Like most homeowners, you may not be familiar with building permits or the reason why you need a permit for your home renovation. The following information may be useful.

Why you need a building permit

A permit is the item that ensures that your home renovation or repair process complies with the basic health, safety and structural rules as given by your area building codes. In addition to this, the permit ensures that your plans comply with other municipal standards like zoning rules and heritage building designations.

When you need a permit

Usually, a building permit is necessary when your home renovating process entails structural changes or alteration of specified systems. This may entail demolition of walls to create space to install new windows, door openings or fireplaces. Electrical and plumbing licenses should be obtained as separate items.

There are some repair jobs that do not need a permit to be obtained. These sorts of renovation tasks may include installing new siding, painting, roofing, flooring and installation of cabinets. It may also entail replacement of doors and windows as long as the opening isn’t enlarged, and smaller, quick projects that do not involve changes to systems or structures. If you are not sure whether you need a permit, or which type you need, visit your municipal office and ask. If you need to demolish old structures in your yard, such as a garden shed, garage or tall trees, ask which type of permit is needed.

What to do

The steps you will take will be determined by your municipal office based on the sort of home renovation you intend to do. If you want to do a large project involving not only structural renovations but also the addition of new items, you may need a plan with a full set of working drawings. A site survey may be needed as well. A small renovation can do with a scale floor plan. In case your plan needs an amendment of zoning-law nature, you may be forced to present more information to the municipal office.

Does the renovator or you obtain the permit?

A professional renovator does not have to obtain a permit for you. However, you can ask them to oversee it for you. Also, the contract they will give you should mention the kind of permits you need to obtain and state the person who is responsible for getting them. If you have no time to obtain the permit personally, you can ask your renovator to get it but you must write a letter authorizing it.

A permit is not offered automatically. Your drawings and plans are assessed first by the municipal workers. If your project is simple, chances are that you will obtain a permit in one day only. Larger project permits are offered after a few weeks. After the task starts, a home inspection expert can visit your house to ensure that renovations are done according to municipal requirements. Electrical and plumbing jobs may require a separate inspection.

When you decide to work without a permit

This is very risky, as the work may be stopped until you get the required permits. If the kind of renovations you have done are contrary to the building codes followed in your area, you may be asked to demolish and redo work at an extra cost. Furthermore, renovating without a permit could easily affect an insurance claim that may arise from the repair job. Therefore, you should consult with an insurance advisor prior to starting your project for advice on coverage during and after renovations.

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Author
Tom Cordeiro

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