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What is a Building Permit?

A building permit is a document issued by the body responsible for enforcing Ontario’s Building Code in your area. This is usually through Municipal building departments but can also be done through some boards of health or conservation authorities when on-site sewage systems are involved.

When is a Building permit needed?

Not all home construction or renovation will require a permit, many minor projects can be carried out by a homeowner or a contractor without one.  But a building permit is required when you wish to:
construct, renovate, demolish or change the use of a building
excavate or construct a foundation
make renovations or repairs or add to a building
Change the use of a building
Construct new or additional buildings on your property that are more than 10sq m

Permits are designed to ensure that specific building codes are met which set out standards for health, safety, fire protection, accessibility, and resource conservation.  These are for the benefit of both the current home/land owner, as well as future owners.

What do I need in order to get a permit?

Requirements for permit can vary from municipality to municipality, so it is best practice to reach out to your local office prior to any project.  Let them know your intentions for your project, and they will advise you whether or not one is needed, as well as provide you the application and requirements, if any.  If you are hiring a contractor, they will often obtain the permit on your behalf, and include the price for doing so in their estimate.  But best practice is to ask!!  Ensure that they are doing so – never assume!

One thing is for sure - if you are planning to build a new structure that is greater that 10sq m, you will need one.

What happens if I’ve done work without a permit?

It is common for many homeowners to have completed work without having permits in place. However, if any issues arise from work done that should have had a permit – it could be costly!

- If a home inspection is done on your home in the future when you are selling, and defaults are found, you may be required to demo the work that was done, obtain a permit, and redo the work. 
- If a flood or fire were to happen in your home and the cause was from work that was done without a permit, your insurance may deny a claim for the damages/repair. 
- If you are found to have built without a permit, you may be fined by the municipality, and/or ordered to tear down your structure.

It will save you time, and money in the long run to first run any anticipated plans through the building department to verify whether you require a permit or not.


For more detailed information on requirements and processes, click here:
https://www.ontario.ca/document/citizens-guide-land-use-planning/building-permits

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