Do I Need a Permit for Renovations?

This post is going to take a slightly different approach. Instead of giving thoughts or tips on maintaining your home, I’ve chosen to dedicate this post to educating and encouraging homeowners about the need for getting proper development permits before doing home renovations.

In some of the home inspections I’ve been performing lately I’ve seen a few renovations that were not done properly, and I can’t find a permit sticker anywhere. If you’re going to do some renovations to your home, please remember that in many cases, you need to get a permit from your municipality first. Here are a few guidelines to help you with this process and at the end I’ll give you the links to point you in the right direction.

According to the Alberta Safety Codes Act, an Electrical, Plumbing or Gas permit is required whenever electrical, plumbing and gas systems are installed, altered or relocated.

If you’re replacing the faucet in your kitchen sink, no permit required. If you’re going to move the kitchen sink a couple feet down the counter, you need a permit. That’s because to move the kitchen sink you either need to add or remove new supply and drain pipes to get to the new location.

If you’re replacing a light fixture, no permit is needed. If you’re going to move the fixture to a new location and run new electrical wires, then a permit is needed.

Replacing deck boards? No permit required. Building a new deck? A permit may be required depending on the size and height of the deck.

But most people will say “I know how to do this, why do I need a permit?” The answer is simple; it’s for your protection.  Building codes are updated on a regular basis based on new safety standards. When you apply for a permit, the city sends out an inspector to make sure that your work is done to the newest safety codes. This protects you, your family and your investment.

You also need to have your work approved by a building code inspector to protect you from potential legal issues. What if you do some electrical work yourself, and make a mistake, and that mistake burns down your home…and damages your neighbours home? How do you think your insurance company is going to respond when they find out you did some electrical work yourself without a permit and didn’t have it inspected?

Applying for the proper permits is a necessary step in doing renovations to your home. If you’re hiring a contractor, make sure they get the proper permits. If they say that permits are a waste of time or money, walk away. No decent contractor would be afraid to have their work inspected.  Why spend thousands of dollars on a new kitchen, then try to save a couple hundred on a permit when that permit is there to protect you?  It’s not a risk anyone should take.

The best thing to do is contact your local municipality, describe to them the work you’re considering, and ask which permits are required.

Depending on the municipality where you live, the permitting process can vary, so here are some links to the various municipalities in Edmonton and the surrounding area:

Residential permits

Strathcona County:
Residential permitting

St. Albert:
Building & Development Permits

Leduc County:
Development process/permits

Parkland County:
Building Permits

Fort Saskatchewan:
Permits & Services

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