City of Winnipeg Residential Building Permits - What Buyers and Sellers Should Know

In my experience working with clients here in Winnipeg (both Buyers and Sellers), I find many people do not understand the importance of pulling permits when doing home renovations. Also, there seems to be confusion on which projects require a permit and which do not. Many people are surprised to see the extensive list of improvements that DO require you to pull a permit with the City of Winnipeg.


As a general rule if you are changing “like for like” you do not need to pull a permit.

For example, if you are replacing a window with the same size window that was there previously, changing existing light fixtures, or updating the vanity in your existing bathroom no permit is required in general. However, many updates seem to be a “simple” job but DO require a permit through the City of Winnipeg. For example, adding recessed lighting, installing an egress window, adding a bedroom in a basement, finishing a basement, or building a deck higher than 2 feet. These jobs all require a permit. The city of Winnipeg has ample information available on their website in regard to projects that require permits and which do not. See this link:


Many people are surprised the permit history for a residential property in Winnipeg is public information. Anyone can use The City of Winnipeg’s permit search tool and view a home’s permit history. This search provides a list of building and trade permits (electrical, mechanical, plumbing, construction) issued after January 1, 2000 at any specific address in Winnipeg. You can click the link below to search any address in Winnipeg to view its permit history.


Yes, this system is newer and not perfect as it only dates back as far as 2000. So, any work done prior to this time will not show up in the system. However, if planning to do any renovations today, I feel that due to this system and the accessibility of this information to the public it is more important than ever to make sure all permits are being pulled for projects that require one.


Another major misconception about permits is people assume because you hire a professional contractor to complete a project, that permits were pulled. This is not always the case! When hiring licensed trade professionals to complete any work in your home be sure to ensure permits are being pulled. I have heard many stories where a contractor has told a client a permit was not necessary when it was. My advice is to do your due diligence here, make sure to educate yourself on which permits are necessary for your home renovation project, and make sure you are pulling them!


Work done without permits- What are the risks?


If the city of Winnipeg discovers work done in a home that required a permit and didn’t have one, the homeowner will be responsible for paying a fine, as well as then having the work inspected to make sure it meets building code. The latter is often times the most expensive part. For example, if someone added a bathroom to their home without pulling a plumbing permit, in order to determine if the plumbing was up to code this may include removing drywall, tile, etc. to inspect to see if the new plumbing was done correctly and is up to code. These costs would fall on the homeowner. REGARDLESS IF IT WAS THEM OR A PREVIOUS OWNER THAT COMPLETED THE WORK.


So how does this impact buyers and sellers in a real estate transaction? 


From the Buyers perspective: 

When showing homes to buyer clients I like to ensure my client understands the risk they will be taking on if purchasing a home where required permits were not pulled. For example, if we are viewing a property where the basement was finished without permits I would make sure they understand that if the city were to find out said basement was finished without a permit they may have to pay a fine for each permit that should have been pulled on top of the added expenses to be able to prove the work was done up to code. i.e. removing drywall etc. Not to mention if the work is not code compliant the then added expense of bringing the work up to code. I ensure my buyer has all of the information needed and then they can assess if the risk is worth it. I feel the “risk level” is a case-by-case basis depending on the work that was completed. But this is something you should definitely talk to your Realtor about before writing an offer on a property so there are no surprises down the road.


From a Sellers perspective:

Let’s say that you have done renovations to your home and did not pull the permits needed for the job. When filling out the Property Disclosure Statement you will be answering a question regarding permits. Item #3 on Manitoba’s Property Disclosure statement reads:

 “Are you aware of any additions or alternations to the buildings or improvements on the property that were made while you owned the property and were made without the required building, electrical, or other permit, or without obtaining a final inspection from the regulatory authority?”


In this case, you would have to answer “yes” and describe said work.

From experience, I feel some buyers are willing to take the risk but many are not depending on the scope of the work, thus limiting your buyer pool.

Yes, you may have spent money on putting in a Chef's kitchen, but if the work was done without proper permits being pulled, no matter how beautiful that kitchen may be, knowing it was done without a permit may spook buyers as they do not want to take on the risks described above. Educated buyers ARE checking permit history before moving forward with making an offer on a home and your home will stand out if buyers see all of the upgrades were completed with correct permits.


