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Do I need a Building Permit for my Home Renovation?

You dream of removing a wall in your kitchen to redesign a beautiful room with space for cooking and entertaining, but do you need a building permit? Your living room gets dark in the afternoon so you’re considering hiring a contractor to add another window, but do you need a permit. If so, who’s responsible for getting one? What about building a deck in your backyard? Often, a building permit is required when a renovation changes the structure of a home. Here’s what you need to know about permits before you get started on your own renovation.

Why do I need a permit?

A building permit ensures your renovation project and contractor comply with the provincial building codes and municipal bylaws. Projects that require a permit often vary by province and city. Visit and search for 'Building permit process - Frequently asked questions.' Examples include adding or removing walls, adding a storey or addition to your home, even creating new windows or enlarging existing ones.

Types of permits

In addition to a building permit, you may also require one or more of the following permits:

  • Electrical permit - Wiring a new home, or changing the wiring in an existing home.

  • Plumbing permit - Plumbing installation in a new home, or changing/repairing an existing home’s plumbing system.

  • Gas permit - New heating systems that use propane or natural gas, or for alterations to such systems.

Getting a building permit

You can often get a building permit from your local municipality’s permit office. Costs and turnaround time will vary. Unsure if your project requires a permit? Contact your local building permit office with a description of the project; the office will likely ask for project drawings to determine if you need a permit.

Im hiring a contractor. Who is responsible for getting the permit?

As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to make sure you have the appropriate permit. This means before the project starts. A professional contractor may be able to get the required permits and arrange the corresponding inspections on your behalf. Make sure you discuss this with your qualified renovation contractor. Even consider adding that responsibility to the contract!

Since 1943, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association has been the voice of Canada’s residential construction industry. Reprinted with permission by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association. For more information, visit  

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