Understanding the Building Permit Requirements When Renovating Your Home in Ontario
Home renovations can be an exciting way to breathe new life into your living space, increase the value of your property, and address any structural or functional issues. But before you start knocking down walls or installing new fixtures, make sure you follow all building codes and obtain all necessary permits. Building permit rules in Ontario can be complicated, so here’s what you need to know.
What is a Building Permit?
A building permit is a legal document that grants you permission to construct, alter, or demolish a building or structure under the Ontario Building Code. (OBC). The OBC establishes building design, construction, and maintenance standards to ensure that buildings are safe, accessible, and energy-efficient. The building permit process entails submitting plans and specifications to the local building department, paying a fee, and obtaining approval before beginning work.
When Do You Need a Building Permit?
Most types of construction work in Ontario require a building permit, including:
- Building any new structure larger than ten square meters in area, such as a garage, shed, or workshop.
- Putting up another structure on your property, such as a mobile home or shipping container.
- Making structural changes, such as removing load-bearing walls, adding new rooms, or changing the height or shape of the building.
- Changing the use of a building, such as converting a residential property into a commercial space or vice versa.
- Installing new plumbing, electrical, or HVAC systems, or making changes to existing ones.
- Installing new windows, doors, or skylights, or enlarging existing openings.
- Building a deck that is more than 600 mm above ground level or is attached to the house.
It is important to note that the above list is not exhaustive, and there may be additional requirements based on the specific location, zoning, or environmental factors. As a result, before beginning any construction work, you should consult with your local building department.
What Happens If You Don’t Get a Building Permit?
Failure to obtain a building permit when required can have serious consequences. To begin, you may be fined or charged with an offense under the Ontario Building Code Act. Second, you may be required to remove or modify the work at your own expense to bring it up to code. Third, your insurance may be void if unpermitted work causes property damage or injury. Finally, if you sell your property, the lack of permits may affect the sale price or cause the closing to be delayed because the buyer’s lender or lawyer may require proof of compliance.
How Do I Obtain a Building Permit?
To obtain a building permit in Ontario, you must first:
1. Determine the scope of work and gather the necessary documents, such as plans, drawings, specifications, and surveys.
2. Submit the application and pay the required fee to your local building department. The fee is determined by the type and value of the construction work and may include additional charges for inspections or reviews.
3. Wait for the building department to review your application and provide feedback or approvals. Depending on the complexity of the project and the department’s workload, the review process could take several weeks or months.
4. When you receive the permit, post it on the site and adhere to the conditions and timelines outlined in the permit. Inspections may be required at various stages of construction to ensure compliance with the OBC.
By following the guidelines and obtaining the necessary permits, you can avoid legal issues, financial penalties, and safety risks. Furthermore, the building permit process can provide you with valuable feedback and support from the building department, which can help you improve the quality and efficiency of your construction work. So, before you begin your next home renovation project in Ontario, do your homework and obtain the necessary permits.