Construction without Permits
See how to report unpermitted and illegal construction happening in your neighbourhood.
How to Report Unpermitted and Illegal Construction
To report construction you suspect has been done without building permits, email email@example.com, call 604-591-4370 or use our online service.
Please note that anonymous complaints will not be accepted.
Unauthorized Secondary Suites
Complaints regarding unauthorized secondary suites, not currently under construction, can be made through the Secondary Suite Program & Fee Information page.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is considered illegal construction?
All construction undertaken without the required permits is fundamentally illegal.
In some cases, the structure or renovation would never meet current City bylaws or BC Building Code requirements or be eligible for a building permit and as such would need to be removed. In other cases, the structure or renovation could have met all bylaws and Building Code requirements if a permit had been issued but since it was constructed without a permit and associated inspections, now significant steps are required to ultimately legalize it.
Why do I need a permit?
Permits are required under Municipal bylaws and Provincial Legislation (BC Building Code) and help ensure that construction and major renovations comply with City bylaws, the Building Code and health and safety standards. Permits must be issued before any site work begins. Visit Residential Building Permits for more information.
What should I do if I learn a property I purchased has unpermitted construction?
When buying a property, it’s important to be aware of any unpermitted work as you will take responsibility for it as new owner. Should you become aware of potential unpermitted construction on your property, the best thing to do is to hire qualified professionals (architects, engineering, contractors) who will inspect the property and help you apply for the appropriate permits to address existing issues.
It’s important to note that unpermitted work is generally not covered by home insurance and may compromise coverage for the remainder of property as well as impact mortgage and other loan agreements. For more information, visit BC Real Estate Association.
If I previously failed to take out a permit and want to now legalize the construction, will there be a fine or other consequence?
If the unpermitted works can ultimately be supported in accordance with applicable bylaws and Building Code requirements, permit fees will be charged in accordance with City bylaw. Reports from Qualified Professionals and Inspections will be required to ultimately accept, or legalize, the construction.
What are the fines if I get caught for unpermitted/illegal construction?
Fines can range from $500-$1000 for various infractions such as ignoring a Stop Work Order, removing a posted Stop Work Order, preventing an inspection, construction without a permit, or occupancy without a permit.
Fines can also be issued daily for the same offence and can add up quickly. Some fees may be collected on property taxes if not paid at time of issuance. If issues are not be addressed risk Court Orders with associated legal fees may also be imposed. Ultimately the cost of remediation (removal and/or restoration) must also be paid.