Time to renovate?

Before you swing that hammer, get a building permit.

You can find countless online articles promising a stress-free renovation. Others, more realistically, offer tips to reduce the stress of remodelling. One consistent piece of advice is to avoid surprises.

When you’re tearing down walls and opening up spaces, that is more easily said than done. There will always be surprises that come up in the course of a renovation. 

But there is one thing that can be done to lessen stress levels: get a building permit. Many people—especially DIYers—might be surprised to learn that they need a permit. In Calgary, they are necessary for any renovation that goes beyond cosmetic changes. 

There might be a temptation to do an out-of-permit renovation, but the hazards are clear. For one, without a permit there is no guarantee that the work will follow the building code. That has big implications for the quality of the job and even the safety of residents.

Homeowners who renovate without a permit also risk fines or being forced to fix the reno. There can also be problems when it comes time to sell the house. Potential buyers could walk away after learning about out-of-permit renovations. 

The City of Calgary has made it easier to apply for permits online. This reduces the hassle. If you want to remove it entirely a contractor can handle the application. Hiring a reputable contractor also brings the peace of mind of knowing the work will comply with the building code.

There are plenty of online resources that will ease the stress of finding a good contractor. RenoMark is a national organization of contractors that abide by a renovation Code of Conduct. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association offers tips and a member directory on its website. In Calgary, the Better Business Bureau offers workshops on how to hire a contractor.

These resources are a good place to start for those considering a renovation. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to do a little reading about how to further reduce stress. But the best advice is to limit renovation surprises to things that were impossible to anticipate. Remove those that you should have seen coming a mile away. 

October 18th, 2019

Before you swing that hammer, get a building permit.