Building permits in Toronto cover you to ensure your construction projects are safe, legal, and insured. However, negotiating which kind of projects need a permit can be a minefield.

Ontario has some of the most robust building regulations in Canada. If you’re considering a bathroom renovation in Toronto, here’s all you need to know about whether you need a permit and what you’re covered for.

Do you need a permit to renovate your bathroom?

Bathroom renovations can add space and functionality to your home, whether adding a new bathroom space or remodelling what you already have. Before starting your project, you’ll need to assess whether you need a building permit for the renovations you have in mind.

All renovation work must meet safety standards and comply with local regulations and building codes. Failure to comply could result in you being subjected to inspections, delays, and heavy fines.

So, how do you know if you need to apply for a permit to renovate your bathroom?

As a rule of thumb, renovations that lead to structural changes require a permit. This includes plumbing and electrical works related to bathtubs, showers, sinks, toilets, and any wall changes. So, if your bathroom renovation involves a change in the layout, you will need to contact the local building department at the local authority to apply for a permit.

However, you do not need a permit if your renovation doesn’t involve structural changes. So, suppose you’re sticking to cosmetic modifications, such as replacing the floor, painting, re-tiling, or replacing taps and other fixtures and fittings. In that case, you can begin without contacting your local authority.

Changes that require a permit

If you’re making changes to your bathroom within the city of Toronto, these are the times when you need to apply for a permit:

·         Structural alterations—If you’re making structural alterations, such as adding or removing walls or changing the size of doors and windows, this includes changing the size or layout of the bathroom and making changes, such as replacing a shower unit with a bathtub.

·         Pluming and heating – Any changes to your plumbing and heating systems or installing a new one.

·         Backwater valves If you’re installing a backwater valve

·         Change of Use If your renovation changes the use of space and rooms, such as changing a utility room into an additional bathroom.

Changes that don’t require a permit

Meanwhile, cosmetic changes that don’t change the layout or size of a room or changes to the walls, doors, windows, or plumbing don’t require a building permit.

These include:

·         Insulation – Adding or replacing old insulation.

·         Fixtures and fittings – Replacing or repairing plumbing fixtures and fittings, such as taps and plugs.

·         Cabinets – Attaching bathroom cabinets to walls.

·         Tanks – Installing hot water tanks and pumps.

What does a building permit cover?

Building permits cover different things depending on where you live. In Ontario, building permits are approved by the local authority and are usually valid for six months. They allow you to begin a construction project that makes physical alterations to the structure of the building.

This includes new constructions and demolitions of buildings or walls.

The permit shows that your renovation plans comply with all local regulations and are safe and legal. It ensures the integrity of the works and keeps everyone involved in the build safe from home. Anyone in Ontario can begin projects themselves so long as they’re working on their own property, regardless of their qualifications. Still, many individuals may prefer to use the services of professional contractors.

Ontario building codes

The Ontario Building Code came into effect in 1976 and has undergone several revisions since as techniques and technologies have progressed.

Whether amateur or professional, everyone participating in a renovation must follow standards to safeguard homeowners and the local authority. This demonstrates Ontario’s commitment to safe construction practices.

Separate permits may be required for specialised workers, such as plumbers, electricians, and heating engineers, to ensure they are certified to undertake the work safely and meet local regulatory standards. In addition, while the Ontario Building Code is usually needed for any kitchen renovations, that isn’t necessarily the case for bathroom works.

Performing work without a permit can have significant consequences. The permit system isn’t optional in Ontario; it’s a legal requirement. Failure to get a permit when required can lead to complications if you try to sell your home, invalidate your home insurance cover, and compromise safety.

Why you need a permit for bathroom renovations

Ensuring you begin your renovation project with the correct permits and licences ensures that you safeguard your home’s look and meet all regulatory and legal requirements. This helps to ensure your home’s value is protected.

Getting a permit for your bathroom renovation also safeguards you against legal challenges later and the hassle of undoing or redoing work following inspections from the local authority.

When do you need to obtain a permit?

You should obtain your permit before any construction work begins, especially any plumbing, electrical, or structural work.

Apply to your local authority, and the building department will review your plans in detail during the application process. Once they’ve reviewed your plans and asked any questions they need to, they’ll give you the green light to proceed. At this stage, you can begin the work.

Smaller projects typically see permits granted in about five business days, while larger projects can take up to a month to gain approval. So, leave yourself enough time for the application process before you want to begin work.

Who will handle my bathroom renovation permit?

If you’re handling the renovation yourself, you must apply for a permit from the local authority. If you have professional contractors supporting your project, they may help you navigate the application process or handle the permit yourself.

Others, meanwhile, may leave the entire process to you. So, it is crucial to understand when you need a permit for your bathroom renovation and how to apply.

Don’t get caught out; get your Ontario building permit

Undertaking a bathroom renovation that changes your bathroom’s size, layout, and plumbing requires you to get a building permit. As well as safeguarding the quality of your build by ensuring it complies with all local building regulations, having a permit can also add value to your home.

A bathroom renovation without a building permit could invalidate your home insurance, jeopardise any future sale, and potentially lead to fines.

So, if you want to undertake a bathroom renovation, get your building permit first.



Top Summer Home Improvement Projects
Bridgette Bar at The Well

Joel Levy