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Why planning is critical in renovations

Overview

Published: 07/23/2012

by Bruce Cromie

If you are considering a major or minor renovation for your home this

year, now is the time to start planning. If your project is going to require a permit,

it generally will take at least three months to obtain one.

Any project that is going to affect the structure of your existing house requires

a permit. These projects include, but are not limited to, front additions, rear additions

with or without basements and crawl spaces, front porches, new dormers,

porticos, second-storey additions, separate entrances, major basement renovations,

basement apartments, swimming pools, some backyard decks and

some sheds.

The rule of thumb for whether or not you need a permit for a smaller backyard

project such as a deck or shed relates to whether it is to be larger than

100 square feet in area, more than two feet off the average grade, or attached to

the house. Projects that probably do not require a permit include landscaping, interlock

patios, driveways, fences, decks that are less than 100 square feet and not

attached to the house, and backyard structures smaller than 100 square feet.

Even though these do not require permits, you must be sure that you do

adhere to your local bylaws. Information on them is available from your community

bylaw office.

The personnel at bylaw departments are usually quite obliging. You often can get the

required information over the phone or by fax. Permits are not something

to fear. In fact, they ensure that your project is built properly. The worst part about getting

a permit is the time required to get the actual permit, and the delays that they

frequently cause during the construction phase. Delays are especially

frustrating for smaller projects that are on the borderline of whether they require a

permit or not.

Several inspections are required at various points of the construction, the number

depending on how complicated the project is. Generally, the inspections are

broken down into the following areas: building inspection, plumbing inspection,

HVAC inspection, fire prevention inspection and electrical inspection. Several

inspections and approvals are required for each of these five categories.

On smaller projects, you’ll find that tradespeople do not have the time to sit

around waiting for an inspector to show up. Many times you have to wait two days

for an inspector to arrive. In the meantime, the tradespeople will have moved

on to another job. Usually, once a job has been started, no one wants to

leave until it is finished. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and a vicious

circle starts.

The client sees that the inspector has shown up and rightfully expects that the

project should start again immediately. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not possible

due to the stage that your tradespeople may be at with the other job they have moved to. Keep in mind

that reputable and professional contractors do their best to keep all of their

clients happy. As you can see, the renovation business is a complicated balance of adhering

to the proper inspections and approvals, keeping the client happy, and doing so in

a professional and timely manner. You can get your project under way

by calling a few contractors to get their thoughts on your idea. Since a qualified,

professional, reputable contractor may be hard to find, we’ll give you some tips

in our next issue.

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