Industry Expert: BILD

Industry Expert: First Things First

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Industry Expert: First Things First

by Bryan Tuckey

Simplify the building permit process by entrusting your renovation to a professional

Now that you’ve decided to renovate your home, the first step is to do your homework and determine what building permits you might need.

Most construction, renovations, alterations and demolitions require a building permit. For instance, in many municipalities you need a permit for constructing separate rooms in your basement, but you probably don’t need one if you are building a fence, unless it is one that will enclose a pool.

Too often people question the importance of permits and sometimes they are tempted to undertake projects without having required permits in place. However, that is very short-sighted. Permits help protect you, your home and your community by making sure your project is structurally sound and follows all regulations.

Unprofessional renovators may be willing to do work without obtaining permits. Forgoing required permits may seem like a way to speed up your renovation and save money upfront, but it could very likely result in renovation deficiencies and added costs down the road. You could be faced with substantial fines and then having to redo the work. Lack of required permits may affect your home’s insurance coverage and you could also run into problems when you sell your home.

Local municipalities issue permits and application processes, and the rules governing building permits, can vary depending on where you live. Getting a building permit can be a complicated process. It can take several weeks or even months to obtain, and it can be a bit overwhelming, so a good approach is to work with a professional renovator who is experienced with permit applications.

RenoMark professional renovators are very experienced with permits and they will guide you through the process. They will assess your project and explain whether or not a permit is needed and what it will take to get one and they will work on your behalf to acquire them.

A critical step in obtaining your permit is ensuring that your project complies with the Ontario Building Code, municipal zoning and other applicable laws. Working with a professional renovator is the most efficient way to obtain permits. Your renovator is the project manager for your renovation and he/she will bring in the right people such as architects or engineers to get any necessary drawing for the permit application process. Make sure that the costs for additional professional services are discussed upfront and included in your renovation contract.

After you’ve obtained your permit and started construction, your renovator will arrange for all inspections required under the permit.

BILD created the RenoMark program in 2001 to help homeowners distinguish professional renovators from underground contractors. A key feature of the program is the RenoMark Code of Conduct by which all members agree to abide. It mandates that they provide written contracts for all jobs, have at least $2 million in liability insurance and offer a minimum of two years warranty on all work. Find a RenoMark professional at

Bryan Tuckey is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association and a land-use planner who has worked for municipal, regional and provincial governments.

Follow him on Twitter @bildgta,, and


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