Building Permits: Why, When, Who & What

If you are like most homeowners, you may not be familiar with building permits or even aware that you might need one for your renovation project. Here are some of the ins and outs of building permits.

Why do I need a building permit?
Your home renovation must meet basic requirements for health, safety, and structural soundness as set out by the Building Code. The code has changed this year!  Make sure that your plans are up to code!  The permit process makes sure that your plans are in line with other municipal requirements, such as zoning regulations and heritage building designations.

When do I need a permit?
Generally, a building permit is required for renovations that involve changes to the structure or systems of your home. This includes new additions, garages/sheds, reconfiguration of space by moving or removing walls, new window and door openings, decks and installation of fireplaces and installation of siding or brick. In the City of Greater Sudbury you need a permit to replace the sheathing on your roof but not to replace the shingles.  Electrical and plumbing permits may also have to be obtained separately. Check with your municipal building permit office to be sure. Also, find out if you need a permit to demolish old structures such as a garage, shed or porch, or to cut down a tree on your property.

What do I need?
The specific requirements are available at the City of Greater Sudbury.  For simple interior projects, a scale floor plan will often be adequate. For larger projects involving additions, decks or major structural renovations, a full set of working drawings and a site survey may be needed. If your plan requires a minor variance or zoning bylaw amendment, you may be asked to supply additional information.

Who should get the permit – me or my renovator?
As the homeowner, you are legally responsible for obtaining any building permits required. However, your renovator can look after this on your behalf. Your contract should specify which permits are required and who will get them. You will need to authorize your renovator to apply for a permit for your renovation.   After the work begins, an inspector may visit your home to make sure it is done in compliance with municipal requirements. There may also be a separate electrical and plumbing inspection.

What happens if I don’t get a permit?
If you carry out a renovation project that requires a building permit without having one, your municipality can issue a “stop work” order, which remains in effect until you obtain a permit. If the work doesn’t meet the requirements of the Building Code, you may well have to redo it at your own cost. In worst case scenarios, you could be forced to “un-renovate” your home, such as removing an addition.  Should you sell your home, unpermitted work may come back to haunt you years down the road!

Working without a required permit may also affect an insurance claim arising from the renovation. Before any work begins on your home, check with your insurance representative. She can explain exactly what is needed to ensure continuous and adequate coverage, both during and after the renovation.

City of Greater Sudbury –  Building Services

Dial City of Greater Sudbury  – 311

3 Responses to “Building Permits: Why, When, Who & What”

  1. Liane quevillon says:

    Do you need a permit to renovate a bathroom if mildew as form and need to replace drywall on exterior wall

    • laura says:

      Liane Quevillon. Please contact the City of Greater Sudbury, Building Services at 311. They can help you determine if you need a permit for your project.

  2. I am glad you specified that as a homeowner you are responsible for the construction permits for your remodel. My dad is doing a home improvement project this year and is looking into how to get permits. Thanks for the information on how to get building permits.


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