Why you need a Building Permit

Are you planning to renovate the interior or exterior of your home?

If your home renovation or improvement project changes the structure or systems in or around your home it’s important to ensure you know what building permits are required and to have the work inspected for safety.

 Why bother?

To make sure things are done properly and built soundly. And it’s one of the few assurances you have that your home is safe. If you think that you don’t need a building permit because you are just building a patio or converting your already existing basement into a secondary suite, you are misguided. A building permit gives you formal permission to build your project. It guarantees your renovation meets local building, electrical, plumbing and gas codes, as well as, community bylaws. The permit process will also make sure that any construction done is in accordance with municipal requirements, which might include heritage building designations and zoning regulations. Do yourself and favour and get proper building permits every time you plan on doing renovations that require one! You may save a few pennies now on permits up front if you avoid this step, but it could cost you thousands in fines and repairs later and might save you a lot of trouble down the line when you eventually go to sell your home.

What Renovations require a permit?

Most residential renovations will require at least one permit, depending on the type of the work being done. This includes additions, repairs, demolitions, and relocating jobs involving:

  • Building a new fence
  • Renovating your basement
  • Garage construction
  • Adding a new section to your home
  • Building a retaining wall over 1.2 m in height
  • Adding a secondary suit
  • Basement development
  • Building decks more than 60 cm above grade
  • Detached garages and carports
  • Swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds
  • Some fireplaces and stoves.
  • Building a laneway house or a backyard suite
  • Carports
  • Sunrooms/Pergolas
  • Natural Gas ranges and barbecues

Electrical or plumbing modifications also require a permit. A certified electrical contractor is responsible for applying and doing the electrical work. A certified mechanical professional should also do any work involving natural gas or heating installations.

On the other hand, home renovations that DO NOT typically require a building permit include:

  • Re-roofing
  • Re-siding
  • Re-flooring
  • Painting
  • Cabinet installation
  • Replacing fixtures, doors
  • Replacing windows (assuming the opening stays the same size)

…or any other renovation that does not change the systems and/or structure of your home.

Who is responsible for obtaining a building permit?

Homeowners are responsible for ensuring permits are obtained and inspections completed.  In most cases, contractors complete the permitting and inspection steps on your behalf. Having open communication with your home renovator regarding who will be obtaining the permits is essential. Double check with your contractor and take a look at your written contract – it should detail who supposed to acquire the permit. Make sure the proper steps are taken to acquire the right permit.

Calgary Alberta Permits and Inspections or Call 403.268.5311

Cochrane Alberta Permits and Inspections or Call 403.851.2572

Airdrie Alberta Permits and Inspections or Call 403.948.8832

Remember: Always call Alberta One Call before you dig: 1-800-242-3447


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