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: https://legacy.winnipeg.ca/ppd/permits.stm
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. https://ppdportal.winnipeg.ca/Permits/PropertyPermitSearch/Start.jsp
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!
Tel: (204) 960-8851