A home improvement boom is in full swing in Canada and homeowners are investing more money in renovations than ever before. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself task or a major professional project, more of today’s homeowners are investing time and money to make their residences more functional and more comfortable. One of the requirements of your home improvement project may be acquiring a building permit. Although considered by many to be an added inconvenience and expense, building permits are actually important safeguards that help ensure you get sound workmanship and good value for your money.
You should check with the local authorities in your township or municipality prior to beginning work to see if a permit is required. Applying for a building permit ensures that your project conforms to local building codes and other regulations. Your project will be inspected by a qualified building inspector to confirm that the project follows the plans submitted for the permit. The inspector also ensures that appropriate materials and construction methods have been used for the safe usage of your project. For example, if the beams on your raised deck won’t support the maximum weight or the wiring is inadequate to safely run the lighting system you’d planned, the inspector will point this out and then return to verify that the appropriate remedies have been made before approving your project.
These measures are all to your benefit. After all, who wants to find out after you’ve already built a new deck that’s it’s too close to your neighbour’s property? In such a case, they could require you to remove the offending structure at your own expense. As for ensuring that your project used the correct construction materials and conforms to safety standards, the benefits are obvious.
Even if you’re working with a professional contractor, it’s to your benefit to ensure that a permit is obtained, so your contractor’s work will be scrutinized by a ‘pro’. Building permits are always required if you’re making any structural changes to your home, are building an addition onto an existing structure or adding a new improvement to your property. While regulations vary within municipalities, other types of projects may also require permits, particularly if electrical work is required. Some less than professional contractors may encourage you to initiate work without bothering with a permit. Be warned! This will simply allow your contractor to do substandard work without any unbiased party there to ensure that the job has been done to code. If the contractor implies the job will be cheaper without the permit, you should ask yourself why that is so.
Don’t proceed under the misguided assumption that if you do the work yourself, a building permit isn’t necessary. Not so! You’re responsible for ensuring that any home improvements conform to local regulations. That means you’re also liable for any costs that may be incurred to correct a problem, either during or after construction. If you’re in doubt, contact your local authorities before you start.