Do I need a permit to fix my cottage foundation?

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Yes.  A permit is required for repairing or replacing cottage foundations for buildings more than 108 sq. ft. (check for local regulations). You also need one for a height change (if it’s allowed in your area) or if the original cottage footprint is expanding.

Permits protect homeowners as well as builders; avoid any contractors who want to skip the process. A permit for basic foundation repair or replacement may cost “a few hundred dollars,” according to Andy Jones, the chief building official with the town of Gravenhurst, Ont. Permits for more complicated jobs are calculated based on the square footage of the project or as a percentage of the construction cost, plus any municipality fees. When a municipality learns you skipped the process, the fine can be double the cost of the original permit or they may take you to court, where you’ll have a fine imposed by a justice of the peace. Omitting this step can also jeopardize the sale of the property when potential buyers need confirmation that work was done to code. Asking for a permit retroactively may be possible but you might need to uncover parts of the construction in order to prove code-compliance if it’s not visible.   

This article was originally published as as part of  “Dear Cottage, Why so down in the dumps?” in the May 2021 issue of Cottage Life.

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