Even though it’s still blustery cold outside, many of us are thinking about summer projects we can’t wait to get started on. Some of these projects may include an addition, a pool, a deck or even finishing a basement. Some projects like building a new home or addition would obviously require permitting from the township or building department; however, some projects you may not be aware of (depending on your location) may require a building permit. I will be honest, when I read some of these I was quite surprised and immediately thought “money grab” but after some thought, it may make sense.
I would suggest you check with your town or township before you start any project. Many people have done renovations or projects and have not got the proper building permits to complete the job and never got caught. The cost of the permit may not be near as much as getting caught, getting a stop work order then having the hold up of going through the process of getting the building permit and the possibility of getting a fine! I know many people think it may be easier to seek forgiveness than to ask permission, but that could really cost in the long run.
The purpose of a building permit is to protect both the homeowner as well as the community. The work being done has to comply with current building code and thus is a safety issue. The building department also ensures it complies with neighbourhood bylaws. A fence for example does not require a building permit in either Shelburne or Orangeville, but does have to comply with Town’s bylaws with regards to height. I was not aware that a building permit was required for a hot tub installation in Orangeville. The building department will need to know what the hot tub will be sitting on as well as a hydro permit. We would not want to see a hot tub installed on a deck that is not built for the weight of the tub and its occupants or worse to have the electrical not appropriate for a hot tub and cause electrocution!
So what things do you think you need a building permit for?
Demolition of a structure
Any addition to structure regardless of size
A new entrance or opening
Enclosing a porch/roof over a sundeck
Converting a septic system to town sewers
Installing a fireplace or woodstove
Any structural changes interior including interior partitions
Accessory buildings including sheds, pool cabanas etc. if over 100sq.ft.
Decks usually if higher than 24”
Retaining walls if higher than 3’3”
Installing pools or hot tubs
Any installation or alteration to a plumbing system (so adding a basement bathroom)
From a real estate point of view, not obtaining permits can cost you as well. When selling a home with renovations done, buyers will ask if a permit was obtained. If not, they may question the quality or safety of the work done. They may also be fearful that they may have repercussions if the town finds out at a later time. If a buyer starts to question the town with regards to building permits obtained for a renovation, there is the possibility of opening Pandora’s Box for the seller. Nothing would be worse than a potential buyer inquiring with the town with regards to the addition put on a home to find out no permits were obtained, the town coming in after the fact and demanding it be removed and the home now not selling. If you are selling a home that you are quite aware building permits were not obtained, make sure to disclose in writing to the buyer. You would not want this in the agreement of purchase and sale as it may cause difficulties for the buyers financing but do make sure you have some type of written disclosure.
I know personally, it is just easier to follow the rules than have it come back to bite you. Why is it always the lessons we learn seem to be learned the hard way? If ever you have any questions with regards to building permits, we would be happy to help you get the information.