Long story short, it will always pay off to pull all required permits necessary when completing any upgrades to your home!


Please see the link below to the City of Winnipeg permits website for further information on how to pull permits and what projects need permits pulled.

And if you plan to buy or sell a home with myself or my team, you best believe that we will be scouring the permit histories for your properties!

Top Realtor in Winnipeg talks Permits


Samantha Scribilo

Tel: (204) 960-8851


Staging Options in Winnipeg - Is it worth the money?

If you are landing here, you are likely debating whether or not staging is worth the expenditure in your situation. I am here to say, that in the majority of cases - IT IS!  A well-staged home, on average, sells for around 10% more than it's unstaged counterpart.  But more importantly, I want to tell you that:

Staging a home doesn't have to break the bank.

Staging is one of the most important tasks in preparing your home for a potential buyer.  Good staging will accomplish a few tasks:

  1. It will present a blank canvas that buyer’s can envision themselves in
  2. It will improve flow of the space and actually make the home feel bigger (think less congested)
  3. It will eliminate or reduce buyer objections
  4. It will statistically get your home sold more quickly.

I've likened it to creating a blank canvas - which is NOT to mean sterile or devoid of emotional appeal.  Instead we focus on the the importance of neutralizing a space while preserving the emotional appeal that will attract our buyer.  Blank canvas does mean a touch of minimalism and muted colors. Why, you may ask? Because the majority of potential buyers prefer not to see the current homeowner's personal life on display when considering a property for purchase. Instead, they want to envision their own life in that space. Therefore, we always recommend depersonalizing the home by packing away family photos, religious items, and the like to be taken to the seller's next residence.

Our staging techniques revolve around crafting a lifestyle that resonates with the neighborhood and the demographics of the area. We tailor our design plans accordingly, ensuring they align with the potential buyers' preferences and aspirations. Staging a home truly involves much more than merely arranging furniture. As Realtors, our ultimate objective is to diligently represent our clients' best interests, taking into account the nuances of each property and its potential buyers. 

There are a variety of options when it comes to staging:

  • Full home stage
  • Accessory stage
  • Rework stage
  • Virtual stage

All of our listings begin with sending a stager in to assemble a plan for the property.  As your agent, we will have likely determined just which stage would be best for your property and given instruction as to goals with the stager.  During this staging appointment, the stager will then go with you room-by-room and give her recommendations.  There is a written plan to follow, so don't worry too much about taking notes! She will also talk to you (if we haven't already) about projects around the house that can minimize buyer objections – for example touch-up painting, etc.  The idea is to have the canvas ready when furniture starts to be brought in.

Full Home Stage

Let’s start with what is involved in a full home stage.  This is usually staging a home from a vacant position or nearly vacant position.  The stager will be bringing in a full suite to dress up your house including Living Room furniture and accessories, dining room, bedroom, etc.  You name it, they do it.  The process itself can be incredibly quick. They show up with their movers on staging day and unload a truck and have the entire place staged in a matter of hours.  Oftentimes, this does also involve some hanging of art, etc.  One of my favourite tasks that stagers do is bringing in mirrors to reflect natural light coming in. A strategically-placed mirror can brighten up spaces and make rooms feel larger. Here are some homes we have fully-staged recently:

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Linden Woods Realtors staging in winnipeg manitoba

There are a few different homes used above ranging across various price-points. All of these homes were staged in under 5 hours with the assistance of a full team of movers, stagers, stager assistants, and or course - the Realtor.

This staging is best utilized when a home is mostly vacant or next to vacant and needs a lot of help in demonstrating just how to use the various spaces. Bonus rooms are great, but if a Buyer can't see a vision for how to use it, it can feel like "too much house" or "wasted space".


The cost for a stage such as this is typically around $2500 and upwards (depends on the size of the home and how much furniture is required) for the first month, should the seller wish to pay out of pocket. Then, there is a monthly ongoing fee for rental (around half of the initial "installation" amount). Usually, I will take on the expense of this and wrap it into commissions, should the Seller not be comfortable with a huge cash outlay. 

I am happy to take on that risk, I believe in staging that much!

