How to start a construction business in Ontario

Table of contents

Getting started
Other resources


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

Read online:
Starting a business


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 BizPaL to find licences and regulations that may affect your business.

Use online:
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 Skilled Trades Ontario:
Trades information

Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA)

As a builder or as a vendor of new homes, you must hold a licence with the Ontario regulatory authority. To obtain and keep a licence you will need to meet required competencies and pay initial and renewal fees. You will also have to meet requirements from Tarion Warranty Corporation.

New home construction includes self-contained, single-family unit condominiums.

If you are building a home for yourself on property that you own and you are not selling the home, please speak with the regulatory authority directly. 

Contact HCRA

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:
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, propane fuels and equipment, and petroleum.

Contact TSSA:
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. Use the web portal to make your request.

Contact ON1Call:
ON1Call - Contractors

Excess soil and the Registry

If your construction activities dig up excess soil that must be removed from the site, transported or stored you may have a responsibly to report on the details of these activities. You can find out more about the requirements on reporting excess soil and who needs to file these reports on the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) website.

Contact Excess Soil Registry
Excess Soil Registry

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:
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 enrolled with the Tarion Warranty Corporation.

Contact the Tarion Warranty Corporation:
Tarion Warranty Corporation - Builders

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:
Professional opportunities for industry professionals

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 the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for mandatory insurance coverage. There are some exceptions to the mandatory coverage.

Contact WSIB:
WSIB - Expanded compulsory 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:
WSIB Clearance Certificate

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, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development:
Workplace health and safety

Naloxone kits and training in the workplace

Naloxone kits and training in the workplace

Your business needs to have a naloxone kit if you know or should reasonably be aware of the following scenarios being present in the workplace:

  • There is a risk of a worker suffering an opioid overdose.
  • There is a risk that the worker could overdose in a workplace where they work for you.
  • The risk comes from a worker who works for you.

Naloxone kits can help temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Common opioids include:

  • morphine
  • heroin
  • oxycodone
  • fentanyl
  • codeine
  • hydromorphone

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for more information about the naloxone requirements and the training for the workplace.

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development:
Naloxone in the workplace

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

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development:
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, Immigration, Training and Skills Development’s Jobs Protection Office (JPO). Quebec contractors and construction workers are required to register with JPO and provide proof of competency and fiscal responsibility before they are able to work in Ontario.

Contact JPO:
Jobs Protection Office

Legal questions

Legal questions

You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law, immigration or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.

Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:

Read online:
Pro Bono Ontario - Free Legal Advice Hotline


You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service


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:
Canada Revenue Agency


Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.

Search online:
Business Benefits Finder

Other resources