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buildingpermitMany people aren’t aware of the fact that the Ontario Building Code does require permits for changes made to residential homes.  These permits are essentially there to ensure the house is safe.

When a permit has been issued for a job, there are specific inspections done for each stage of the work prior to closing the permit.  The permits and these inspections basically go hand-in-hand. General contractors should know when a permit is required and guide their clients accordingly.  Most projects are easy – if you are putting on an addition, you need a permit!

Below is a quick reference to some of the more common permits in York Region.  Each municipality may have their own permit requirements, so it would be best to check with the building department in your area for further clarification.

Housing/Building – includes interior structural changes, additions and new builds.  The number of inspections would depend on the nature of the permit.  Some inspections to expect are:

  • Pre back fill of any foundation wall: performed to ensure the walls have been parged, tarred, and prepared for no water penetration; and the drainage layer and weeping tiles are in place.
  • Framing: after the heating, plumbing and electrical rough-ins are complete (and have passed inspection), the completed framework is checked to ensure the house has been framed properly. At this time, the inspector would look at the mechanical, plumbing, and heating rough-in.
  • Insulation and vapour barrier: performed to ensure the house is insulated properly, the vapour barrier is sealed, and that there are fire separations.
  • Occupancy or completion: the home is inspected to ensure the house is safe and livable.  Some of the items the inspectors look for are the installation of railings, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, ventilation fans, and complete plumbing fixtures (only one complete functioning washroom is required to gain a completion). The exterior of the home is inspected to ensure that the caulking is complete, eaves trough and down spouts are installed, guards and railings are up, and there is a proper means to get into the house whether it is temporary on final.

Demolition – mostly for large tear downs, but may also be required for smaller jobs as well.

Plumbing – any changes made to plumbing drain lines (for example: moving a toilet or sink).  There would be two inspections for this permit – rough-in, and final.  Rough-in checks the lines behind the walls. Final inspection ensures the plumbing is complete.

Heating – changes to room size, windows sizes, exterior door size may require a permit.

Electrical – both permits and inspections for changes or additions to existing electrical wiring or devices are obtained from the Electrical Safety Authority by a licensed electrician.

The building inspectors are basically the building industry version of police, without the fines.  If you don’t acquire a permit when one is required, you could face a Stop Work Order, which means no further work is permitted without architectural drawings or an engineer’s report – delaying your job by 2-8 weeks.  At which point you would then have to submit the drawings or report for the permit and have a further delay of 2-6 weeks depending on your municipality. Which means you could be waiting for up to 3months to get started again. This is a long time, and if it is an interior renovation while you are living in the house could be very painful.

The Ontario Building Code is really the bare minimum for a safe home! Have you run into issues with permits when having work done on your home? Share your experiences with us in the comments!