Building grades for sidewalk and street elevation

A building grade is an official indication of the design elevation along the property line to ensure that:

  • Buildings do not exceed the height limits of zoning regulations
  • Entrances for proposed buildings come level with existing or future city sidewalks, driveways, curbs, and streets
  • Water drains from the site without causing damage


Official building grades are required for development permit applications (DE) for any of the following situations:

  1. Any property in these zoning districts:
    • BCPED
    • C
    • CD-1
    • CWD
    • DD
    • DEOD
    • FC-1
    • FCCDD
    • FM-1
    • FSD
    • HA
    • M&I
    • RS (see note below)
    • RT

      Note: Except RS-1, RS-1S, RS-3, RS-3A, RS-5, RS-5S and RS-6 districts. In these districts, existing grades provided by a registered Land Surveyor will be accepted for outright OR conditional one-family dwellings.

  2. Any development permit application that has:
    • Multiple dwellings
    • Underground or covered parking
    • A building face within six metres from a street or lane boundary of a site
    • A dedicated but unopened street or lane next to the site

Building grades for all properties must be approved or designed by Engineering Services.


Register for an account and submit your application online.

Apply online

In person

Apply in-person at Client Services (see contact on this page) with the following items:

  1. Street address
  2. Legal description
  3. Your name and contact information
  4. Completed building grades application form  (108 KB)
  5. Payment of the review fee

Next steps

We'll do an initial review of your application and let you know who needs to design your building grades: either you, us, or both.

For buildings requiring the services of an architect, the building grade design is required to be completed and certified by a professional engineer or architect registered in BC. For other buildings, the building grade can be prepared by the building's designer.

If you need to provide a building grade design, provide a copy of:

  • Site survey plan and files, per our Building Grades Survey Standards
  • Building grade design plan and files, per our Building Grades Design Guidelines

Once we receive your building grade survey and design, we'll review the files and contact you if any revisions are required. Once the survey and design are acceptable, we'll send you the accepted copy.

Building grade survey standards  (140 KB)

Building grade design guidelines  (130 KB)

In most cases, City building grade designs are required where:

  • Adjacent roads do not have existing curbs
  • Adjacent roads are planned for upcoming reconstruction or capital improvements that could change the road grades
  • Adjacent roads are in poor condition, exhibit signs of settlement or drainage issues
  • The site is in a peat soil area

If your application needs a City building grade design, you need to pay the building grade design fee.

The times below are based on typical applications.

The amount of time it takes to issue a building grade depends on the outcome of the initial review. Some applications take longer because they need more complex designs, consultation, or other coordination efforts.

Application phase Processing time
Initial review  1 to 2 weeks 
Design by you As required 
Review by us  1 to 2 weeks after you submit your design 
Design by us 6 to 8 weeks 


Property length Review fee Design fee
Up to 31 m $430 $1,010
31 – 90 m $570 $1,150
90 – 150 m $710 $1,710
150 – 300 m $1,000 $2,570
300 m or longer $1,580 $3,710

 Property length is measured along the street, lane, easement, right-of-way, or a combination of these.

The review fee covers the City’s costs to:

  • Do an initial review of the application
  • Do a detailed review of the your building grade survey and design
  • Accept the final building grade plan

The design fee covers the additional costs for survey and design work when the City will be completing designs.

Contact Client Services about building grades

5th floor, Crossroads
507 West Broadway
(at Cambie St)
Vancouver BC, V5Z 0B4

Monday to Friday
(except holidays)
8:30am to 5:00pm

Phone: 604-871-6730

Building grades application