I recently looked at a home that is for sale mid-renovation. I don’t mind taking on having the work completed, but how do I know if what has been done is to code?

Thank you for your question. As many readers can attest, it is easy to get in over your head when taking on a home renovation. For someone like you, who is open to picking up the hammer, a partially renovated property may give you the flexibility needed to customize the space to exactly what you’d like it to be and to actually see how things have been done so far.

You are wise to have permit and code compliance top of mind. Completing a renovation without the required permits or one that fails to meet municipal by-laws or provincial building, electrical and fire codes can result in unanticipated expenses to cover the cost of bringing a property to code. In extreme situations, it can require major reconfiguration or even the removal of structures and liability for provincial fines.

Taking some time to verify and validate work started or completed to date is a good approach. Not sure where to start? Speak with your salesperson, they can ask the seller to provide copies of such things as receipts, drawings, permits, municipal approvals and any inspection reports previously completed to verify that work already competed meets applicable by-laws and codes. If supporting materials are not available from the seller, your salesperson can assist by advising on where information can be sourced, and they may even be able to recommend reputable inspection services to assess the work that has already been completed.

Depending on the extent of the renovation, you may want to consider getting an architectural or engineering assessment to confirm that the integrity of the structure has not been compromised.

For homeowners thinking of completing a home renovation before listing their home for sale, enlisting the services of a registered salesperson or brokerage can be of tremendous benefit. Real estate salespeople have usually seen hundreds if not thousands of homes and layouts and know design ideas that you may not have thought of. Seeking their advice about which renovations might provide the greatest value for your resale may even contribute to your home selling faster and potentially for more money. Of course, you want to balance what you want to enjoy in your home and what might maintain good resale value.

Whichever side of the renovation equation you’re on, be sure to keep copies of all the documentation related to the work, whether completed or in-progress, doing so may save you a lot of legwork and expense during the transaction process.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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