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Planning, Property & Development

Permit Amnesty Program

This program helps homeowners bring previously started or completed home renovation projects into compliance, to ensure your home meets building codes and standards. Please note the program does not allow starting or completing new projects without appropriate permits, as this can add significant time and costs to a project, and additional fees may apply.

Program Overview

Effective June 1, 2021, the Permit Amnesty Program encourages homeowners who have done renovations or upgrades to their primary residence without permits, to apply for their permits, and have their work inspected and approved as compliant with applicable codes, by-laws, and safety standards. Post-construction permit fee(s), normally applied to permits where work has been done, will be waived upon payment of applicable permit fees.

Homeowners opting into the amnesty program must ensure that work is completed and inspected by City staff within a three-year time frame. Homeowners who receive a notice or order for work done without permits as a result of an investigation by City employees will not be eligible for the amnesty program.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How long will the Permit Amnesty program be available?
For one year: from June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.
What if I have done projects without permits, and don't declare them or apply for permits?
The City can issue notices or orders and penalties (fines) for work done without appropriate permits.
Are rental properties eligible for waiving of post-construction permit fees under this program?
No, the program is only available for a homeowner's primary residence.
I recently purchased my home. How do I find out if permits were taken out by the previous homeowners?
Homeowners can search for prior permits using the permit search by address database.
Am I responsible for work done without permits by previous owners of my home?
Yes, if work was done by previous owners of the home, subsequent owners are responsible for bringing home renovation/upgrade projects up to standards, through appropriate permits and inspections.
How will I know what permits I need?
Building permits are required for renovations, additions, and construction of previously undeveloped space (ex.: basement or attic), and accessory structures (ex.: decks, pools, spas, detached garages, and other structures over 10 m2/108 sq. ft.). Electrical and plumbing permits are required when systems have been upgraded or changed. View more information about residential permit requirements.

Please note that the City may request a current Building Location Certificate sealed by a registered land surveyor for exterior accessory structures to verify compliance with zoning by-laws, and that additional approvals (ex. a Zoning Variance for an accessory structure that does not meet size and/or yard setback requirements) may be required as a result of your permit application.
Do I have to complete the work being done under permit within the amnesty period?
No, building and trade permits are valid for three years. Necessary inspections need to be conducted within that time frame in order to complete the permit process, and close the permit.
Can I request an inspection by City staff to determine if any prior work has been done without permits?
No, homeowners are responsible for determining if prior work was done, through consultation with appropriate contractors and/or design professionals. Once you have obtained your permits and have had your first City inspection, the inspector will work with your contractor to confirm work that needs to be rectified, and provide options for the contractor to verify corrections through a signed declaration, virtual inspection, or onsite re-inspection. Homeowners can also search for prior permits using the permit search by address database.
How much do permits cost?
It depends on the project. Permit costs can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project. Refer to the Planning, Development, and Building Fees and Charges schedule for more information.
Can I opt out of the program, if I change my mind, or find that too much work has to be re-done?
No, once you've declared your work, and applied for permits, the City has an obligation to follow up and inspect the work done, to ensure compliance with applicable codes and by-laws.
Are homeowners allowed to do their own construction and plumbing or electrical work at their primary residence?
Yes, if they are knowledgeable in the applicable codes and requirements. However, this would require opening of wall finishes so the inspector can see how the work was done to ensure it meets code. Alternatively, licensed contractors can obtain the plumbing or electrical permit and choose to certify the work that the City cannot see. Opening of walls would be at the contractors' discretion in these cases.
Will I be required to bring the project up to current codes?
Yes, you must meet all current codes to ensure safety of the project. A licenced contractor or reputable builder can assist with assessing previous work done in a home and bring it up to meet all current codes.
If I need help with a project, can the City recommend reputable contractors?
The City cannot recommend contractors, but we do license electrical and plumbing contractors who meet the City's requirements for licensing.

View a list of licenced electrical contractors.
View a list of licenced plumbing contractors.

It is recommended that homeowners also look at other sources of consumer protection information, such as participation in the Better Business Bureau, how long the company has been in business, and reviews or recommendations from trusted sources.
Can my plumber or electrician assist with confirming that work was done to code?
Yes, licenced plumbing or electrical contractors can submit a "Post-construction Certification" form declaring compliance with applicable codes and standards. A City inspection will still be required to verify the work done, and close the permit.
What happens if I don't complete my project, or don't comply with requirements?
Non-compliance fees may be added to the permit costs if a project is not completed and an extension is not requested, or for failing to comply with any requirements ordered by a City inspector.
How do I start the permit process under the amnesty period?
Please use the standard permit application process. Whether applying by email or through Permits Online, include the word 'amnesty' in the description of work on your permit application.
What if there were structural alterations done by a previous owner (rooms added, walls removed, etc.)?
Any work involving structural alterations will require engineer approval and drawings. The drawings must be "as-built" showing that the alteration meets code in its current state or what alterations are required to achieve code compliance. The engineer must also certify the work and state that they have viewed the work and it complies with the approved plans. If this doesn't occur, the structural work will need to be uncovered for a City inspection.
While onsite, will inspectors be looking for other work done without permits?
City inspectors are obligated to report any safety concerns or hazards that might be present during an inspection (unapproved additions or accessory structures, etc.).
How do I schedule an inspection?
You can schedule an inspection by completing the Housing Inspection Request Form or by calling 204-986-5300.
What if I have more questions?
Email or call Permits Direct line at 204-986-5140.
Last update: July 29, 2021

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