We will discuss these options with you, and let you decide what is right for you.  Sometimes, staging isn't right for your situation.  In all honesty, maximizing dollar return, while often the most common goal, doesn't ALWAYS have to be the end-goal. And that's okay, too! 

A recent case study: In the case of the home pictured above with the blue furniture, this owner had three opinions of value given. Myself and two others. The two other Realtors suggested selling the home in as-is condition without paint touch-ups, a few minor updates (upgrading a few light fixtures, flooring repair, deep clean, etc). Weekend-warrior type items, really. I suggested the opposite, to tackle these projects as there was a substantial dollar return to doing so. I accepted wrapping the fee of the proper home prep (staging, minor painting, deep cleaning) into the commissions, at a cost of $5000. The Seller informed me upon sale, that we had gotten him $25,000 more than the other two Realtors had quoted him as his "max" selling price. A worthy investment, if you ask me!

Accessory Stage

The next option is an accessory stage.  This is a more commonly-used option, I find. Most sellers already have furniture that suits their home, and sometimes it just needs help in a few key other areas.  For this type of stage, our stager comes through and makes a list with the seller, of items that need to be brought in.  Sometimes the seller might already have the items the stager needs elsewhere in the home and we simply move things around.  Other times however, a second visit is scheduled and the stager brings in the missing pieces.  Sometimes this can be art, sometimes it means bedding, towels, throw-pieces, smaller chairs, etc.  This does not involve hiring movers and is much less costly as a result.  Usually, we are paying less than $500 for these accessory-type stages and are already including it in our commisison.  Below is a recent accessory stage we did for a client.  He was downsizing (in his 90's), and keeping some of his "favourite" pieces - this couch included. Here, we brought in pieces to accent and modernize the home.

best realtors staging winnipeg

This home had a bidding war, despite selling in December right before Christmas, and in a declining market (and no, we weren't underpriced). Well worth the investment!

Virtual Staging

Another option for a vacant listing stage is virtual staging.  I’ll include some before and after pictures so that you can see what I’m referring to.  In essence, no staging is physically done within the property.  We are paying a graphic designer to take the pictures of vacant rooms and doing an overlay with furniture to show size and scale.  Some before and afters:

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The bedroom picture above was a condominium we sold in Tuxedo. The condominium was next to vacant with the exception of a couple of lights in the bedroom to brighten things up.  We had the photos virtually staged and we put the listing up for a few days prior to allowing showings to begin.  Day one had several showings that resulted in two offers.  Competing offers on a condominium in Winnipeg are NOT common.  The owner was thrilled with the results!

This is most appropriate when timelines are tighter, or when the budget doesn’t allow for a full physical stage – because the pictures can be edited for as little as $20 USD per picture.  The impact is pretty significant though.  I would say the majority of listings that we have with virtually staged pictures, have much higher-than-average traffic visiting them. The process itself is quite simple – we take the images from our photographer, send them off to our graphic designer that does our virtual staging.  We usually get them back within 48 hours from the time the pictures are originally taken. Now just a couple notes for this- you need good pictures to work from.  Professional quality, ideally.  I’ve seen virtual staging on bad pictures and it just looks awful.  Secondly, not all virtual stagers are created equal.  I’ve seen some very poorly done examples on even good quality photos. Thirdly - you should denote in your listing that some images are virtually staged, so Buyers aren't shocked when they show up! We have found using a blend of virtually staged combined with unstaged images to have the best result. And last but not least, we do not have the technology YET to virtually stage a video - but that will hopefully change soon!

In Conclusion...

There are a variety of staging options when selling.  However, the type of staging that we will recommend will be specific for your house, situation and timeline.  Always seek advice from your Realtor on just what needs to be done to show your home in its best light. But what I do want you to take away from this, is that homes really do benefit from staging in some regard. In a recent study done by the National Association of Realtors, 96% of buyers agents agree that home staging has an effect on how buyers view homes. Further, when it comes to your bottom line, a staged home will typically sell more.  So quite frankly – if you aren’t properly staging your home – you are likely leaving money on the table!

More on that study, here:,statistics%20may%20change%20some%20minds.

best real estate agent in winnipeg MB#AgentJen

Jennifer Queen

Phone: (204) 797-7945

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