Sep 24, 2012 / 5:00 am
Do I need a permit? That’s a question that I’m asked regularly in the field and in most cases the answer is –“you betcha”.
Here’s what qualifies for permitting according to the City of Kelowna’s website (have a close look at the first item)….
Building Permits are required for:
- an alteration of any building, structural or non-structural
- the design and construction of a new building
- the change in occupancy of any building
- an addition to any building
- the demolition of any building
- the reconstruction of any building that has been damaged
- the correction of an unsafe condition in or about any building
- all parts of any building affected by a change in occupancy
- the alteration, rehabilitation and change of occupancy of heritage buildings
- construction of all accessory buildings 10 sq. metres (108 square feet) and larger
- placement of buildings and structures (ie: mobile homes)
- construction of retaining walls greater than 1.2 m in height
- construction of swimming pools
- construction of parking lots
- installation of building canopies, marquees and awnings
- placement of hoarding
- installation of solid fuel burning appliances
- installation of extinguishing equipment over cooking appliances
- installation of canopies over cooking appliances
In part, permits issued by the City of Kelowna are intended to ensure that structural and non-structural alterations to buildings are done to code and to prevent safety hazards. Permits are an insurance policy of sorts to make sure that the work you or your contractor is doing is being done properly. As the work progresses it is intended that the installation of significant components are qualified and approved.
Permits can be viewed as a partial yardstick to measure the performance of your contractor, especially in complicated renovations. If you encounter problems or if you have the unfortunate situation where your project ends in litigation, you’ll have some pretty substantial paperwork to rely on. Not having a permit can put you in a vulnerable position. In some cases you may be faced with the costs of having to remove work to correct it and to make it compliant with bylaws. Inspectors check to make sure that everything is to code, and sometimes have suggestions that will make the final product better.
Many homeowners weigh the need of obtaining a permit against the scope of work. With the homeowner calling the shots, some hire contractors solely based on whether a permit is involved or not - leaving the competency of the contractor completely out of the equation.
The preconceived idea that you’re saving money when operating without a permit should be weighed carefully. The renovation business is a tough sector to be in. Prices vary from contractor to contractor for similar work. Most homeowners have a threshold budget for their renovation and permitting is often not reflected upon.
The cost of permitting is regularly met with skepticism of its value. A common view is that it is a cash grab and that a permit is an unnecessary annoyance. A quick look at the City of Kelowna’s permit activity to the end of August 2012 reveals that there were 20 permits issued in the whole city for renovations to single family dwellings (220 year to date). Permits issued for apartment renovations numbered 1 (15 year to date). Only 2 permits were handled at City Hall for mobile home renovations so far this year.
As an experienced guy, I can confidently say that getting to know a good contractor with code knowledge is a prudent move to get construction work done properly. Leave it to the folks at City Hall to determine your permitting needs.
For more information on permits click here.
(Photo: Hugh Cairns)
Building permits are designed to protect your building and, more importantly, you. They establish, maintain and improve standards for the construction and maintenance of buildings for the health and safety of people using them.
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