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Does your c-store renovation need a permit?

It all depends on what’s involved. Here's what you need to know.
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It’s time to update your convenience store. You know it. Your customers know it. Your accountant likely knows it if your sales have been slumping. So when does your convenience store renovation need a permit, and what type? It all depends on what’s involved.

No permit required – Cosmetic updates

If all your store needs is a cosmetic facelift you’re in the clear. You will generally not require a permit to:

  • Paint walls
  • Replace tiles and flooring
  • Redo countertops and cabinetry
  • Update hardware
  • Swap out standard bathroom fixtures and equipment

That said, you will need to ensure any materials and fixtures meet building and health code requirements – such as slip-resistant flooring and anti-microbial countertops.

Trade permit required 

If you’re just planning updates to electrical or plumbing work, HVAC or gas lines, you will require a Trade Permit. Typically, the tradesperson you hire will apply for the permit. 

Electrical permit: For the installation of new electrical services or extension/ alteration of any existing electrical branch circuit wiring. 

Plumbing permit: Necessary when a plumbing system is constructed, extended, or altered (in some municipalities this includes HVAC work). 

Gas permit: Required any time a gas line is added, rerouted, or extended.

Other permits: Some municipalities have less stringent permits to streamline construction, such as The City of Calgary’s Interior Alterations Permit.

Building permit required

Sometimes a convenience store may require more significant renovations to revitalize the space and offer the services today’s customers demand. A building permit is required if you’re:

  • Building or removing walls
  • Expanding space (additions)
  • Conducting major construction/service upgrades
  • Adding a new building or structure 
  • Installing or modifying a sewage or HVAC system

Other implications to consider

  • Any interior alteration that impacts the building exterior MAY also require a development permit (if it results in changes to “form and/or function”).
  • Adding food service and seating can affect occupancy. This may trigger a requirement for stricter fire protection (eg. sprinkler, sinks, hood fan).
  • New construction will generally need to adhere to the current building code (eg. accessibility requirements). This can potentially turn a simple project into Pandora’s box.

When investing in an update, do it right

Getting the right people on board will help you achieve the desired results. Professional designers have in-depth knowledge of design strategies to increase sales. Qualified trades will ensure work passes inspection. Licensed engineering firms will be required to submit design packages and sign off on all completed construction. 

One final piece of advice: don’t do any work without getting the proper permits in place. If you’re not sure what’s required in your municipality, talk to the development department.


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CTM Design is a full-service, integrated engineering, architectural, and design firm, specializing in convenience store renovation and construction. 

Email[email protected] 

Call toll-free: 1-844-640-0990

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