Knowing that home renovations are allowed before purchasing property

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Posted by: from Mount Albert
1/18/2013 at 7:10:43 AM

Hi there,

I was curious if there is a way to know that I could be granted a permit before I buy a property. Is this possible?

The only way I would buy a property is to know I will be able to renovate on it.



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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 9:07:55 AM

Hi Jo,

To get a permit, drawings are required. This makes things tough if you cannot get into the house.

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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 9:24:38 AM

Hi Jo,

There are a couple of things you could do.

You could make a list of the things you would like to do to the property and take it to the local permit office, they would be able to tell you if there are any restrictions in the area relative to your list. For example the area may not allow fibre glass balconys, etc.

You could ask your realtor, he/she should know if previous clients have been able to renovate their property.

You could ask a local contractor also, if he is experienced he will know whether the things you plan to do are allowed.

The last thing I would consider doing is having some plans drawn up, this requires an investment on your part but once they are submitted you will have a definitive answer.



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Joanne in Mount Albert
Date/Time1/18/2013 at 9:36:23 AM

Would I put it in as a condition in the buying process? eg. The sale is conditional based on the permits coming through?

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Fernando from FGM Contracting Ltd in Etobicoke
Date/Time1/18/2013 at 9:46:11 AM

Hi Joanne,

You could take a survey of the property over to city hall and tell them about the renovations you are thinking of doing. From that they should be able to tell you if you can do your reno.

You can apply for a permit before the house closes, but you won't be able to start work until you take possession of the house.

Hope this helps



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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 9:57:06 AM


Permits are usually granted to home owners however as I understand it you want to make changes as soon as the purchase goes through.

Contact your local permit people ( it varies from city, county, province) and ask the questions. Where I am it is a County office but inspections are done by a private company. Either way, explain what you want to do and they can assist.

Have fun.

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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 11:16:24 AM


I have never seen a property where a permit was not granted.

I do not think you could get a permit on a property you do not own as you have no rights to the property legally.

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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 11:27:18 AM

I would make the offer conditional on your being able to have an architect or contractor measure and put together the plans for the renovation.

In addition, the existing home owner would have to grant access to the relevant inspectors prior to the purchase so the renovations could be approved.

It should be made clear to the municipality that you will be the home owner at the time the renovations will take place. Your name must appear on the applications for permit.

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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 5:34:27 PM

I would like to know that too!

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Date/Time1/18/2013 at 8:31:08 PM

First you should make a list, including sketchs of the renos you want to do, and bring that to the city's building department and ask if there are any restrictions on the property that would not allow you to move forward. Do not trust your realtor or any contractor, the city has the final say in this matter.

You can make a permit approval part of the sale, not common but possible. You can also apply for a permit yourself, you just need the owner to make you his "agent". Most permits are transferable between owners for a small fee.

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Joanne in Mount Albert
Date/Time1/19/2013 at 5:53:46 AM

Thank you all. These are all great comments. I have searched on the web for any answers and I couldn't find a thing.

I have basic sketches I have done myself. I just didnt want to invest in proper drawings or the permit until the property was mine. I just wanted to know that I would be granted the permission to do what I wanted to do before I went through with the sale.

Thanks again for all of your feedback.


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Randy from RJ Interiors in Orillia
Date/Time1/19/2013 at 7:29:10 AM

My understanding is the only time you may have an issue is when the property is deemed a historical site or if you are trying to turn a property Into a multi unit residence like a triplex or commercial when the zoning dosnt allow for that.

Another snag you may run into is if you are trying to add an additional onto the property in which case you would have to ensure the property is big enough for the size of the addition and zoning allows.

You can find these answers at the local building offices.

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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 11:30:23 AM

Hi Joanne,

City can only grant permits for the home owner. You can't able to apply for the permit as long as the house title not under your name.

The only thing that you could do is to visit your city with the list of the items that you want to do, and they could advise. However still you could not take this result or answers to your question for granted as long as you don't have a documents on place.



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Date/Time1/21/2013 at 2:58:33 PM

Hi Jo,

Yes it is possible to get a permit before you purchase and receive title of the property. I have done this before! In order to do this, you need to have an agents Authorization form from the registered owners. If you have an agreed upon purchase agreement, this should not be a problem. You can then use the agency form to apply.

Any renovation you are considering should not be a problem as long as it conforms to city bylaws. If you go to city hall they have a general inquiries desk where you can ask all your questions pertaining to city by-laws.

Good Luck.

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