Renovating – The Importance of Building Permits

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Homeowner renovation planning usually starts with setting goals – more space, a better layout, energy savings or improved access. When homeowners dream about renovating, they dream about turning existing rooms into beautiful, magazine-worthy spaces. What they don’t dream about is building permits. However, the building permit process is an important part of ensuring that your renovated space is built to code and safe to use after project completion.

Paul Napolitano, owner of Royal Home Improvements, a GTA based residential renovation general contractor sheds some light on the process of obtaining permits for your next home renovation.

“It is important for homeowners to familiarize themselves with the permit process early on. The process requirements are specific and, depending on the scope, can be complicated, so many homeowners choose to have an experienced renovation contractor take care of them,” says Napolitano.

Who Needs a Building Permit?

The first thing homeowners should know about permits is that they are required for more than just new construction and major home renovations. Renovation projects that may require a building permit include structural wall removal, building a garden shed, finishing a basement, building a deck and installing a wheelchair ramp at the front entrance (depending on the municipality).

The Permit Process

The onus is on the homeowner to obtain the permit. However, when working on renovation projects, there are considerable benefits from having a professional obtain the permits for you.

One benefit is timing. The process of obtaining a building permit includes several steps and can take anywhere from weeks to months, depending upon the complexity of the project. It includes hiring and coordinating architects, as well as multiple types of engineers such as structural, mechanical, electrical and HVAC. All required documents must be presented to the municipality in a specified format and there is the potential for a presentation of your case to a committee to gain final approval.

“The time to obtain a permit can be expedited by having your contractor manage the permit process. Renovation general contractors like Royal Home Improvements have experience and qualified partners they work with regularly to prepare the drawings and reports, prepare and submit permit applications and represent the homeowner at permit application hearings.” Napolitano tells us. “Delays are more common when homeowners obtain their own permits.”

Having an experienced contractor apply for the building permits also provides the benefit of having a knowledgeable representative answering the technical questions raised by the building department.

When the permit is granted it is the homeowners’ responsibility to ensure it is physically on site before construction begins. “Royal Home Improvements project managers ensure this occurs.  Fees, fines and delays to construction are all likely if work proceeds without a building permit.” Napolitano says.

It is important to plan for a successful renovation and deciding how to gain the permit is an important aspect of that planning. The homeowner has to make this important decision.

Royal Home Improvements has been renovating homes in the GTA for over 40 years. Call Royal Home Improvements at 416-236-4400 to speak with a Project Advisor about your upcoming renovation, remodel or addition. Visit their website for more information: