Process of getting a permit for basement renovation from 2 years ago?

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Posted by: from Toronto

My husband and in- laws are very handy, and spent a whole year renovating our basement (which was completely unfinished). We were idiots and trusted the wrong person, who told us no permits were required since the electrical was "basic", but I now see we really should have gotten one through ESA.

We installed potlights, ran new circuits throughout, etc. I'm confident they did a good job, and we even had an electrician friend review our work quickly before everything was covered and he said it looks great. However now I'm worried about potential insurance issues should, heaven forbid something happen and a fire break out.

We would like to "right our wrong" if possible, so my question is:

1) is it possible to get a permit now? Or another inspection that would suffice?

2) everything is drywalled, and finished and painted. We've been actively using the basement for over 2 years. Will the ESA make us remove all the drywall to inspect it? Or would they be satisfied cutting out a few "samples" and leaving most in place if they don't see any issues?

I can't be the first person who has had this issue, yet the ESA website says nothing about what do to if the work is already done, only mid-renovation. Anyone know what this process would look like?

I really don't want to rip out all the drywall in the basement :( it took a lot of work to get to this point.

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ESA will likely want to do what's called an ElecCheck. They come in and look at everything that has been done. Take apart receptacles, pot lights etc. I have never heard of ESA requiring drywall to be removed for further inspection.



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Call the ESA and ask the call center how to proceed. Whoever told you no permit was required was lying and is not a qualified electrical contractor. EVERY bit of new wiring requires a permit, changing a surface light to a recessed light requires a permit, replacing a circuit breaker requires a permit...The only exception would be a like-for-like product like a switch, dimmer, plug, or surface light. Any modifications MUST be permitted. Pigtailing aluminum wiring to copper requires a permit.

I have heard instances where homeowners insurance was cancelled because of this risk, not dealing with it and hiding it could only lead to a non-payment if something were to happen.

Call ESA and get an inspector in.

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Call the ESA and get the inspector in to check the work.

In some cases, inspectors ask to cut the drywall to see behind.

Best regard,


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I strongly recommend you call Esa right away and explain the situation because it happens too much in our business. You always need a electrical permit when your wiring in a basement! They will help you out because you're trying to do things right and you were lied to by your contractor. If you know that the electrical was done by a licensed electrician and have his name and number this will help as long as he is licensed. If not they normally David inspector check all the connections and Breakers that were tied into the existing or new electrical panel. Some cases may require cutting out a little bit of drywall here in there which can be easily patched after. Be safe be smart call today get this rectified. Wish you the best. Jeff

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Oneil from Powersource Electric

Hello Jessica,

I recently had a client with a similar situation however, we were able to successfully assist the client with correcting defects and acquiring a positive certificate of inspection.

In regards to your questions,I would recommend that we do a site visit to ascertain the scope of work done and if any defects are present. Secondly there is always the possibility for a portion of the drywall needing to be removed to allow for better visualization by inspector.

Powersource electric Inc

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I'm not an expert in building permits or electrical inspections, but I can offer some general information that might help you with your situation:

Obtaining a Permit: It is often possible to obtain a permit after the work has been completed, but the process can vary by location and the specific work done. Contact your local building department or authority to inquire about retroactive permits. They will guide you on the steps required.

Inspection Process: In many cases, inspectors won't require you to remove all the drywall if it's a finished area. They may inspect certain accessible areas and may ask for openings to be made for them to examine wiring and connections. If they don't see any issues, they might not require further action.

Professional Assistance: It's advisable to consult with a local building inspector or an electrician with knowledge of local regulations. They can provide guidance on your specific situation and what the inspection process may entail.

Documentation: Having documentation of the work you've done and any professional reviews can be helpful in demonstrating the quality of your renovations. This includes the electrical work reviewed by your electrician friend.

Insurance: Consider discussing your situation with your insurance provider. They may be able to guide you on how to ensure your renovations meet safety standards.

Remember that regulations can vary by location, so it's essential to check with your local authorities to understand the specific requirements and options available to you for retroactive permits and inspections.

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