What happens if permit inspections are not to code?

Question Icon
Posted by: from Bradford
2/18/2015 at 6:41:00 AM

We are planning to gut and redo are main bathroom. When we contacted our town they said we need a building permit for what we wanted to do.

Although most of the contractors we had come quote the job said we didn't need any permits, one of them said they would contact the town to make sure. He learned that we did need a building permit.

We have no issues getting a building permit, however the previous owner of our house was a DIYer and a lot of the work isn't to code. We plan to slowly correct this, but we can only afford to do so much at once.

What would happen (if anything) if an inspector came to see the bathroom reno and noticed some of the other parts of the house that are not to code? Can we be forced to correct it in a particular time frame? Are there any penalties/fees for not being to code?

User Icon
Brian from Next Restoration in Rockwood
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 10:17:17 AM

This would be totally up to the building inspectors discretion and how you plan on the other corrections if they find it to be acceptable.

User Icon
Patrick from War Bunnys Carpentry in Beaumont
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 11:02:25 AM

Hi good question. In my experience when ever you change plumbing and electrical. And structure/ useable floor space. You should have the correct permits in place. As for the inspectors ordering things fixed. Most generally if you can show that it's a pre purchase condition you won't be ordered to fix it unless it's a safety hazard and it this case you would want to have it fixed. All conditions that an inspector would order fixed should be in your home inspection apon purchase. If the conditions are not there then they should be minor and not worth worrying about. If it is major like faulty wiring then it should be address ASAP so it doesn't burn the house down.

Hope this helped.


User Icon
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 1:53:46 PM

The city will only inspect the work that is listed in the permit application. In our community we have to submit architectural drawings for structural changes, proposed plumbing and electrical changes as well. The inspector would then inspect the project as it proceeds. He will not be concerning himself with areas outside of the scope of work that is described in the building permit itself. As a homeowner, it is in your best interest to take advantage of the inspector's knowledge, and it would not hurt at all for you to ask for some feedback on anything that you are concerned about when he is in your home. Our inspectors are excellent at offering advice on troublesome work that had been attempted by previous owners.

Having said that, if your electrical panel is not to code (for instance), he may ask that the electrician correct it, and you may have no option, so I strongly suggest that when you are asking for estimates that you include those areas that the pros point out to you as mandatory. I personally would be leaning toward hiring the one contractor that took the time to contact the city about permit permission.

When we replaced our hot water tank, the plumber told us that we would have to upgrade our panel as the previous owner had overloaded it and it posed a potential problem. We were also able to remove a plumbing vent - both of those jobs required a permit and inspection where replacing the water tank by itself did not.

User Icon
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 3:04:36 PM

Chris & Daina,

Generally speaking the house you have would have all the items "grandfathered"which means no changes are required. Having said that, any new addition or renovation must be up to code and in some cases an existing part of the reno might be included. An example is that if a wall has to be up-graded for fire proofing but only a small section of the wall requires this for "code", the full length of that wall may also have to have the up-grade.

Best suggestion is to call an inspection company in your area and ask specific questions. This way you will know what is or isn't legal in your location.

Good luck.

User Icon
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 4:18:01 PM

Typically speaking anything in the home prior to your purchasing it would be grandfathered in so it would not be effected by the permit. However once you open up the walls you are responsible for bringing that area you are working on specifically up to today's code.

Best of luck with the work.

User Icon
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 5:22:27 PM


Anything exposed when you gut and open up the space for the bathroom renovation will have to meet code.

Now it depends on the inspector, but if they see knob and tube wiring running to the bathroom, just replacing what will be in the finished space will not be accepted by most inspectors.

What type of things are not up to code that the prior owner did?

Let me know and I will try to give you an answer relating to your home specifically.


James Fram

User Icon
Date/Time2/18/2015 at 9:42:51 PM

Chris and Diana

I cannot speak for anything other then electrical (not sure if that is what you are talking about)...

The electrical code in Ontario is not retroactive; meaning that it cannot reach backwards and force an update to something that was installed in accordance to the code in place at the time. The term we use is "existing non-conforming".

What the Electrical Inspector can do is force work to be repaired / replaced if it creates a shock and / or fire hazard. As an example, just because your house is wired in aluminum (AL) wire does not mean you have to rewire it. If AL and copper (CU) wire are used improperly together there would be an order to make a repair.

My only experience with other items (structural, plumbing, sanitary, etc) is if the issue creates an unsafe hazard and essentially you can "loose your occupancy permit"; meaning they condemn your house because it is unsafe.


John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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.

It appears you may be located in the US

TrustedPros is designed to deliver results targeted to your location.

Get Free Estimates

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