What Things Require Approval to do to Your Home?

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What Do You Need Permission to Do to Your Home?

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If you own a home, you have a lot of freedom over what you can do with it. You certainly can do more than you could if you were renting a house. But there are alterations that require permission from the government and/or the community. Before you do anything drastic to your home, find out if you need approval first.

Whose permission?

It may seem unfair that you can own a property but not be allowed to do certain things to it. Many outside forces feel that they have a stake in the appearance and condition of your property, even if you own it outright. Laws and regulations on homes vary greatly depending on your neighbourhood and province, but there are some organizations that you should always consult before making any drastic change.
  • Many neighborhoods or towns have something in their government called building control. You need to contact them if you are planning a substantial alteration.
  • A lender that you owe for your mortgage on your house can dictate what is done to your home.
  • Local homeowners' associations may object to you drastically changing the outer appearance of your home in their neighbourhood.
  • Large renovations require the use of a construction permit.
  • Although not required, it is considered good manners to notify neighbours if you are going to do any renovations that require loud construction or change the boundaries or views that they have.
  • Anything you do that goes within one metre of the end of your property line needs to be cleared with the town.
There are many other authorities who you could or should ask for permission, but building control is the most important one. They should direct you to every other place you need to go to get permission for your alteration.

What alterations need permission?

Unfortunately, there is no set list of things that require permission in every neighbourhood. For the most part, you should be wary of anything that drastically alters the exterior appearance of your property, its safety, or your property boundaries.

Here are some things that could either require permission or be prohibited in your neighbourhood:
  • Building an extension
  • Removing walls
  • Altering your plumbing or drainage
  • Rewiring your home's electricity
  • Installing large heating appliances
  • Altering your chimney
  • Redoing your roofing
  • Creating rooms in loft space
  • Building a large garage
  • Building a large deck
  • Painting your home's exterior
  • Adding outdoor lighting or electricity
  • Planting large trees or plants

There also are zoning laws that only allow for some types of buildings in certain areas. You can't turn your home into a business without permission, for example. 

You also need to demonstrate some level of competence with maintaining your home. If your lawn goes uncut for year, you could get the city's attention and they may start knocking on your door. Unsightly homes drive the area's property value down, so the town does have some stake in how your home looks. If your home is in such disrepair or so dirty that someone can declare it unsafe, it will be condemned and you will be evicted. If you've seen an episode of Hoarders, you know how this can happen. While keeping your home in disrepair isn't necessarily something you can ask permission to do; you can't choose to have it fall apart without facing repercussions.

If you don't get the required permission and attempt to do any of these alterations, you put yourself at risk.

  • Your unlicensed extension or deck will be uninsured and possibly not up top safety standards.
  • If found out, you could face fines and be forced to undo whatever you did at your own expense.
  • If you made your home unsafe it could be condemned and you could be evicted.
  • You could be kicked out of a homeowners' group you were in.
If you are unsure if your home alteration needs permission to be done, you should err on the side of caution. Contact the local building control representatives and find out if you are about to break a rule with your home.

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on November 6, 2014

TopMoving.ca - Moving Expert
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