Now that summer is finally here, a lot of people will looking to do renovations. While most people recognize that they will need building permits for large projects, like an addition, many do not realize that permits are required for smaller, more common renovations. There is some variance among municipalities in terms of what requires a permit and what does not. In Ottawa, for example, the following are renovations that may require a permit:
- Building or altering a structure with an area of more than ten square meters
- Installing new windows where there were no windows before
- Altering the plumbing system
- Repairing the structural foundation
- Adding a self-contained basement apartment
- Installing a deck (depending on the height and area)
- Widening or creating a new driveway
- Finishing a basement
- Fencing for a pool or hot tub
Whether a permit is required is important to understand because if someone does renovations without one and the municipality finds out, a work order can be issued requiring the property owner to rectify whatever deficiency exists (which could be costly). As a result, prior to starting any renovation, you should consult with your municipality to confirm whether a permit is required and, if so, what the process is to obtain one.
Generally, the process begins with submitting an application form, along with certain supporting documents (i.e. plans) and a fee to the municipality. Assuming the municipality approves what you have submitted, you can begin your renovation and the municipality will arrange for inspections over the course of construction. Once the work is complete, the municipality will attend the property for a final inspection and issue a certificate if the work has been completed in compliance with the permit issued and the relevant legislation (such as by-laws and the Ontario Building Code).
So, next time you are ready to start a project and think it is only a minor renovation, remember that a permit could be required, even for something as simple as installing a hot tub.