Home renovation and what to ensure before home renovation

What to ensure before starting your home renovation

Are you worried that you have to get permits and approvals before you start your project?Look no further!

We have compiled a list of things you would need before you start your home renovation,

Ensuring that you have all that you need going forward.

Deciding to take on a home renovation project involves spending a lot of time deciding between designs, budgets and contractors. Finding inspiration can take up a considerable amount of time and is the most crucial step in determining what you want to renovate in your home (for more tips on finding inspiration, check out this blog on Unaagi). Once you decide on the type of home renovation that would work best for your home, you will have then gone through the process of finding the perfect contractor (you can check out this blog on Unaagi for tips on finding the perfect contractor). 


However, before starting your home renovation, it is of the utmost importance to determine if you will need a building permit from your city or country to carry out the project. In most cases, if you hire a contractor, they will be responsible for securing the necessary permits. In this article, we go through:


  1. The importance of getting a permit when it is required
  2. What types of renovations require permits
  3. Typical renovation permit application process. 



We will also look at instances when you may apply for the permits yourself vs. the contractor and the issues that will arise if you fail to secure the necessary permits before commencing your renovation work.

Do I need a building permit?


Most cities and countries have their guidelines and processes. However, some themes emerge that clarify the permitting requirements.


These permits are written authorizations issued by the city or country to carry out the planned construction. Safety codes are constantly changing, and to gain revenue, cities and countries may shift more projects to the ‘permit required’ list.


These permits are ultimately in place to ensure the safety of the construction work and its compliance with building, construction, and zoning codes.


Therefore, this aspect is something to keep in mind when considering a home renovation, ensuring that you have the required permits before starting.

Do all types of home renovation projects require a building permit?

Most home renovations fall under the general categories of public and personal safety, plumbing, electrical and natural gas.

Home renovation projects that fall under these categories will most often not require permits.

Usually, your local building code will determine if your home renovation project needs a permit. Its code governs each municipality and, in turn, has its permitting requirements.

These building codes mirror regional issues. For instance, some areas with warmer weather may have building codes that focus on safety considerations caused by humidity and heat.

However, in areas prone to forest fires, the building codes might have strict fireproofing requirements.


Depending on the scope of your home renovation, it is also important to verify if you would need special system permits, such as electrical, plumbing or mechanical permits.

For instance, you may need to obtain a plumbing permit if you plan to install an underground lawn sprinkler. Or, you may need a mechanical permit if you plan to install a central air conditioning unit.

Although this may differ from each region and city, home renovation projects that are most likely to require a building permit change the structure or use of a building or have the potential to create unsafe working conditions. For instance, you will likely need a building permit to:

• add or remove walls

• change the use of a room (such as by converting a garage to a living room)

• change the piping in your house

• re-roof your house, or

• demolish a portion of your house


Projects that don’t usually need a permit include:

• repainting your house

• adding kitchen cabinets

• replacing certain kitchen appliances

• repaving your driveway

• installing floor coverings, or

• erecting a small fence


However, it is crucial to consult your city building and permit office to determine the specific permits you may need for your home renovation. You may find most of this information online, or you could even contact them over the phone for further information.

How do I get a permit?


Permits are usually obtained through your local municipal government office or your city building and permit office. Some home renovation projects, depending on their scope, may receive the permit immediately. However, other more complex projects may require an inspection of the plans.


For complex projects, inspections of the work during the renovation process will likely be required. And, once the work is complete, a final inspection may also occur before issuing a permit.


The typical steps to obtaining a building permit for your home renovation are as follows:


1. Complete the required permit application as stated by your city or region’s relevant authority.


2. Prepare a site plan for the project. If your project is extensive, you might need to hire an architect or other professional to draw the project as it will be constructed (to ensure that it will meet building and zoning codes).


3. Schedule an appointment for the approval of your plan. You might be able to receive approval in person at an “over-the-counter” review. Or the city might take several days or weeks to review the plans. The process can take even longer depending on the requirements of the approval authority.


4. Get the permit. In-home renovation projects where a permit is required, you will need to obtain it before starting any construction on your property.


5. Schedule inspections. Once you start construction, you will also need to schedule regular inspections as specified throughout the process so that the city can verify that you are following the guidelines and site plan that has been confirmed.


6. Complete your project and obtain final city approval.


It is important to remember that this process varies by location, and more or fewer steps are required.


Who obtains the required building permit?


If you hired a contractor for your project, this would be useful in the process of obtaining a building permit (you can check out this blog on Unaagi for tips on finding the perfect contractor). Your contractor would usually arrange for your permit, ensuring that the required paperwork and documents are provided to the issuing authority.


The contractor will then be held responsible for the construction, following the building codes and ensuring compliance with the city or region’s regulations.



Contractors are usually familiar with the process of obtaining a permit and would have previously worked with the city’s inspectors on past projects.


However, if your contractor is charging per hour and your home renovation project isn’t too complex, it might be advisable to complete the permit paperwork and submit it yourself.


If you do apply for a permit yourself, you would be liable for the construction work done. Thus, if you are hiring a contractor for the entirety of the project, it is advisable to ensure that they submit the paperwork so that they are liable for any mishaps during the construction.

What if I don't obtain a permit?

If you think your home renovation project requires a permit, it is best to get a permit. The process may be long and require a lot of effort.

However, it will be better than later dealing with the relevant authorities if they somehow find out you haven’t obtained a permit. The authorities may then force you to obtain a permit before resuming construction and could even severely increase the permitting fees.

There may also be an instance where the authorities may ask you to stop construction indefinitely or require you to undo any work that may have already been done. This may be due to work not being done according to the appropriate building codes.

This may have a significant impact in the future if you plan to sell your house and these issues come to light. Unpermitted construction will lower the value of your home, and you may have to bring it up to the required building code as a condition of the sale.

Thus, it is not worth taking such a risk, as it can significantly negatively impact your home. Necessary permits are also vital for updating home insurance cover so that the renovation work is covered in case of applicable calamities.

In summary, researching the required permits for your home renovation and ensuring that your contractor will obtain the permit is crucial before you start construction.

Since each municipality has different rules, it is important to check with the relevant authorities to obtain a permit. 

Ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure that the project holds the proper permits. It is the contractor’s responsibility to follow the required guidelines and adhere to the building codes.

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