When are permits required, and when are they not? This is a common question asked by many homeowners prior to the start of their renovation project. Your contractor should be able to answer this question for you. If you do not have a contractor, you should be able to find this information on the relevant section of your local city or town website.
Generally speaking, if the type of work that you are doing is cosmetic in nature and does not involve major infrastructure changes, you do not need a building permit. As an example, if you are a homeowner in the City of Pickering, ON, and you are interested in having the interior of your home repainted, or new tile flooring installed, you would not require a building permit to undertake the work. You also do not need a building permit for the installation of interior wall, floor, or ceiling finishes, general repairs, replacement of plumbing fixtures, replacement of a heating system, or installation of most satellite dishes.
Where you would need a permit is in major infrastructure work, such as home additions, large storage shed construction (larger than 10m squared), decks, garages, structural alterations (such as removal of a load bearing wall), new basement entrances, or the alteration of plumbing piping (such as moving the location of a toilet). In the instances where a permit is required, accompanying inspections by the town or city building inspector are required to approve the work that has been completed properly. For instance, in the case of a basement bathroom plumbing rough in for the City of Pickering, a building inspection would be required to ensure that the work was completed properly and in compliance with the Ontario building code. This is similar for other cities in the Durham Region including Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa.
If you are unsure of whether or not your particular renovation will require permitting or inspections, please do contact your local city as it is important to ensure that work is done properly. This will save you money down the line by not having to redo improper work or fix damages as a result of poor workmanship. Furthermore, bigger projects like the removal of load bearing walls will require the proper oversight to ensure that no safety issues arise as a result of the work being completed. You would not want to remove a load bearing wall in your home without the approval of a structural engineer - if you removed a load bearing wall and then had structural problems afterwards, and you did not follow the correct procedure, your home insurance company may not cover related damages. It is always in your best interest as a homeowner to have the job done properly.
List of Building Permit Websites for major Durham Region cities & Toronto:
City of Pickering
City of Ajax
City of Whitby
City of Oshawa
City of Toronto