Photo by Rod Detty

Update: Contacting your city for planning permits should be done before you begin work on your home remodel. Plumbing, wiring and structural changes need to be finalized by contractors and architects so that your city has the most professional, up to date plans to work from. That way, any problems can be encountered early and modified at the planning stage – otherwise, you may find yourself having to go back and retrospectively redo work you have already completed if planning is rejected. Though you may be impatient to start on your remodeling project, it’s best in the long run to wait until all your plans have been approved.

You should not start work on a remodel till permits covering all the relevant aspects of the remodel have been obtained. Every municipality has a building inspection division that should be contacted to get an idea of the nature of permits required as well as the costs and procedures involved. As a rule of thumb, all structural, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical remodels require a permit. Permits are typically not required for work where the original structure is not being changed. Such work can include painting work, siding that does not involve structural work. Examples of remodel work that would require a permit include removing load bearing walls, altering doorways, and replacing sheathing as a part of re-roofing work.

The blueprint for a remodel can be drawn up with the help of the architect and the contractor should not be treated as final until it has met with an approval from the civic authorities. Usually, drafts drawn with the help of experienced contractors do not have any elements that civic authorities may find objectionable with respect to planning. Documents required for obtaining a permit include a building plan of the existing structure and a plan of the proposed remodel with specifics of the parts of the home to be remodeled. This allows the authorities to understand the extent of remodel desired and they then levy the remodel fees accordingly. The cost of issuing a permit includes a flat fee, an application fee, and a minimum archive fee.


Obtaining a building permit involves several stages that start with the submission of the plans well before the actual remodel work has started. The plans are first submitted and approved, then the remodel begins and mid-way through the remodel a municipality-appointed contractor pays a visit to the remodel site to approve the work done till that time. As a homeowner, you will be better-served if you organize your remodeling activities and work according to priorities.