Permits are a mandatory part of the process to obtain municipal compliance through professional inspections in order to help regulate home improvements for the purposes of safety, compliance of building code and local zoning by-laws. It gives you formal permission to build your project and protects you as the homeowner.
Building, basement development, detached garages & sheds, plumbing, gas, forced air heating & ventilation, electrical, covered & uncovered decks, additions & renovations, demolition, secondary suites, wood burning fireplaces/stoves, hot tubs & pools, fences, fire sprinklers, private sewage, geothermal heating and hydronic heating.
That being said, not every project listed above requires a permit. Before doing any work on your home, ensure you check with either a member of the Building Inspection Services or a licensed contractor.
When filing for a permit, there are fees associated with the type and cost of the work for the permit. In addition, you'll need to provide further information including (but not limited to) site plans, working drawings, legal description of property, elevations and more.
Whether you are buying or selling a home - a lack of permits could be a big problem (and expensive to remedy). When a permit has not been pulled this is considered a "material latent defect" and MUST be disclosed to potential buyers.
BEFORE you list your home, take the extra time to check with the City on your permit situation. This is also important for home buyers. There are instances when the current home owner is unaware of their permit situation or makes the assumption that permits have been pulled; this is why buyer due diligence is very important.