Thinking of Renovating? Don’t Forget The Building Permit

home-improvementIf you walk down almost any Toronto street you’re bound to pass by a demolished residential lot, or see a sky-high crane somewhere in the distance. Torontonians are house proud and in a market where the cost of an average home is just over $500,000 and bidding wars are not uncommon, renovation is often the answer. Some renovate with hopes to sell and move up the real estate ladder, others renovate to gain more space rather to avoid having to move.

Advance planning is the key to successful renovations. Whether it’s increasing space with an addition, replacing older parts of a home for greater efficiency, or knocking down and starting from the foundation, there are obviously some plans that must first be approved by the City before work can begin. There is often confusion as to what requirers a building permit in Toronto when remodelling or construction, so to help dispel some of that confusion here is a list of what does and what doesn’t require a building permit, according to the City of Toronto.

You will require a Building Permit if you are planning to: 

  • Stairs RenovationConstruct a new building
  • Construct an addition to an existing building
  • Make structural alterations
  • Renovate, repair or add to a building
  • Demolish or remove all or a portion of a building
  • Change a building’s use
  • Install, change, or remove partitions and/or load bearing walls
  • Make new openings for, or change the size of doors and windows
  • Build a garage, balcony or deck
  • Excavate a basement or construct a foundation
  • Install or modify heating, plumbing or air-conditioning systems
  • Install or reconstruct chimneys or fireplaces
  • Construct an accessory structure larger than 10 square metres (108 square feet) in area
  • Install a wood burning stove/fireplace
  • Construct a basement entrance
  • Add a second suite

You will not require a Building Permit for the following:

  • Kitchen RenovationAn uncovered platform attached to a Part 9 residential building provided:
    • its finished deck level is not greater than 0.6m above the adjacent finished grade; and
    • it does not form part of an exit required under the Building Code
  • Installing a skylight in an existing building provided:
    • the building falls within Part 9 of the Building Code; and
    • the installation does not require the removal of more than one rafter, joist, or other similar structural member (with the exception of a truss)
  • Re-cladding of a Part 9 building with non-combustible material other than brick or stone veneer
  • Adding or replacing insulation
  • The replacement of windows or doors provided:
    • there is no increase in the percentage of unprotected openings;
    • the structural support for the opening (i.e. lintel) is not affected; and
    • an exit is not created
  • Furnace and boiler replacements in Part 9 residential buildings
  • The installation of additional cooling systems, gas fireplaces, air cleaners, in-line humidifiers, or hot water tanks in Part 9 residential buildings
  • Repairing and replacing plumbing fixtures other than toilets
  • Replacing existing roofing material provided no structural work is required
  • Finishing a basement of a residential Part 9 building provided:
    • the work does not include structural alterations
    • no additional dwelling unit(s) is (are) created; and
    • the work does not include the installation of new plumbing
  • Installation of cabinetry and millwork

RemodelingWhen hiring a contractor, you should discuss the Building Permit process and who will be responsible for the application. In many cases, a builder or contractor will obtain the necessary permits for you, but it’s important to remember that you are ultimately responsible as the homeowner. Check with the City of Toronto Building for more information.


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