Did you know that building permits help ensure renovations and construction projects comply with local bylaws, health and safety standards as well as building codes? Well, if you didn’t, now you do!

So, why do they matter?  Keep reading to find out.

What Is A Building Permit?

As you prepare to start a project, considering a building permit is a great first step. After all, you’re required to obtain the relevant permits before you can even start tackling any renovations.

As the expectations and rules for every municipality differ, it’s crucial you understand your cities requirements – it would be a waste of time adhering to standards that don’t even apply to your given area! And, some cities are actually more vigilant than others in enforcing permits, so the work required can differ from place to place. To determine what your city needs from you, you can always visit your town's building department website, as they typically offer an overview. 

The Building Permit Process

In order to obtain a building permit, the process might look a little something like this:

You can start by contacting your local building department and explaining what you have in mind for your project. If they determine that a permit is required, you’ll be given an application form outlining the relevant requirements. Keep in mind that not all renovations require one single permit, you might have to apply for multiple. For example, perhaps your project requires quite a bit of work, leaving you to apply for a plumbing and electrical permit. 

As you prepare your permit application, make sure to include any materials that will be used and keep in mind that you may have to submit drawings of your project plan, depending on the proposal. 

You can then submit your application, which is often when you pay whatever necessary fees. Afterwards, the licensing office will provide you with an official permit certificate.

 Once you begin working on your project, you’re required to post the building permit, which could mean taping it to the door closest to where work is being done.

As you continue to work and see progress, make sure to call the inspection office, so they can send an inspector to review the quality of work as well as the worksite. If the inspector instructs you to make any changes, complete them and have the instructor return to make sure they were done accordingly.  

When you receive approval from the inspector, you’re no longer required to display your building permit. 

Oftentimes people skip these steps because they don’t want to spend the time or money on them, but the price of righting your wrongs is often far more costly.

Why Do Building Permits Matter

If you decide to bypass the official building permit process, you might run into the following problems:

  • You might decide down the road it’s time to sell your home. A buyer’s inspection might reveal work that was done without proper permits or that isn’t up to code. You’ll then be faced with the task of undoing all your previous work and starting over again, this time with a permit. 

  • You might face steep fines, which can reach thousands of dollars, depending on where you live and the work that was done. For structures that violate requirements, you could actually receive fines for every day that the structure fails to meet standards.

  • If work that was done poorly or without a permit leads to a structural issue, a fire, or even a major plumbing problem, your homeowner’s damage and liability policy might not cover the costs of the damage.

  • If an injury occurs during your project and you’re without the proper permits, you could be liable for the injuries. 

  • Perhaps during your DIY construction, you accidentally damage your neighbours property or pollute a nearby stream. This could lead to a serious lawsuit. 

It’s important that you do the relevant research before starting a project to stay informed of any required permits. In doing so, you can rest assured that your project is being done in the safest way possible. You’ll also save yourself the headache, time and money that comes with fixing any mistakes.

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