Most homeowners know that they need a building permit for a major home improvement project such as the construction of a house addition. But many homeowners don’t realize that a building permit is also required for interior renovations and alterations, such as adding walls (in the case of a finished basement project), or removing walls (as in the case of creating an open concept space), as well as many projects that involve plumbing, heating and electrical work.
A building permit is formal permission to build your project. It says that the plans you submitted meet zoning by-laws, the building code, and other regulations that may apply. During construction, the work is inspected to ensure it complies with the building code.
Many homeowners choose not to get a permit, for various reasons. A major reason is cost – it costs money to prepare drawings, apply for the permit, pay the permit fee, and pay the contractor to attend building inspections. Another reason is time delays – time spent designing and applying for the permit, and the job taking longer while you wait for the building inspector to show up to the house. And often they don’t get a building permit because they don’t know who to turn to, to get drawings completed and apply for the permit (Hint: Look for a design build contractor).
Here are 3 practical reasons to get a building permit:
1. Safety. How do you know that the work complies with the building code? You’ve picked a contractor that has been in the business for many years, so you figure he must know what he is doing. But does he? With a building permit, at least there is a second set of eyes looking at the work.
2. Prevent Delays and Extra Costs. If the municipality finds out you are building without a permit, they can issue a stop work order, until you get your permits in place. Besides the delay, the permit may be more costly to obtain after construction has started, and work may have to be removed and redone if it does not meet building code.
3. Eliminate unqualified contractors. Many contractors will run when they find out you are planning to get a building permit for your project. Why? Because they don’t have a grasp of the building code, and they know their work won’t pass inspection. Even if you’ve decided not to get a permit, tell the contractors that you will be getting a permit, and see how they react. If they are not comfortable with a building permit job, or try and convince you that a permit is not required, you know they are not a good fit for your project.
Here’s our suggestions:
1. When in doubt, check with your municipal building department if a permit is required for your home renovation and remodeling project.
2. Get a building permit.
3. If you choose not to get a permit, at least choose to deal with a contractor who regularly does work that involves building permits. Even better, a design build contractor – because they know how to design it and build it.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? Have questions? Send us an email and let up know.