How to start a construction business in Ontario

Table of contents

Introduction
Getting started
Regulations
Taxation
Financing
Other resources

Introduction

The construction industry in Ontario is a dynamic, competitive sector that can offer both opportunities and challenges to entrepreneurs. From general contracting to highly specialized restoration, there are many different kinds of construction businesses. Before starting your business, think about the types of construction services your company will provide. Based on your services, there are several steps you will need to take in order to start your business.

Getting started

When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:

  • Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
  • Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
  • Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST

Our business start-up guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.

Read online:
Starting a Business

Regulations

Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use the Canada Business Permits and Licenses Search, powered by BizPaL, to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.

Contact us:
1-888-576-4444
Permits and licences search

Construction and skilled trades are highly regulated. Some common regulations that could apply to your business include:

Industry regulations and safety

Certifications and specialized trades

In order to legally work in certain skilled trades in Ontario, you must have a Certificate of Qualification, which certifies that you have completed the necessary apprenticeship and/or on-site training requirements for your trade.

Contact the Ontario College of Trades:
1-855-299-0028
Ontario College of Trades - training standards
Ontario College of Trades - trade assessment

Electrical safety

When working with electricity, consult the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), a not-for-profit organization responsible for public electrical safety in Ontario. The ESA provides continuous safety services and advice, equipment/product approval inspections, wiring inspections, general inspections, and information on the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.

Contact ESA:
1-877-372-7233
Electrical Safety Authority

Technical standards and safety

Your construction work must comply with the regulations and standards set out by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). Contact TSSA if you are an operating engineer, or if your construction project will include amusement devices; ski lifts; boilers and pressure vessels; elevating devices; natural gas, petroleum, propane fuels and equipment; or upholstered and stuffed articles.

Contact TSSA:
1-877-682-8772.
TSSA - services

Excavation regulation

You must have all underground utilities located and marked prior to starting any excavation work. Ontario One Call (ON1Call) is the single point of contact to request the location of underground infrastructure in Ontario. ON1Call is responsible for administering the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act, 2012.

Contact ON1Call:
1-800-400-2255
ON1Call - Contractors

Building and fire codes

Ontario building code

Your new construction project and your workers are required to meet the regulations and standards outlined by The Ontario Building Code. Your business will need to meet standards such as safety, fire prevention, environmental and technical standards for any construction in Ontario.

Contact the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing:
416-585-6666
Ontario Building Code

Warranty and energy efficiency programs

New home warranties

If your business will be involved in the construction or sale of new homes or condominiums, you must be registered with the Tarion Warranty Corporation.

Contact the Tarion Warranty Corporation:
1-800-668-0124
Tarion Warranty Corporation

Energy-efficient new homes

As a new home builder, you may be interested in the energy efficiency programs, standards and incentives offered through Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to encourage energy-efficient homes. These include the EnerGuide Rating System, R-2000 Home Standard, Energy Star® and other grants and incentives.

Read online:
Energy-efficient new homes - builders

Labour regulations and workplace safety

If you carry on a business in the construction industry as a contractor, sub-contractor, sole proprietor, partner in a partnership, or an executive officer in a corporation, you must register with Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for mandatory insurance coverage. There are some exceptions to the mandatory coverage.
 

Contact WSIB:
1-800-387-0750
WSIB - mandatory coverage in the construction industry

Independent contractors

If you hire an independent contractor to work with your business, you must make sure that they have been issued a Clearance Certificate from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The certificate is issued free of charge and proves that the contractor is registered with the WSIB and has an account in good standing. The certificate also clears you of financial responsibility for WSIB payments.

Contact WSIB:
1-800-387-0750
WSIB Clearance Certificates

Occupational health and safety

You and your employees have the right to safe working conditions. Learn about the health and safety rules and regulations that will apply to your business by contacting the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

Contact the Ministry of Labour:
1-800-268-8013
Construction

Working at heights training

Before working at heights, workers need to complete an approved training program. As an employer, you must ensure workers who use any of the following methods of fall protection while working on construction projects are trained:

  • travel restraint systems
  • fall restricting systems
  • fall arrest systems
  • safety nets
  • work belts or safety belts

Workers who already meet the existing fall protection training requirements have until April 1, 2017 to complete the working at heights training program.
 

Contact the Ministry of Labour:
1-800-268-8013
Working at heights training

Contracting with Quebec contractors

If you plan to hire contractors or workers from Quebec, you will need to ensure that they are registered with the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Jobs Protection Office. Quebec contractors and construction workers are required to register with the Jobs Protection Office and provide proof of competency and fiscal responsibility before they are able to work in Ontario.

Contact the Jobs Protection Office:
1-888-998-9959
Jobs Protection Office

Legal questions

If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Law Society Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service

Taxation

Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

Read online:
Taxation guide

If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12 month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.

Contact CRA:
1-800-959-5525
Canada Revenue Agency

Financing

Canada Business can help you find government financing options for your business. There are programs that apply to businesses across Canada, and others that apply only to businesses in Ontario. Use the Canada Business financing search tool or browse by type of financing.

Search online:
Canada Business: Government grants and financing

Other Resources

Managing

From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.

Associations

If you are interested in finding an association, use our secondary market research service request and have us search for one based on your needs.

You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.