Self-construction and the RBQ License

Many wonder what self-construction in Quebec entails, what rules are in force if a person wishes to build a house, a chalet or any other building in order to live in it, or for another member of the family?


Here is the list of buildings that can be constructed without holding an RBQ license. Within what is permitted by the RBQ, the following work is never authorized:


Work NOT AUTHORIZED are the following:

  • electrical installations
  • installations designed to use or distribute gas
  • petroleum equipment installations.



The house you live in

You don’t need a licence to build or renovate your single-family dwelling and its installations, for example the garden shed or patio.

Definition of a single-family dwelling : 

Applies to a construction that house only one dwelling, such as a detached house (bungalow, cottage, chalet), semi-detached or in a row. This interpretation can be broader in the context of a multi-generational home.

The condo you live in

For work done in the common portions of your condominium, a licence is required.

**Common portions : Any space outside your condo, such as corridors, stairs, etc.

In the private portions of your condominium, no licence is necessary to carry out:

**Private portions : The private portions are the different parts of the building which are the property of a specific co-owner, and of which he has the exclusive use. (Civil Code of Quebec, article 1042). This being the interior of your condo.

Work included in the Schedule IIIRepair, maintenance and renovation work estimated at less than $20,000 $
In the private portion of your condo, you may carry out the following work without a licence, among others:
■ painting
■ wallpaper
■ jointing
■ gypsum
■ flooring (raft wood, hardwood, floating floor, ceramics, carpet, linoleum, etc.)
■ kitchen cabinets and countertops.
In the private portion of your condo,  you may carry out the following work without a licence if it is estimated at less than $20,000 :
■ repair on your heating system
■ repair and maintenance of your plumbing installation.

A chalet used by you or your family

f your chalet is intended for your personal use or your family’s, you don’t need a licence to build or renovate it. This also applies to any of its installations, such as a garden shed or a patio.

A house, apartment, condo or chalet you rent to others

If you rent a house, apartment or condo to other people, you may only do the work included in the Schedule III of the List of licence subclasses, as well as repair, maintenance and renovation work estimated at less than $20,000.


A house or condo intended to be sold

You must hold a contractor’s licence to:

  • buy a new house or condo, renovate it and sell it
  • build a house or a condo in order to sell it afterwards.

Indeed, since the ultimate goal of this work is to make money, you will be considered as a contractor.

The property of a friend or family member (volunteer work)

f you’d like to help a friend or family member carry out construction or renovation work, you should know that if this work benefits you in any way (financial or other), you must hold a licence since you will then be considered to be a contractor.

Here are some examples :

  • John agrees to take part in some construction work at Joanna’s house without being paid. In exchange, Joanna, who is a trained accountant, agrees to do John’s accounting and prepare his income tax returns. Since John benefits from this arrangement, he needs a contractor’s licence to carry out the work.
  • Mustapha asks Mark to help him tear down his garage. In exchange, he agrees to let him keep the materials he recovers, to either sell or use them for other purposes (building furniture, etc.) Since the demolition work benefits, Mark, he will need to hold a contractor’s licence.
  • Adriana owns a building with 8 housing units. She agrees to reduce Jack’s rent if he carries out renovation and maintenance work on the building’s common areas. Since Jack benefits from the situation (reduced rent), he will need to hold a contractor’s licence to carry out the work.
  • Sinh helps his brother repaint his balcony. Once the work has been completed, Sinh goes home with, as his sole benefit, the feeling of a job well done. Since his brother’s gratitude is not considered to be a benefit, he does not need to hold a licence.

First of all, you should know that in addition to knowing whether a license is required, you must not forget that during a self-construction, the structural work is subject to the CCQ.

In addition, some people seem to find it easy to self-build, but it is important to ensure that all the steps are completed in order to avoid major problems, fines and to ensure that you have a building compliant and safe.

Often for a first construction, owners deal with a 1.1.1 general contractor for the construction of the frame, allowing them to obtain a guarantee plan. The owners can then carry out the remaining work themselves and contract out plumbing, electrical and ventilation work, among others.

This option allows you to save money, obtain guarantees and also have control of the materials and design.

As for complete self-construction, it will allow you to choose materials and a unique design to your taste and will allow you to save a lot of money, which is not always the case with a general contractor, who takes care of the construction process from start to finish.

The important thing is to know your limits and to make sure you are well prepared before undertaking a project of this magnitude which will basically require obtaining a mortgage loan, permit applications, knowledge laws and standards and the race against the clock to find the time to overcome all the challenges that will come your way.

You are the only person that knows your own limits.

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