When you have decided to renovate your home there is a lot of things to consider. On the top of your list should always be “do I need building permit?”

A building permit is required to ensure that your construction, demolition and/or renovation project is constructed/completed to the minimum standards of the Ontario Building Code (OBC).

Here is a quick list of common projects that require a building permit:

  • New building construction
  • Additions to existing buildings
  • Repairing or underpinning foundations
  • Structural alterations, new openings for doors or windows in existing walls
  • Installation of new plumbing fixtures requiring new drains and vents
  • Finishing of unfinished areas including basements, attics and commercial areas
  • Solid fuel-burning appliances including alterations to existing appliances
  • Decks and porches including enclosing existing decks, porches or patios
  • Accessory structures such as garages and sheds greater than 10 square metre
  • Replacing exterior cladding material to stucco
  • Septic systems including repairs to existing
  • Demolition
  • Swimming pools
  • Signs

A full list can be found on the City’s official website. Building permits are issued by various departments in your local jurisdiction. A building permit is intended to protect you and your home. That said, you must still research your project, educate yourself and most importantly hire the right contractor!

With the right contractor in place getting your building permit is quick and easy.  For help picking the right contractor see our blog “How to find a credible contractor”

The process starts with a set of drawings (originally called “Blue prints” and commonly referred to as “Working drawings”). These drawings can be prepared by an architect, engineer, designer or contractor that has their BCIN Number. A home owner can prepare the drawings, however to ensure a smooth application and approval process you should hire a professional. Not to mention an experienced professional will ensure that your renovation is laid out properly to allow for the best use of the space and the best bang for your buck. These drawings will outline the structure, mechanical, plumbing, electrical, insulation, building envelope, a site plan and layout.

These “working drawings/blueprints” are submitted to your building/planning and/or zoning department(s) along with a couple of simple/standard forms that you and your contractor can fill out. You pay a small fee to the City and wait for approval!

The next important question is “Why should you want a building permit”

A building permit is not a complicated or time consuming part of your renovation. Building permits ensure that your contractor must meet minimum Building code standards. Your permit provides you with a trained and experienced building inspector that comes to your project and inspects the work performed. The inspector must sign the back of your permit before the contractor can move on to the next step. This system provides you with another level of protection to ensure your project is completed to the standards that you set out on your drawings.

A credible and professional contractor will always be willing to work with a building permit, as this process also protects the contractor. It is insurance that the work he is performing meets code requirements and the specifications that he priced.

On top of these factors when you go to sell your home you have proof that your renovation(s) was done to minimum code requirements and was inspected and approved by the City. This allows you to get top dollar when you sell or refinance your home. Ensuring you get the maximum return on your investment.

So let’s add up the benefits!

  • The process is quick and inexpensive.
  • A building permit helps protect you and your home.
  • A building permit ensures you get top return on investment at resale.
  • A building permit is an essential part of every renovation, ensure that you do some research, get a permit and enjoy your renovation!

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