“Should I or should I not apply for a building permit?”
This is one of the most frequently asked questions we receive from homeowners at our initial basement finishing consultations.
Our answer: it is essentially up to you, the homeowner. Although our company opts for projects where a building permit is obtained, our quality of work will not differ whether you apply for a permit or not. We are committed to providing high quality workmanship no matter what. However, if you chose not to apply for a building permit, you will be required to sign a waiver stating that you take full responsibility for any possible penalties and/or fees associated with not applying for a building permit.
It is important to be aware that the only way you, the homeowner, can be certain that the contractor is following building codes and is providing the best quality of materials and workmanship, is by applying for a building permit.
When applying for a building permit, an inspector will be sent to the job site after each stage of construction and will verify whether or not the contractor is following proper building codes. If something is not done according to those codes, the inspection will not pass and the contractor will have to remedy the problem(s) in a timely manner.
Building Without a Permit is Against the Law
It is your personal responsibility, as the homeowner, to ensure that a building permit is obtained before you start construction on your home. Building without a permit is against the law and could result in you and/or your contractor being subject to fines or penalties as set out in the Building Code Act.
By not obtaining a building permit, you also risk having your insurance coverage canceled if the cause of any fire or water damage to your home would be the direct result of poor workmanship that did not meet the requirements of proper building codes. And how can you then prove to the insurance company that the contractor actually followed building codes? – You can’t. The only way you would be able to prove that the basement has been finished according to proper building codes is by having the inspector’s final approval. In reality, it is important to have a building permit for your own protection.
Will your insurance cost increase? There is a chance it might slightly increase. However, speaking from previous experience, we have seen instances where the insurance didn’t change at all, or was actually reduced after the client called and let the insurance company know that their basement has just been finished.
Will your taxes increase? Yes, more than likely it will. But don’t think of a drastic increase. The increase will be minimal compared to the value a newly finished basement will add to your home.
At the end of the day, you as a homeowner, have to take in consideration the risks you take for not applying for a building permit. Is it really worth saving a little to risk a lot? Well, if you are a risk taker, then it’s up to you. But if you’re like us, then we like to protect our families and ourselves and we suggest you do the same.
As stated above, we will not refuse to take on a project even if you choose not to obtain a building permit. Our company takes pride in following building codes at all times, whether a permit has been obtained or not because we will “do it right, or not do it at all”. However, we will not take responsibility for any penalties incurred because of the choice the homeowner made. When it comes down to it, the decision is not ours, but yours.
We are honest and transparent with the way we work and we want you to make intelligent decisions. We don’t judge you for those decisions, but we do want you to understand the risk factors of not choosing to apply for a building permit.