Building Permits and your Home
Inspection may identify NO Building Permit!
As a Home Buyer you can be responsible to comply with Building Code Violations
A Building Permit is issued to anyone who constructs or modifies a building by the Chief Building Official of your Municipality.
A ‘building’ means a structure consisting of a wall, roof, and floor or any of them or a structural system serving the function thereof. Therefore a permit is required for any construction as defined and which is covered under the scope of the Ontario Building Code. Renovations, alterations as defined above require a permit. Examples: additions to living areas, plumbing, adding a basement, changes to footings, putting in larger windows, adding a deck, siding etc.
How Do I Obtain a Building Permit?
A completed application signed by the owner or his agent authorized in writing and the required documents as per Schedule ‘B’ of the Building By-law must be submitted to the Chief Building Official. Please note that documents listed in Schedule ‘B’ may require to be designed by a designer qualified and / or registered with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing after July 1, 2005.
Work Exempt from obtaining a Building Permit.
The following items are exempt from requirements to obtain a Building Permit: Changing shingles, Window replacements, Replacing and changing plumbing fixtures (Were no piping is altered), Painting, Mill work and Flooring.
When you obtain a building permit your design is checked to ensure it complies with the Ontario Building Code, Electrical Code and Plumbing Code. Any engineered designs or products will require stamped design drawings by qualified persons.
The municipality will send inspectors to approve stages of work prior to allowing work to continue to next step. For example your electrical wiring and plumbing must be inspected and passed prior to encasing in drywall or concrete, depending on work being done. When work is completed the Final Inspection is completed and the Building Permit file is closed off.
Very often a Building Permit is taken out and a Final Inspection is never completed. This means the file on your home or project is not completed as far as the municipality is concerned. When purchasing a building where work has bend done it is always a good idea to visit your local building department to ensure there are no open permits on property. You can also learn some history on building such as complaints from neighbor’s concerning your property. One building I own had to have the upper roof drain moved to lower roof due to previous complaint from neighbor. All nice information to know.
The Barrie Home Inspection Service always makes a note of issues that may indicate that a renovation or deck was built without obtaining the proper permits. If you purchase a home that had work done without the proper permits, you inherit the problems that might arise from that unauthorized construction.
Some of the most common indicators of work being done without obtaining the proper permits are electrical, plumbing and structural deficiencies. When work is completed in a home a final inspection is performed prior to closing off the Building Permit. Obvious deficiencies are a red flag that this work was done without obtaining the proper building permit. Your municipality can issue a “Stop Work Order” on your renovation until you obtain a building permit. If you complete your renovation the municipality can force you to redo the work to ensure it meets the requirements of the Ontario Building Code. If you fail to meet “set back” requirements for example, you could be forced to remove the structure.
I recently inspected a home where the home owner installed a storage area in their garage. The home owner cut the bottom section out of the engineered roofing truss to give space for storage unit. The truss is an designed part of the house structure and modifications are not allowed unless a Building Permit is taken out and a Design Detail for the truss modification is supplied as part of plans for storage unit. So the new home purchaser is faced with buying a house knowing the roof trusses have been compromised and that the storage unit was built without obtaining a Building Permit. If the house is bought in this condition, sometime down the road the City could inspect the house and identify the garage storage unit as being defective. The Home Owner would be responsible to bring storage unit up to standard plus the incurred Building Permit and any inspection fees.
Hiring a “Qualified Home inspector” can protect you from buying a property which has had work done without obtaining a “Building Permit”. The Barrie Home inspector is Certified Building Code Official with the Ontario Building Officials Association and has inspected over 5,000 residential properties, whose expertise will allow you Peace of Mind on your next property purchase.
When purchasing a home with a Fireplace, Wood Stove or Pellet stove, most insurance companies will require an inspection by a WETT Certified Inspector. The Barrie Home Inspection Service provides Certified WETT Inspections to Barrie, Orillia and Alliston for $50.0o0 when included as part of Home Inspection package.