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When Is a Permit Required for Home Renovation?

When Is a Permit Required for Home Renovation?
By Flow Wall
January 5, 2017

You have planned, designed, and obtained financing for your home renovation project. You are now ready to get started, right? Wrong. If you aren't holding a proper renovation permit in your hand then you are in violation of the law. The consequences include the possibilities of having to shut down mid-project, being required to undo your work, and getting issued a fine. Save yourself all the trouble and make the effort to find out first if your project requires permitting. Then go through due process to be sure you are following safety regulations and obeying the law.

The Proof Is in the Permit

The number one reason for building permits is to ensure public health and safety. When construction, electricity, and plumbing are completed improperly, the outcomes may be disastrous. The other reasons for permits are to achieve a uniformity of construction quality and for ease in obtaining an accurate property valuation. If you complete a renovation without a permit, you likely won't be able to sell your home in the future until you obtain a retroactive permit which may eat up a lot of time and money at an inconvenient time.

Specific Permits for Specific Projects

Each municipality has different requirements for permits depending on the size, cost, and time required for your renovation project. New Construction: This includes guest houses, garages, sheds, gazebos, retaining walls, and fences. Additions: This includes adding or extending bedrooms, sunrooms, balconies, patios, porches, decks, and enclosing a garage. Structural Changes: This includes finishing an attic or basement, putting up or taking down walls, installing windows, skylights, and doors, and altering load-bearing portions of the structure. Major Renovations: This includes restoration of an older home, remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, and replacing a roof. Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical Work: This includes installing or moving lighting, adding a shower or hot tub, replacing a water heater, updating garage doors, adding or moving a fireplace, and installing a home automation system. Green Building: This includes solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, green roofs, wind turbines, and geothermal systems. Check with your local Building Services Department to find out if your specific project requires a permit and if so, which type of permit you need.

The Permitting Process

The permitting process isn't difficult but it does take time and money so be sure to plan ahead. The costs of a building permit will range anywhere from $100 up to $3,200 depending on the size and scope of your renovation. Here are the steps to take in obtaining your permit:

  1. Complete a permit application from your local Building Services Department.
  2. Prepare a site plan for your project.
  3. Receive a plan approval via an "over-the-counter" review or schedule an appointment.
  4. Obtain the permit and begin work.
  5. Schedule and complete any required inspections.
  6. Complete your project and obtain final city approval.

Another option is to hire a permit service company who will manage the building permit application process on your behalf, possibly saving you time and money. When it comes to home renovation, “better safe than sorry” is a good attitude to have in mind. Your home is your haven and it's always best to keep the safety and well-being of your family at the forefront of everything you do.