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Decks (Covered and Uncovered)

Before you build, review the information on this page to ensure your project meets all requirements and apply for permits.

Plan Your Build

Every successful construction project starts with a plan. Learn about best building practices and things to know before applying for permits.

It’s important to know where your utilities are, even if your project doesn’t need gas or electricity.

  • Visit Click Before You Dig to schedule free utility marking
  • You can build a deck above underground utilities if the lines aren’t put at risk. Contact ATCO Gas for more information
  • Make sure your completed deck has clearance of at least 3.5 m (11′-6″) between the walking surface and overhead power lines
  • For questions about utilities, contact Lethbridge 311

A setback is the minimum distance allowed between a structure and the surrounding property lines.

Decks more than 0.6 m (2′) in height must meet the minimum setback requirements:

  • Front – 6 m (20′)
  • Sides – 1.2 m (4′)
  • Back – 5 m (16′-6″) for uncovered decks
  • Back – 7.6 m (25′) for covered decks

Decks less than 0.6 m (2′) in height can project into the minimum setback requirements.

Covered decks are required to carry their weight and snow load and prevent against wind uplift. Acceptable foundations include:

  • Pier/post on pad footing, at least 1.2 m (4′) below grade
  • Strip footings
  • Engineered cast in place concrete piles (friction piles)
  • Engineered screw piles

Uncovered decks with a standing platform exactly 0.9 m (3′) or less in height may be supported with a combined concrete pier and sidewalk block on grade.

Decks with a standing platform greater than 0.9 m (3′) in height must be supported on either:

  • Pier/post on pad footing, at least 1.2 m (4′) below grade
  • Engineered concrete piles
  • Engineered screw piles

Guards are not required if the deck measures less than 0.6 m (2′) in height above grade.

Guards are required if the deck:

  • Is between 0.6 m (2′) and 1.8 m (6′) in height. Guards must be at least 0.9 m (3′)
  • Is more than 1.8 m (6′) in height. Guards must be at least 1.1 m (3′-6″)

The maximum space allowed between balusters is 0.1 m (4″).

Handrails are required when a staircase exceeds more than three (3) risers, regardless of height.


Find out which permits you need before starting construction. Permits ensure your work is safe, within City guidelines, and up to code.

Decks more than 0.6 m (2′) in height above grade need to get development approval.

If your project requires a development permit, you must get one before applying for any other permits. Fill out a Development Permit Application, then submit it to

You need a building permit for decks that:

  • Measure more than 0.6 m (2′) in height above grade
  • Have a roof, covering, or walls
  • Support a large structure, such as a pergola, gazebo, or hot tub

You don’t need a building permit for uncovered decks less than 0.6 m (2′) in height above grade.

Be sure to include the following with your building permit application. Missing or incomplete documents could delay the application process.

  • Site plan
  • Elevation plan
  • Design plan
  • Cross-section

How to apply for permits

You can apply for building permits online with eApply.

Development permit applications are filled out and returned to Planning & Design.

If you don’t have immediate access to a computer or internet, visit the Planning & Design counter on the first floor of City Hall. A Permit Technician can help you with your application.


Any project that needs a permit also needs to be inspected. Learn about the different types of inspections and how to book yours.

All decks need a final inspection. You can book a final inspection once work on your deck is complete.

You can book an inspection for weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding stat holidays.

Booking requests received before 1 p.m. will be scheduled for the next day.

Booking requests received after 1 p.m. will be scheduled for the day after next.

A homeowner, contractor, or appointed party must be on site to grant access for the inspector. If an inspector shows up and no one is there to grant access, they will leave a notice to reschedule on the door.

Note: Minors under 18 years old can’t grant access without supervision.

How to book an inspection

There are a few ways you can book an inspection:

Can't find what you're looking for?

Send us an email at or call 403-320-3920.

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