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Do You Need Permission? Renos That Need Building Permits.


Are you anxious for your trusted renovator or builder to get started on the project you’ve been planning together since the pandemic locked everyone down about 18 months ago? Of course, you are! Business is booming for most in the home renovation profession, everyone from electricians and builders to painters and plasterers.

But wait: before the tradespeople start hammering and the window replacement crews arrive, we must ask: did you apply for and receive a building permit? This is something your renovator will review with you, of course. But we want to offer some tips and guidelines for acquiring permits before you hire anyone, so that right off the bat you’re working on the correct side of the bureaucratic red tape.

There are a few home renovation projects that don’t require permits. A good rule of thumb is this: if you are not altering the structure of your home and all the work is happening inside, (for example you’ve hired painters to refresh the main rooms and a designer to update the rec room) you may not need a permit. But if you’re doing anything outside, or anything involving plumbing or electrical work, you must have a permit.

And here’s an important note if you’re considering buying a new home that the seller renovated, find out if they had a permit. Otherwise, you may find yourself in possession of a place in which the new deck off the kitchen, a DIY project the seller was proud of, has to come down because a building permit was not acquired. That kind of problem is not uncommon, we are sorry to report.

Now you’re considering a major reno of some part of your home, and wondering: will I need a permit for this? Here are some guidelines that answer the most common questions on just that topic.

1) Anything regarding the home’s foundation needs a permit. Whether it’s repairs or alterations, chances are you need the city’s say so, no matter where in Alberta you’re located.

2) If you’re changing anything electrical or plumbing related, get a permit. These are often interior changes, but nonetheless you need officials’ permission to get started.

3) Fireplaces. This, too, is an interior change, but you need a permit to have a fireplace installed. Fireplaces have all kinds of municipal regulations governing them, so ask first and build later.

4) Adding more than five square feet requires a permit. Most reputable builders will insist you have a permit even if you want this small amount of space added, because it’s always best, where bureaucracy is concerned, to err on the side of caution. And they are right to insist, because having to tear something apart because it doesn’t meet safety standards is upsetting to everyone involved in the project.

As you may have gathered reading this, there are few situations that don’t call for permits when renovating your home, particularly when you’re adding space or re-configuring an existing one. We help our clients in the permit application process when they need it, or you can apply to municipal authorities yourself. For more information and to get started on this contact:

That website has all the information you need about building permits – how to apply, what they cover, and plenty more.

We are happy to help you too. Contact us anytime for information, guidance and further details about acquiring a building permit anywhere in Alberta. It’s our profession, our specialty, and our pleasure to help your home renovation dreams come true.

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