits section and mechanical permits section in Trade permits.

 

Gas burning

A natural gas connection provides the gas fuel for the flame (less common is propane). Consists of a firebox, vent, gas line and electrical connection. There are a variety of efficiencies of models; some can produce a heat equivalent to wood-burning. Gas fireplaces start and extinguish via an electric switch, and do not produce ash residue. Wide variety of styles and designs.

Safety codes permits required: Gas permit and electric permit.
See below: What permits do I need?

Solid-fuel burning

Commonly known as wood-burning fireplaces & appliances. While wood is inexpensive, regular wood cutting and storage is necessary. Requires a chimney and regular cleaning. Types include traditional fireplaces, stoves, ranges and space heaters. Energy efficiency is very low. Due to high fire safety risk from hot embers, there are strict safety regulations for installation.

Safety codes permits required: Building permit.  If a gas ignitor is included, a gas permit is also required.
See below: What permits do I need?

Learn more from the following document produced by Alberta Municipal Affairs:
icon_PDFSolid-Fuel Burning Appliances

 

Ethanol burning

Appliances which use ethanol (liquid or gel) to provide fuel for the flame. Ethanol (or bioethanol) must be refilled with use and is highly flammable. Although it does not require venting or a chimney, safety precautions must be taken. Often portable, there are a variety of styles, but are more decorative than functional. Not recommended for use for more than one hour.

Safety codes permits required: none.

Electric

Appliances which produce a simulated fire effect and usually include an electric-powered heating element. May be free-standing, wall-mounted or fashioned to insert into the opening of a traditional fireplace. Does not require venting or a chimney. May be designed to plug into a household electrical outlet, or designed to be direct-wired.

Safety codes permits required: Electric permit is required if the electric fireplace is designed for hard-wired installation, or if a new electrical outlet will be installed.

 

To comply with safety regulations, appliances, accessories, components and equipment are required to satisfy the requirements of one of the following, whichever is applicable:

  CAN/CSA-B366.1, Central Systems;
  CAN/ULC-S610, Factory-built Fireplaces;
  ULC-S627, Space Heaters;
  ULC-S628, Fireplace Inserts and Hearth-mounted Stoves;
  CAN/ULC-S629, Factory-built Chimneys;
  CAN/CSA-B365-01, Installation Code for Solid-fuel Burning Appliances and Equipment;
  ULC-S632, Heat Shields;
  ULC-S635, Lining Systems for Existing Chimneys;
  CAN/ULC-S639, Steel Fireplace Liners;
  CAN/ULC-S640, Liners for New Chimneys;
  ULC-S641, Flue Pipes;
  CAN/ULC-S674-15, Standard for Unvented Alcohol Fuel Burning Decorative Appliances; or
  the requirements of the authority having jurisdiction



The type of fireplace being installed will determine what permits you require. For application forms, see below: How do I obtain permits?

•  Development Permit: Not generally required for installation of an interior fireplace into an existing room of a home.

•  Building Permit: Required for installing any solid-fuel (i.e. wood) burning fireplace or solid-fuel  burning appliance.

•  Gas Permit: Required for installing any gas fireplace or wood fireplace with a gas ignitor.

•  Electrical Permit: Required if there are any electrical services included with the fireplace (i.e. starter).

•  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:  For a homeowner to obtain a gas permit, they must be a trained gasfitter. Otherwise, a licensed gasfitter must be retained. 

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! Call Planning and Development Services at 403-529-8374.



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 above: What permits do I need?). You can then download checklists and forms (below) and complete them.

icon_PDFBuilding Permit Checklist - Solid Fuel Burning Fireplace or Stove (i.e. wood-burning)

icon_PDFResidential Building Permit Application

icon_PDFElectrical Permit Application

icon_PDFElectrical Permit (Homeowner form)

icon_PDFGas Permit Application

icon_PDFGas Permit (Homeowner form)

icon_PDFLand owner consent - Building permits (if applicant is not property owner)

2 - Have drawings ready: 2 copies. See Building Permit Checklist above for requirements.

3 - Bring 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.

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

 

How long will it take to obtain my permits?

Typically less than 6 business days.



To book inspections, phone 403-529-8208 (24 hours).

OR download the inspection request fax sheet, and fax it to 403-502-8036.

When phoning, please provide:

  Job address
  Permit number
  Your phone number
  Contractor name (if applicable)
  Contractor phone number (if applicable)

To schedule an inspection for the following business day, call or fax by 1:00pm.
You can book your inspection for a morning or afternoon, but it cannot be time-specific.
Requests received on weekends or holidays will be processed the next business day.


Rough-in Building Permit inspection requirements for fireplaces:

  Install and complete any structural changes.
  Install and complete all the wall, ceiling and build out framing.
  Install fireplace as per manufacturer's instructions. Do not drywall or cover until rough-in inspection has been completed.
  Have requested documentation on site.

Rough-in Gas inspection: For questions, phone 403-529-8202.

Rough-in Electrical inspection: For questions, phone 403-529-8210.

Final inspection: May be required at the discretion of the Safety Codes Officer.



For important tips on reducing the risk of fire in and around your home, see:

icon_PDFHome Fire Safety Checklist