Do I need a permit to renovate my kitchen in Toronto

You want to renovate your kitchen, and you’re all set to go. But you’re stumped. Does your kitchen renovation require a permit?

Answering this incorrectly can lead to fines, having to redo the renovation work, and even trouble reselling your home in the future.

This is why researching before you start is essential. In this article, I will share which types of kitchen renovations need permits and answer once and for all: “Do I need a permit to renovate my kitchen in Toronto?”

Let’s start.

Key Takeaways

  • You need a permit if you are changing the structure of your kitchen, like moving a sink
  • You do not need a permit if you are not changing the structure, like adding a skylight

Do I Need a Permit to Renovate My Kitchen in Toronto

Yes. More often than not, you will need a permit to renovate your kitchen. Kitchen renovations in Brampton and the GTA, if done in full, usually involve structural work and re-running the electrical lines and plumbing. If you want to create more natural light with the addition of new windows, a permit is needed.

But why does a door replacement not require a permit, while a new door needs one?

This has everything to do with a home’s floor plans and compliance with the Building Code.

In October 2023, over $7,000,000 was spent on building permits for residential homes alone (1). This is a necessary part of renovation with clear guidelines on what does and doesn’t need a permit, which you can read more about on Toronto’s government website.

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How do I Tell If I Need a Permit?

There’s an easy way to tell if you need a permit. As a general rule of thumb, if any structural changes are done, you will need a permit. If you’re making any changes or alterations to the floor plan, more likely than not, you will need a permit.

This is because alterations, like knocking down a wall and changing the floor layout, need to be up to the building code. These significant changes must be made safely, especially if you’re knocking down a load-bearing wall. Alterations must ensure that they will stand the test of time and serve your home well. 

“Permits are like fail-safes that help to avoid crises down the road. Applying for the right permits is essential to verify that the renovation was done correctly, which is a big factor when it comes to selling your home,” stated Nafeesah Allen, a Real Estate Writer of Better Homes & Gardens.

What are some Examples of Renovations that Require a Permit?

Some examples of Renovations that Require a Permit are included below.

  • Making a structural or material alteration.
  • Demolishing or removing a wall.
Added window in a permitted kitchen renovation

Added window in a permitted kitchen renovation

Making a Structural or Material Alteration

A structural alteration could be as simple as adding new windows or doorways to your kitchen. A material alteration would be changing the location of your sink, which would also require an update on the plumbing.

If I’m doing a project for a client, and they ask for a custom package, I know I’ll be applying for a permit for them, as a custom package will likely involve changes to the floor plan.

Demolition or Removing a Wall

Demolition or wall removal is where you want to change the structural layout entirely. You have to be careful with demolition as you could be knocking down load-bearing walls. This intensive alteration requires a permit to ensure your home keeps its integrity even with floor plan changes going on. 

What are some Examples of Renovations that do Not Require a Permit?

Some examples of renovations that do not require a permit are listed below.

  • Installing a skylight
  • Replacing windows or doors
  • Replacing plumbing

Installing a Skylight

Installing a skylight to bring more natural sunlight to your kitchen is an excellent modification that doesn’t require a permit. This is because standard skylights fit within the trusses of the roof and do not change the structural shape of your home.

Pro Tip: If you want a custom-fit skylight that is wider than the trusses, then the skylight would fall under a structural change and would then require a permit.

Replacing Windows or Doors 

Replacing windows or doors can enhance the atmosphere of your kitchen and does not require a permit. This is because the window or door is being replaced within an existing structure. No changes to the structure surrounding the window or door are being made, so this is a renovation that doesn’t need a permit.

Replaced the window in the newly renovated kitchen space

Replaced the window in the newly renovated kitchen space

I sometimes have clients ask if installing a custom door requires a permit. I always tell them it doesn’t matter how fancy the door is, as long as the structure isn’t changing, like if we’re widening the doorframe or not, a permit isn’t needed.

Replacing Plumbing

Replacing the plumbing is another excellent example of where a permit isn’t needed. This is because no structural changes are being made. You’re not picking up the sink and moving it, which would require an overhaul of the plumbing. As long as the plumbing stays stationary with parts being replaced, it doesn’t need a permit.

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Complete Breakdown of Renovations that Do and Do Not Need a Permit

Here’s a table listing some of the most common kitchen renovations in Mississauga and the surrounding GTA, and whether or not the renovation needs a permit.

