By Deborah Bowers
If you are planning a home renovation, whether it’s a DIY project or through a contractor, did you know that homeowners are legally responsible for obtaining building permits for relevant projects? A permit also helps to ensure your project is built with your family’s safety in mind.
“We know that Winnipeg homeowners take great pride in their homes and often plan renovation projects to create more comfortable homes for their families,” says Alana Crocker, Interim Manager of the Development & Inspections Division with the City of Winnipeg’s Planning, Property & Development Department. “In fact, since 2015, the total volume of all housing permits, which includes new construction, additions, renovations and accessory structures, has increased 34.9 per cent, while the volume of permits for housing renovations alone has increased 176.8 per cent. Winnipeggers have been busy — and we’ve been improving our permit process to assist residents with managing their construction projects.”
She adds that the Planning, Property & Development Department is available to help homeowners navigate the permit process, so that building projects are completed safely, and in accordance with both Manitoba Building Code and by-laws approved by City Council.
“Plus, as with projects of any type, it’s always cheaper to do it right the first time,” adds Crocker. To help Winnipeggers ‘get it right’ when managing renovation projects and associated permits, the department’s permits webpage (winnipeg.ca/permits) has a number of short how-to videos in addition to other information that can help homeowners start projects on the right foot.
The City offers the following permit process checklist:
• Know your role. Homeowners are ultimately responsible for permits and inspections. When a contractor is hired to take out a permit and complete work, homeowners are obligated to ensure that the work is carried out per the conditions of the permit. It’s important to stay informed on the progress of permit applications and the inspections process, and to ask questions if in doubt.
• Have a plan. Prepare all of the project details in advance of permit application.
• Does the work require a professional architect, engineer or a licensed contractor? Prior to submitting a permit application, there are opportunities to book an appointment with department staff to ensure that you have all of the information that you need to prepare your application.
• Read your permit when it is issued to understand all conditions of approval, fees and charges. Housing permits are issued digitally and applicants are provided a ZIP file to access issued plans and documents. Please don’t forget to access your files.
• The permit process is not a single step. It’s a process that needs to be managed. The easiest way to monitor your permit is through Permits Online.
Obtaining and closing a permit can facilitate a smooth future sale of your home. The department offers the opportunity to search property addresses online (winnipeg.ca/permitsearchbyaddress) to determine if permits have been issued and closed. Successfully managing your permit will not only result in a successful project, but will provide you with useful documentation to support any future plans.
Permits Online is a tool that Winnipeg homeowners can use to manage the permit process.
“It’s a one-stop-shop to manage your active permits and applications,” says Crocker. “Having a Permits Online account enables you to manage your permit from the comfort of your home, saving you time because you don’t have to make trips to the permit office.”
After a homeowner applies for a building permit at the permit office, located at Unit 31 - 30 Fort Street in Winnipeg, the rest of the construction process can be conveniently managed online. Once you create and activate a Permits Online account, you’ll be able to view and manage your active permits and applications by tracking the status, submitting documents, and making payments.
Plus, when your project is ready for inspections, the City has expanded its inspections service for homeowners to include weekday and Saturday appointments.
The City’s Online Permit Resources
Looking for the right link?
For more information on permits, to view how-to videos, and to learn about what projects require a building permit, go to: winnipeg.ca/permits
To learn about managing the permit process online, go to: winnipeg.ca/permitsonline
If you’re planning on buying or flipping a home, it’s a good idea to complete a permit search to ensure there are no open permits. Go to: winnipeg.ca/permitsearchbyaddress
For any questions about the permit process, please call 204-986-5140 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
— City of Winnipeg Planning, Property & Development