Most homeowners know they need a residential renovation permit to make significant changes to their property. However, they commit frequent errors by assuming for smaller modifications, like completing basements or replacing plumbing or electrical systems; they don’t require a home renovation permit.

You need to know numerous home improvement tasks, even do-it-yourself ones, need a residential renovation permit, and starting the work without the correct authorization might have expensive repercussions.

If you or the previous owner have made improvements without obtaining the necessary residential renovation permit, your ideal home acquisition might become a nightmare.

For an inspection to evaluate if the work conforms to building rules, the municipality may demand you to remove walls, ceilings, cabinets, and other finishes or, in the worst-case scenario, completely dismantle the improvement.

Overall, the residential renovation permit system ensures that all house improvements comply with municipal zoning regulations and history and fundamental criteria for health and safety, including fire prevention. The safest and best home renovations are made only by complying with the rules.

home renovation planning

When Do You Need the Residential Renovation Permit, and When It’s Not Required?

The following lists are collections of larger Ontario municipalities that you need to consider when you organize home renovation. Please be aware that these are not definitive lists and might change anytime.

For the following improvements, you need a residential renovation permit in Ontario:

  • Repair, renovate, or add to a building
  • Constructing an accessory or new building structure greater than 10 square meters in area
  • Building structural alterations
  • Remove or demolish all or a part of the building
  • Changing the use of the part of a building or the whole building
  • Change, install or remove load-bearing walls and partitions
  • Change the size of, or make new openings for, windows and doors
  • Build a balcony, garage, or porch
  • Building an unheated or heated sunroom
  • Excavate the basement to increase headroom
  • Building a deck that is larger than 10 square
  • Meters or rises more than 0.61 meters above the adjacent grade
  • The building of a foundation
  • Strengthen a current foundation
  • Install a basement walkout entrance
  • Build a chimney for a solid-fuel-burning device
  • Create or install a Second Suite
  • Install or upgrade fireplaces, plumbing, air conditioning, or heating systems
  • Construct a chimney, wood-burning stove, or fireplace; install one; create repairs for structural or mechanical fire damage
  • Establish a private sewage system, replace it, or repair it
residential renovation designer

A permit may not be necessary for the following:

  • Construct a utility shed with a dimension of no more than 10 square meters, subject to any restrictions bylaws
  • Replacing existing, same-size windows and doors, depending on how far the property lines are
  • Depending on how far the building is from the property line, placing siding on small residential buildings
  • Re-cladding exterior walls in fireproof material, keeping them away from property lines and excluding brick or stone veneer
  • Subject to bylaw limits, construct a roofless deck not attached to a building less than two feet (0.61 meters) above the neighbouring grade
  • Install a skylight in a Part 9 structure as long as no more than one joist, rafter, or similar structural member is cut or removed and no more than two meters separates any number of skylights
  • Provided there is no structural work, re-shingle a roof
  • Installing a chimney cover or line or repointing the chimney as part of minor repairs.
  • If your property’s drainage is contained, installing eavestroughs
  • Replacing or adding more plaster, gypsum board, or insulation
  • Constructing damp-proof basement
  • Decorate or paint
  • Install bathroom or kitchen cupboards without new plumbing
  • Erecting a fence (except for swimming pools – outside pools require a residential renovation permit)
  • Do electrical work (the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), however, must inspect electrical installations)
building permits in Toronto

How to Get a Residential Renovation Permit

The homeowner is legally responsible for acquiring any necessary residential renovation permit and should give the town all the required information, including precise plans for the remodeling project.

If hiring a home building contractor, especially if you are considering renovating custom luxury homes, it should state which licenses and residential renovation permits you require and if the renovator will get them on your behalf.

If so, a letter of authorization permitting the contractor to submit the residential renovation permit application on your behalf must be created. Furthermore, a good contractor will help you to have a better design inspiration, and fewer unexpected costs will rise.

A residential renovation permit application is available from the regional building department in your area. Send the residential renovation permit application to your local planning office for land-use permission and to the department of environmental quality or the local sanitation authority for septic and sanitation approval.

Additionally, you’ll be required to pay a residential renovation permit application cost. After submitting your residential renovation permit application, the municipality evaluates your plans and drawings to ensure you aren’t violating any safety regulations or significant zoning restrictions.

Municipalities work to speed up the evaluation procedure so homeowners can begin their projects. Residential renovation permits for smaller, easier projects are approved in a few days, but more complicated projects may require several weeks of evaluation.

A permit will cost at least $174 for a residential property. When you submit your request online, a $20 administrative fee must be paid. This non-refundable deposit will be applied to your permit’s overall price.

Remember that your residential renovation permit is only valid for the renovation project it was granted and that any improvements not covered by the permit call for a different permission.

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Completing a remodeling job without a residential renovation permit might be very stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. Until you receive permission, or worse, until you cease working, your town may issue an order halting your renovation process.

The City of Toronto has also released a very helpful guideline about residential renovation permits that would assist homeowners in organizing home renovation projects.

You can also get the additional information and assistance you require from your real estate agent and sources like your local homebuilder’s association, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and your real estate agent.