Permits and approvals

Renovations and additions will require municipal permits and approvals. After your design and drawings are completed, the permit process can begin. Although your design-builder is usually responsible for acquiring your permits, it is essential that you understand the timelines involved in acquiring the permits and to ensure that the appropriate permits have been obtained.

There are 3 phases to the permit process:

1. Zoning Approval
Before your permits can be obtained, your design-builder will check to see if your home and proposed project meet municipal guidelines. It is possible that your home may not conform to the guidelines because the guidelines have changed over the years. In this case, your home is considered a legal non-conforming structure. It is also possible that you currently conform but the proposed renovation will not conform. For example, assume you would like to add an additional floor to your bungalow. The guidelines state that single-level homes may be built 4 feet from the lot line but 2-story homes must be 6 feet away. If your house is currently 4 feet from the lot line, it will not meet municipal guidelines with the proposed addition.

2. Committee of Adjustments
If your proposed addition or renovation does not meet municipal guidelines, you have to make application to the Committee of Adjustments for variance relief. With proper plans and a qualified design-builder, approvals are usually obtained without issue.

3. Building Permits
After all the approvals have been obtained, you are ready to acquire building permits. These permits are your proof of municipal approval and must be displayed at your job site throughout your construction project.

An experienced design-builder will painlessly navigate you through the permit process.

The time it takes to complete the permit process will depend on the availability of your municipal agents and the experience of your design-builder to present your plans coherently. After permits are obtained, your design-builder will be able to schedule work and inspections. Building Inspections are your guarantee that the work is being done properly and according to building codes.

Omitting the permit process could leave you exposed to the following liabilities:

repetition of the work if it does not meet current building codes

removal of the work if the city files an Order to Comply on your property

lawsuits due to the perceived damage caused by an illegal, non-conforming structure

delayed completion due to Work Stoppage orders

Building inspections are your guarantee that your design-builder's work meets the current building codes and is being done correctly.

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