You probably know that if you want to add a second storey to your home or knock down some walls on your main floor, you’ll need to get a permit before the work begins. But what you may not realize is that you might also need permits for seemingly smaller renovations, such as changing your plumbing, finishing a basement, or adding a window. Here’s why permits are important to get and when you need them:
Why do you need a permit?
Permits make sure that any renovation work you do on your home complies with municipal bylaws and building codes related to structural integrity, health, and safety. The types of permits you may need to get vary by municipality. But in general, the purpose of a permit is to verify that the changes you’ve made to your home were done properly and are consistent with local regulations. In essence, permits ensure that your home is safe for you, your neighbours, and future owners.
What can happen if you don’t get the permits you need?
Permits can be a bit of a hassle to get. Depending on your municipality’s requirements and the type of permit you need, you may need to submit detailed plans of the work you’re planning to do and other documentation. You’ll also need to wait for your application to be processed.
Because of the time and effort involved in obtaining a permit, you may be tempted to proceed with your renovation without getting a permit. However, if you don’t get the permits you need and someone finds out, you can face a number of consequences. For example, your municipality can halt your renovation, make you remove the work you’ve already done, and penalize you with a fine. You may also have a hard time making an insurance claim related to your renovation or refinancing your mortgage. Furthermore, you may jeopardize the sale of your home in the future if buyers request to see a permit for the work you’ve done or put in a lower offer because your home contains unapproved changes.
When do you need a permit?
Permit requirements vary by municipality, so you should always check with your municipal permit office. However, you typically need a permit whenever you are making changes to the structure or systems (e.g., electrical or plumbing) in your home. For example, you’ll probably need a permit if you are removing a wall, creating a new window or enlarging an existing one, adding a sunroom, or altering your plumbing.
Typically, you don’t need a permit if you are painting walls, installing new cabinets or floors, or replacing doors without changing their size.
Who is responsible for getting your permits?
If you’re working with a contractor, your contract may specify that he or she will take on the job of applying for the permits you need. However, because you’re the homeowner, it’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure you get the right permits before you begin any work. This is why it’s important to work with a reputable contractor who is aware of current municipal regulations and knows which particular permits your renovation needs.
Looking for a general contractor you can trust to ensure your renovation goes smoothly and complies with local regulations? That’s what we do.
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