Understanding the importance of building permits
Building permits are a formal permission for the construction, demolition or alteration of a home, and acquiring them can be a complicated process.
So, you’ve decided to renovate. A home renovation is a great way to increase the value, not to mention your enjoyment of your home.
Calculating your budget and finding a renovator are both important considerations when thinking about a home renovation. But another key component not to be overlooked is understanding whether you will need a building permit.
Building permits are granted by municipalities and are considered a formal permission for the construction, demolition or alteration of a home. Each municipality has its own set of regulations but most major renovations, such as those where structural walls or plumbing components are altered, require building permits.
Permits must be obtained before you begin renovating. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to $50,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for subsequent offences.
Getting a building permit is a complicated process. It can take several weeks or even months to obtain and if it seems overwhelming, the best thing to do is to contact a professional renovator who has experience with permit applications.
There are a number of online resources to find professional resources, such as the national RenoMark program. It can be accessed by visiting www.renomark.ca, which features a searchable database of professional renovators, trade contractors and custom builders.
A professional renovator will be able to assess your project and explain whether or not a permit is needed, and what it will take to obtain one. Keep in mind that some renovations require the help of a service professional such as an architect, structural engineer or electrician.
Many renovators have existing relationships with trade professionals. Your renovator is the project manager to bring in the right people, get the necessary drawings and submit the application to the municipality on your behalf. This is the most efficient way to obtain the permit. Just make sure that the cost is discussed up front and factored into the contract.
Speaking of cost, make sure you factor in the price of the building permit into your overall budget. It is calculated by the size of the renovation and varies by municipalities. For something like a garage renovation, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars while something like building a brand new home will cost upward of $1,500 or more.
Once your application is submitted, it can take as little as a few days and as long as several months to get your permit, depending on the size of your renovation. Simple interior alterations such as kitchens or bathrooms may be issued in a few days while renovations of about 1,000 square feet will likely take about 10 days.
Meanwhile, more complex renovations can take weeks or even months, pending a zoning and building code compliance review.
Talk to your renovator throughout the process. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open at all times. Your renovator is your partner in realizing your dream of a newly renovated home so it’s important to work with someone you can trust.