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July 31, 2012

The Real-Life Consequences of Building Without a Permit

Just over a year ago on this blog, we discussed the importance of obtaining the necessary building permits when doing renovations on your home. At Monarch Kitchen & Bath Centre, we don't begin any renovation project without obtaining the required building permits first.

The City of Pickering's planning and development department describes a building permit as "your formal permission to begin construction or demolition."

A building
permit from the City of Pickering ensures it has approved plans for any new structure, addition or renovation. Most importantly, all approved plans must comply with the Ontario Building Code, local zoning bylaws and other applicable laws and regulations.

"I can’t emphasize enough the importance of permits and inspections,” explained Monarch president Neil Samson in last year's blog post. “This is your guarantee that work will be done according to Ontario Building Code standards and your home will be returned to you in a safe and secure manner."

While obtaining a building permit from the city or town you live in may seem like a nuisance, it ensures your project is completed according to code and will often save you time and money later on. Although obtaining the necessary building permits before commencing a renovation is a Monarch Kitchen & Bath Centre policy, it is not the policy of many contractors and is a detail often left to the discretion of the homeowner.

In the recent case of a Toronto elderly couple, this "detail" may result in the demolition of their $80,000 addition.

A recent article on explains: "After a six-year battle that included appeals to the courts, the Ontario Municipal Board and even the United Nations, an elderly Brunswick Ave. couple will probably now be forced to demolish a two-storey addition built without a permit."

Councillor Adam Vaughan, who joined a group of local residents in opposition to the addition, balked at the couple's plea that their fight to keep the addition was a human rights issue and discriminated against the disabled. "It's a planning issue. The addition was too big, and it was built without permission. It's unfortunate. But the lesson here is a very clear one: Do not build without permission because there are consequences. And the consequences become very expensive if you choose to fight rather than cooperate."

Sadly for the Tseng family, who have spent over $200,000 in legal and professional fees trying to keep the addition, this lesson comes a few years too late. (To read the entire article on, click here.)

For a full list of projects you need a building permit for in the City of Pickering, click here. If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, click here for more information on obtaining a building permit for your renovation.

Planning a kitchen or bath renovation? Drop by our Pickering showroom today or call our design team at 905-686-2001.