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As a real estate investor, renovations and improvements are a natural part of life. After all, if you want to get the most value out of your investments, you typically will need to put in the proper work. However, things are not usually as simple as just calling a contractor and getting to work. Instead, you will frequently need to seek permission for your projects.
That permission comes in the form of building permits.
However, while for some forms of renovations, building permits are essential, they are not always required for every project. So the question is, when do you need a building permit? Let’s take a look.
However, before we dive in, if you want to learn how to finance your property improvements so that you can get started as soon as the permit is approved, click the link below for a free strategy call today.
What is a Building Permit?
Before you can fully understand when you will need to secure building permits while working on a property, it is important that you understand what a building permit is and the role they play in protecting you, your properties and everyone who sets foot inside of them.
Essentially, a building permit is a license that grants a property owner to complete certain types of renovations or construct certain things on their property. This license is required in order to ensure that all work done on the property is performed properly and meets the criteria of all local guidelines. This includes local zoning laws, fire and structural safety standards and other local building codes.
When Are Permits Required?
Most of the time, when you are planning to have work done on the property, regardless of whether it is renovations, construction, demolition, or the alteration of an existing portion of the property, you are going to need to apply for a permit. You also may need to apply for a change of use permit if you are intending to change the use of part or all of the property.
Here are some specific examples of projects that will require a building permit:
- Decks and porches
- New fireplace or completion of roughed-in fireplaces
- Attached or detached garages
- One- or two-story additions
- Furnace replacements
- Plumbing and/or drains
- Major duct work changes
- New or structural alterations to windows to doors
- Adding or removing most walls
- Basement or main floor walkouts
- Swimming pools
- Freestanding structure over 10 square meters (108 square feet) in area
- Sprinkler systems
- Solar panels
- Relining of the private sewer connection
Applying for a Building Permit
It is important to remember that when you are looking to complete renovations on a property, you will need to secure a permit before work begins on the property. So, it is important that you know how to property apply for a permit.
In the vast majority of cases, building permits are handled at the municipal level. This means that your permit application will need to be run through the local municipal services office. Most cities will have online application processes you can use in order to apply and pay for their building permits as well as schedule the necessary inspections they will need throughout the building process, otherwise you will need to find and complete a mail-in application or schedule an in-person appointment to complete the application.
The price of a building permit is typically determined by the number of square meters that the renovations will cover, and the type of work being completed. These costs will vary from city to city.
Additionally, the amount of time you will need to wait to get your application back will differ depending on factors such as the type of work being completed and the volume of applications that are currently being processed. While there is nothing you can do to speed up this process, you can ensure that the process goes by as quickly as possible by providing all of the requested documents and information straight away and by responding to requests for further information as quickly as possible.
Discover How To Develop Real Estate With This Step By Step Guide
What To Do If Your Permit is Denied
If your building permit is denied, do not get discouraged. Fortunately for you, when an application is returned after being denied, the reason for the denial is also provided and outlined for you so that you can restructure your plan and application in order to remedy the concerns.
Alternatively, if the problems cannot be resolved, you may also seek to appeal the decision by filing an appeal with the Building Code Commission for denials based on technical requirements or the Superior Court of Justice for concerns pertaining to other laws and regulations.
Improvements and Renovations That Do Not Require a Permit
While many projects and renovations require you to obtain a permit, there are some jobs that do not share this requirement. Some of these exempt improvements include:
- Fences (other than masonry, concrete, etc.)
- Air conditioning units or heat pumps added to existing systems
- Pool heaters
- Painting and decorating
- Asphalt roof shingling (non-structural)
- Eaves troughs
- Minor repairs to masonry
- Kitchen or bathroom cupboards without plumbing
- Freestanding satellite dishes
- A detached accessory structure, which measures less than 10 square meters (108 square feet) in area. (An accessory structure is any building or structure other than the house.)
- Solar panels – free standing
Ensure You Are Only Working With Licensed Contractors
Finally, when you are ready to start work on your property make sure that you are only hiring licensed contractors. If you are found to be working with an unlicensed contractor you can face many penalties including having liens placed on the property, being subjected to fines, and having your permit suspended or revoked.
Bonus: Purchase Plus Improvements
When you are buying a property that you know will need renovations before it is ready for use, talk to your mortgage agent about purchase plus improvements mortgage products. These allow you to potentially borrow additional funds on top of the loan amount for the property in order to pay for renovations you are planning to make.
For more information about purchase plus improvements and other methods to borrow the funds to renovate your investments, give us a call at LendCity. Our number is 519-960-0370 or you can visit us online at LendCity.ca and apply today. Alternatively, click the link below to book a free strategy call with our team at LendCity today.