10 home improvement project tips

Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or hire a contractor, here are ten of the best tips to make your home and yard renovations safer and hassle-free.

10. Planning ahead will save you time, money and stress









Whether you are building a deck, renovating your kitchen, developing your basement or adding a backyard shed, plan ahead. Take the time to map out your project and don’t forget about research. You can start by going to We offer general and expert advice. Or try The City’s live chat feature.

9. Know the rules and regulations and how they may impact your project

If you are like most, sifting through the Land Use Bylaw, and Alberta Building Code to find out what you need to make your project safe may not be on the top of your weekend bucket list. Instead, why not visit and use The City’s live chat feature to ask City staff about the needed rules, regulations and permits necessary to make your renovation project safe for you and others. Contacting The City is easy, convenient and free.

8. Need a permit? 

Did you know that certain projects, like decks under 0.6 metres (24 inches) high, most fences and retaining walls, or a small shed (under 10 square metres or 107 square feet) do not require a City of Calgary permit. Information on what renovations do require permits is available on You can also ask The City questions through a live chat feature or call 403.268.5311.

7. Know where you can and can’t build on your property

Did you hear about the guy who built his garage two feet over his property line only to have to demolish and rebuild again? With a bit of research and planning this guy won’t be you. Refer to your real property report to see if you have any rights-of-way or overland drainage that you can't build on and check out myhome for where your project can be located. Knowing where you can and cannot build will save you time, money and stress.

6. