What Home Renovations Require a Permit?

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Knowing what home renovations require a permit can save you a lot of hassle and money. Acquiring the proper permits or researching if you need one should be done before carrying out any renovations. But, does this mean any slight renovation you make in your home? Or, only major renovations?

The reality is that many renovations do require permits. DIY projects should be on hold until you know if your planned home improvement will need to be checked.

Permits ensure the renovation project meets all necessary health and safety checks, and fire safety laws, and adheres to local zoning and heritage laws.

Home Renovations You Need a Permit For

Building permits are required in most cases of home renovations that affect the structure or systems of your property. Standard home improvements that you will require a permit for include:

  • Fireplace – Adding a new fireplace requires a lot of work that can affect the layout and structure of your home.
  • Moving or replacing interior/exterior walls – Most municipalities will require a permit before knocking down or building any walls in your home.
  • Plumbing or electrical work – Making changes to plumbing or electrical work in your home will require a permit. Particularly, if you are rewiring or changing the layout of the current system.
  • Windows and doors – Adding or removing any windows and doors will require you to obtain a permit from the local municipality.

Renovations That Don’t Require a Permit

Not all renovations require a permit. Cosmetic changes like painting, building cabinets, changing small fixtures including lights, or changing doors won’t require a permit. Only changes to the structure of the house or the system in place will require you to obtain a permit.

If you are unsure whether you will need permission or not for any type of project, it’s always best to consult with the local authority that deals with permits.

Consequences of Renovating Your Home Without a Permit

Renovating without permission and a permit from the local relevant authorities can have costly consequences. If moving to a new house or renovating your current house, permits will likely be required. Forgetting to get your permit before you start to renovate won’t be a good excuse if the authorities are notified about your renovations.

1. Fines

Fines are a standard punishment for not acquiring a permit for your renovation. If the work is currently ongoing, you could be fined each day work carries on until the project is completed or you get the appropriate permit. Contractors who are working on your project may be subject to a fine, as well as you the homeowner.

2. Demolition

Large-scale projects that are built without permission may be forced to demolish the improvements made. If the local municipality is feeling particularly harsh, they can enforce demolition of the project and a substantial fine. Homes with historical value are of particularly stringent improvement rules.

3. Selling Issues

When it comes time to sell your home you must disclose any renovation projects to the prospective buyer. Unsanctioned work carried out on your home may put potential buyers off as you could not disclose other issues. Not to mention, they might be afraid of receiving a fine due to the renovations.

4. No Cover for Damage

Any work carried out that results in damage to your home could be void of any insurance coverage. Without the necessary permit, your insurance provider has the right to refuse your claim as the damage occurred during unlawful improvements to your home.

How to Get a Building Permit in Toronto

Getting a building permit in Toronto can be done by following the below steps.

  1. Submit your building permit application at the district office of the property.
  2. Pay the fee.
  3. Wait for the Toronto building staff to review your application.
  4. During this process, they will check if your building plans adhere to the Ontario Building Code and local zoning laws.
  5. Wait for the decision to be made. You can monitor the progress of your application online.

Permits can be obtained through your contractor. Reputable contractors should be able to advise you on what permits will be required for your project. Make sure to draw up a letter authorizing the contractor to apply for permits on your behalf.

The local building inspector will check to make sure you are complying with what your permit allows. Your permit is only for the specified renovation that you applied for, so you can’t make other renovations that weren’t included. Apply for another permit for that specific renovation if that’s the case.

Things to note:

Building permits are valid whilst construction on your property is ongoing. If you haven’t started working on the renovation or work has stalled, the permit is still valid for 6 months.

Large projects may require some time before you are awarded a permit. Smaller projects tend to be dealt with much quicker. Permits can be extended by the local building inspector.

Building permits are not the only permit you may need. Depending on your project, you may also need a heating permit, demolition permit, sign variance permit, ventilation and air conditioning, or other permits.

Renovations That Require a Permit in Toronto

Making sure you have a permit in Toronto for the following renovations is imperative.

  • Building attached or detached garages.
  • Constructing or adding an accessory building over 10 square meters.
  • Constructing a fireplace.
  • Constructing a chimney.
  • Creating new window spaces, door spaces, or other access points on the building.
  • Demolishing or replacing parts of the building including walls.
  • Building new separate dwellings.
  • Altering plumbing, electrical, heating, or air ventilation.
  • Repairing, altering, or underpinning any foundation work within the property.
  • Changing the structure of the property.
  • Finishing renovations that were started by the previous owner.

Renovations in Toronto That Don’t Require a Permit

Check out some of the renovations in Toronto that don’t require a permit below:

  • Replacing windows or doors without making any adjustments to the openings.
  • Building fences around your property.
  • Painting or plastering.
  • Adding shelving or cabinets to your property.

What Home Renovations Require a Permit

What Home Renovations Require a Permit? – Conclusion

Knowing what home renovations require a permit is highly recommended. Hiring a local contractor with a steller reputation who can advise or apply for the permits on your behalf will save you a lot of hassle.

Contacting your local authority and requiring if you will need a permit is also a good plan to follow. The penalty for not getting a permit far outweighs the hassle and small fee you need to pay initially. Make sure you do all your research before starting any new project.


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