Record Number of Building Permits Issued in Rural Pictou County

MOPC Level Two Building Officials Mike McKenzie, left, and Travis Spears are kept busy with the recent building boom in rural Pictou County.   Building inspectors play an important role in protecting homeowners by ensuring all building and renovations are done in compliance with the National Building Code.

If the first few months of 2021 are any indication, it will be a busy year for the Municipality of Pictou County's building officials. 

From January to April, the MOPC has issued twice as many building permits as it had this time last year.  There is also a substantial increase in the numbers during the same period in 2019.

MOPC Building Official Mike McKenzie and Travis Spears, both Level 2 inspectors who are qualified to inspect commercial and residential properties, said that during the first four months of 2021, 75 permits had been issued by their department, and 12 of them are for new homes. They expect about another half dozen will be approved in the coming week.

"A lot of new homes are being built, and a lot of people are buying property by the water," said Spears. "We had a good mix of houses, garages, and renovations."

The inspectors say most of the new homes built in rural Pictou County in 2021 are valued at an average price of $300,000.

McKenzie said despite the pandemic and public health restrictions in place for the past year; it has been a busy year for building officials.  

"For about a month at the beginning of the pandemic, it was slow," he said. "We were doing a few permits in March, but then in April, things picked up again."

He said there are some challenges of building or renovating during a pandemic because contractors are having difficulty giving estimated values. After all, the price of materials is regularly fluctuating.

They said their role as MOPC inspectors is to protect the homeowner and ensure their home is being built to National Building Code and the Nova Scotia Building Code Regulations.

"People are often leery of a building inspector, but they should know we are there for their health and safety," said Spears. 

McKenzie added that potential buyers also like to see final inspections when people sell their homes.

If you plan on building a new home, contact the MOPC building inspection department by emailing  or call Mike McKenzie at 902-485-4488 or Travis Spears 902-485-2243.

Building permits are needed for:

New site-built homes, modular homes or mini homes.

Relocation of dwelling, mobile homes or mini-homes.

Construction of an addition to any home or building.

Building a garage or storage shed more than 215 sq. ft

Any structural renovation to an existing dwelling or building.

Any structure that requires a power connection.

A change of use to an existing building. For example, a single residential becoming a two-unit apartment.

What you need to apply for a building permit for a new house:

An approved building lot or, if subdividing land, a subdivision plan drawn and stamped by a licensed surveyor.  About 30 days is required after the submission of plans to the Development Officer for approval.

Where a municipal sewer is provided, a sewer permit is issued by the municipal engineer.  There is a refundable deposit of $50 associated with this permit.  About two days is required for approval.

Where a municipal sewer is not provided, approval from the Department of Environment for an on-site sewage disposal system is required.  About 30 days is required after an application is submitted to the Department of Environment.

An approved driveway permit from the Department of Transportation is needed for all provincially owned roads. About 14 days is required after an application is submitted to the Department of Transportation.

Proof of land ownership is sometimes required by a copy of the legal deed. If you are building on someone else's property, a signed declaration by the landowner must be submitted, giving permission to build on their land.

Development permits are required for the subdivision of properties. About 7 to 10 days is required after a completed application is submitted to the development officer.

Once these documents are presented to the building inspectors, the application process can begin.  It takes about two days for a building permit to be approved by the MOPC.

Periodic inspections will occur during construction. It is up to the homeowner or contractor to contact the MOPC building inspection department 24-48 hours in advance of various inspection stages.