Building Permits Are Not Optional Paperwork!

Almost 15,000 people enjoyed a tremendous Kitchen Bath and Renovation Show recently. There were many products and services on display that provided consumers with considerable information for their next renovation project.

The show provided considerable impetus to convince people that the project they have been thinking of is definitely within reach.

Last Saturday in this section of the paper, Mike Holmes provided sound advice when proceeding with a renovation. He talked about the importance of obtaining a building permit. Yes, these things can be a nuisance. You have to fill out forms, pay money and wait for them to be processed. Furthermore, the friend of a friend who is doing the work for you told you that you don't need a permit and he'll do the work for cash to save you even more money on taxes. WRONG!

Your first step should be to get a new contractor because this person is going to send you directly to the poorhouse. The City of Winnipeg has a tremendous website within the Planning Property and Development Department that clearly explains when you do and do not require a building permit. Consult this first as your building permit is your insurance policy.

Next, find an honest renovator, one who takes out all necessary permits, one who collects and pays all appropriate taxes and one who has the necessary insurance. In other words, one who follows the RenoMark Code of Ethics.

In Mike Holmes' column, he stresses the importance of the building permit. He talks about how the permit is a permanent record of the building activity to be done. The city or permit granting agency then has an obligation to follow up with an inspection to make sure everything has been done right and building codes and practices have been followed.

Mike is very direct in saying the building permit is the responsibility of the homeowner. I would alter that slightly by saying it is the responsibility of the homeowner to make sure the contractor has taken out all necessary permits. Don't let work start without them.

Don't take them out in your name because the name on the permit implies responsibility and liability for the job and work site. A truly professional contractor knows the system and willingly accepts responsibility for the job.

Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builder' Association.

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