Who's responsible for legal basement drawings in Mississauga?

Question Icon
Posted by: from Mississauga
1/4/2015 at 5:58:56 PM

I hired a Contractor which supposedly provides plans to get a building permit to the City of Mississauga. They already provided some drawings, but they have to be revised to suit OBC (Ontario Building Code) as per City's responses, such as egress window size, fire separations. But the Contractor was not responsible. Instead they referred me to a drafter who may help revise the drawings (he is not architect).

I argued that this is their responsibility until the permit is issued, but they argued, the down payment I paid is just enough to pay the initial drawings. Now I am stuck with the building permit not issued by the City, unless I resubmit revised drawings.

My basement is finished, but I want to make it a legal basement apartment. What can I do?

User Icon
Date/Time1/4/2015 at 7:31:55 PM

Whenever changes are made, it is usually the client who is involved because the client has to "okay" the changes. The contractor usually provides the basic drawing, if the client hasn't already purchased them from another source, and they should include items that meet code.

We went through a similar situation where elevations and soil conditions were a factor and the responsibility fell back on the client to obtain an engineers report as well and a revised permit application.

Unless it is written in your contract that the contractor is responsible for any changes made to the original drawing, I'm afraid the cost and responsibility falls back on you, the client.

User Icon
Date/Time1/4/2015 at 8:42:42 PM

Sorry for the late advice, but:

Did you contract to have the contractor provide you a building permit?

If not, you should have. Then it is his responsibility to abide by the building code. All design professionals work this way.

Who did the work to your basement?

If the firm doing the work were also professionals, they have a responsibility to meet Building Code and handle the inspections for you. Inspectors job to make sure the work performed is up to code.

If you did the work, you are now paying the full value of the work.

Best to hire professionals to avoid these troubles.

User Icon
Mark from CMJ Renovations in Oakville
Date/Time1/4/2015 at 9:00:34 PM

I may have missed a step here, but the basement can't be built as you don't have a permit issued by the city. If you don't have a building permit as well as an electrical permit you technically don't have a legal basement and if you have any electrical issues you also have no home insurance. Ask the builder to see the city sign of sheet.

User Icon
Date/Time1/5/2015 at 12:07:41 PM

Hi Chris,

Sorry to say but based on the situation I feel like Its putting cart before the horse. You have finished the basement and now going for permit?

The very first thing before you start the work - either you OR your contractor would have asked one Q - do you want to build a legal basement OR just finish it for your own use? Are you going to put a kitchen, a wash room and a sleeping unit? Are you going to rent it out as a second income?

If so then you definitely have to have ALL necessary permits - City, includes plumbing and HVAC drawings also Electrical permit etc. for that you need a person who is qualified to draw and stamp the drawings.

Some city ask for full house drawings including HVAC calculations Now if you don't have the drawings then the Architect / BCIN number holder has to measure existing house and draw complete with proposed basement plan. This would approximately cost in price range from 2500 to 4500 $ depending on the house, complexity, year build etc.

That would cover all the problems like Height restrictions, windows for means of Egress, Fire separation, Door requirements, etc. and also if it can not be legalised to build then City will suggest what it would take to make it workable or not.

In your case that would have been the best approach.

Its useless to cry over split milk. So now what?

I could see two things:

1. Silence is golden and learned from the mistake, move on and can use it for your self, if renting then have to be very careful. (Its not a legal unit and could be in trouble)

2. Check with your contractor has he build as per code requirement? (even though it was not drawn, not applied for city permit etc.) Ask city if you have necessary documented the construction and if the inspector will believe and approve ( which I doubt they will).

Short cuts are always harmful.

User Icon
Chris in Mississauga
Date/Time1/5/2015 at 9:28:23 PM

Thank you for all responses.

The basement was finished when I bought it. But since City has new rule to allow for legal second unit, I hired the contractor to comply up to the code.

User Icon
Date/Time1/5/2015 at 10:10:22 PM

This is a very common problem among home owners trying to build a legal unit. When we contract second suites we always include the entire permit application process including revisions. The lack of detail in the agreement could cause more problems than simply the application process. It's important to get a proper scope of work and detailed estimate before moving forward with such a project. You may have been fortunate to have this discrepancy this early in the process.

Most second suites require elevation drawings as well as a copy of the survey (three copies of the drawings). In addition, some municipalities request that the driveway outlines as well as the mechanical (Heating and Cooling) drawn for the main floor (ceiling of the basement).

When retrofitting an existing unit I advise you read the link below.

Converting an existing unit could get very detailed. Most importantly the fire separation is looked at closely. The requirements for Egress and light for the bedroom areas is also a priority. Make sure the furnace room has an adequate fire separation as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Warm Regards,

Guy Solomon

General Manager

Penguin Basements Ltd.

Search the TrustedPros directory and discover the best contractors in your area.

Find your home service pro
Great renovations start with a great contractor.

Since 2004, TrustedPros has been helping homeowners find the right contractor for their home improvements and repairs.

Post Your Project

Within hours you'll be comparing offers from top-rated professionals. It's free to post and you're under no obligation to hire.

Trustedpros Inc. does not warrant the accuracy, completeness, safety, legality or usefulness of any Content, or Whether Content is Current and up-to-date, and TrustedPros Inc. Shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to your use or reliance upon any content or for content being removed or otherwise ceasing to be available. Please refer to the terms and conditions of use of this websites for more details.

Get Free Estimates

Post your project and compare offers from top-rated pros.