Building Permits For Renovations- Do You Need One?

Most homeowners today are not that knowledgeable about the regulations for obtaining a building permit when it comes to a renovation project. Some homeowners may ask themselves- “Why do I need a building permit for a renovation project?” Well the answer is simple; your home renovation must meet some basic requirements for structural soundness that is set out by the Ontario Building Code as well as Health and Safety requirements. Furthermore zoning regulations will be checked to make sure that it fits into the municipalities requirements.

When renovating your home a building permit will be required when you make any structural changes. This includes additions, removing and relocating walls, adding new window and door openings and even decks that are over 24” above grade or serving as a front entrance to your house regardless of the height. Electrical and plumbing permits will have to be obtained separately. There are some repairs and renovations that may not require a permit such as re-roofing, re-siding, painting, flooring, cabinetry and straight forward window and door replacement.

The items you need to apply for a building permit are as follows. A simple permit form needs to be filled out and also needs to be accompanied with a simple floor plan or diagram of the project with some specs and details of the work to be done. If it is a large scale renovation it will require a working set of drawings that include a site plan, these will also need to be done by a certified designer who has a BCIN number. Ultimately the homeowner is responsible for the building permit, however if you have hired a contractor to do the work you need to discuss who’s responsibility it will be prior to construction and remember to get it in writing so both parties are on the same page.

If you decide to renovate without a building permit when it is required the costs can be great. Aside from putting yourself at risk your municipality can put a “stop work order” on the project until a permit is obtained. They can also make you tear things apart to inspect causing you to re-do work at your own cost. Your house is your home, so don’t try to cut corners to save a little money. It is better to be safe than sorry and to have a piece of mind.