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Do You Need A Permit To Finish A Basement In Ontario?

You might think that only major renovations require building permits – you know, a project like building an addition on the home. But that’s not true, and many homeowners might be surprised to learn that permits from the city are required for smaller jobs, too. This includes finishing basements!

When Would I Need A Permit For Finishing My Basement?

Requiring a permit for your basement renovations depends on the extent of the work you have planned. Every municipality adheres to roughly the same rules under the Ontario Building Code. For homes in London, adding any finished area to your basement will require a City of London Building Permit if your project includes the following:

  • Insulation
  • Adding fixtures to the plumbing electrical, gas, etc.
  • Changing the uses of the room
  • Moving or altering walls and openings
  • Creating, changing, enlarging, or altering windows and doors
  • Moving, changing, or rebuilding the stairs
  • Anything that involves the foundation

As well, electrical work may require a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA); this is not issued by the City of London.

Why Do I Need A Permit?

The reason there are permits is to protect the structural integrity of the home for the future. Any alterations to load-bearing walls, partitions, doors and windows could affect the safety and stability of the home. The downside is that there is a considerable amount of oversight involved. The municipality requires detailed plans of the renovation to the house and any request additional documentation. Your building permit will also include a list of the inspections required for your specific project. The inspector will be engaged with you and the reno company while the project is underway to see if the work complies with building codes and regulations.

There are consequences for not getting a permit. You could face a fine, or the municipality may force you to remove walls, ceilings, cabinets and other finishes so that an inspector can determine if the work complies with the building requirements. In the worst case, they’ll have the renovation removed entirely.

By not getting a permit, you could severely hurt your ability to resell the house, because these documents are especially important for new homeowners. A permit is a record that the renovations were completed safely, and potential buyers could ask for one so that they do not find out that this newly-renovated house was not structurally sound, or that the electrical system was a fire hazard until after they have purchased the home. By not having the permit, homebuyers could request a price reduction to offset the risks. If you don’t provide the proof of a permit, you could also be declined from filling out a mortgage refinancing application. Contact us to learn more!