Kitchen RenovationIs a Permit Required?
Replacing doors or windowsNo
Adding new windows or doorsYes
Structural alterationsYes
Replacing plumbingNo
Plumbing alterationsYes
Skylight installationNo
Material alterationsYes
DemolitionYes

What happens if you build without a permit in Toronto?

A lot of things could happen if you build without a permit, including the possibility of being fined. Here’s a list of possible consequences of building without a permit:

  • Being fined.
  • A delay in the work.
  • Having to redo the work.
  • Having unexpected costs due to additional changes made to be compliant.
  • Possible legal issues when trying to resell your home.
Did you remodel without permits?

Being Fined

A “work without permit” fee will need to be paid if work is done without a permit. This is calculated to be a 50% charge of whatever your original permit fee was. Your penalty fee could end up being anywhere between $198.59 and $27,234.64.

Pro Tip: Always have an expert contractor help you with your renovations. They will know what permits you need and help you avoid incurring charges like this.

A Delay in the Work

You may experience a delay in progress as there will be a demand from the building inspector’s office that all work stop while the request for a permit is processed. This can affect timeliness and cause clashes with contractor and subcontractor schedules.

Redoing the Renovation

In worst-case scenarios, if work has happened that isn’t up to building code, it has to be undone and then redone. This can cause further delays and lengthen the duration of your kitchen renovation project in Toronto.

Unexpected Costs

There can be unexpected costs incurred after applying for a permit when work has already happened. This typically comes in the form of having the inspector detail out new changes to the design plans to make the renovations up to the building code. This can eat into the budget, as these kitchen renovation costs in Toronto weren’t initially factored in or prepared for.

Legal Issues

There can be legal and financial impacts on your home down the road after doing work without a permit. This can come in the form of having complications reselling it or paying a premium when taking out insurance.

Does My Responsibility End After I Get a Permit?

No, your responsibility doesn’t end after you get a permit to renovate a kitchen in Ontario. You must also follow up with scheduling inspections at key points throughout the renovation and double-check that your permit is closed after the final inspection.

When I take on a project from a client, I organize everything so they don’t have to lift a finger. This includes having the building inspector come out during the renovation at scheduled times, along with the final inspection. 

Will My Contractor Take Care of my Permit Application?

Yes, most contractors, like Renowell, will take care of your permit to renovate a kitchen in Ontario. A contractor is well-versed in navigating the sometimes convoluted bureaucracy of submitting permits.

The kitchen renovation with permit submission

The kitchen renovation project with permit submission

A contractor can take the pressure off you and your renovation by ensuring the design plans are already up to the building code. They can submit all the necessary documents to ensure a smooth and clean permit approval. They can also schedule the inspections at the correct times to ensure the renovation stays up to the building code.

“Having the skills to draw plans, an architect can also suggest innovative ways to utilize the space. They may even surprise you with designs you would have never anticipated,” explained Sarah Warwick, an Editor of Homes and Gardens.

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My Experience with Needing Permits to Renovate

In my experience, the more thorough design plans I have, the easier it is to prepare for submitting and approving a permit. This is why I work with my clients to the detail, listening to everything they have to say regarding their ideas for the renovation. For example, if I hear they want more windows, I’ll make a note of that and have an idea of the permit I’ll be needing.

Ineffective Methods of Figuring Out If You Need a Permit or Not

There are a few ineffective methods of figuring out if you need a permit or not, which are included below.

  • Looking at the size of the project instead of the renovation itself.
  • Not consulting with a contractor.
  • Not consulting with the local building office.
  • Skipping the permit process altogether.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a building permit in Toronto?

A kitchen renovation can take up to 10 days to get a building permit approved. It can take longer if there are any alterations needed.

How much does a permit for a kitchen remodel cost?

A minimum fee of $198.59 is required for a kitchen remodel permit, with additional charges for dollars per square foot of the proposed floor to be renovated.

Conclusion

To understand “Do I need a permit to renovate my kitchen in Toronto?” correctly, it’s essential to research how the permit system works. By knowing which renovations require a permit, like moving a sink or adding a window or door, you can more easily navigate getting a permit for your kitchen renovation. If you’re hiring a contractor, they will likely help you with this portion of the renovation.

What are your thoughts on needing a permit to renovate your kitchen? Let us know in the comments below!

Additional References:

  1. Statistics Canada (2023.) Building permits, by type of structure and type of work. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=3410006601 
  2. City of Toronto (2023.) When Do I Need a Building Permit? Retrieved from: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/building-construction/apply-for-a-building-permit/when-do-i-need-a-building-permit/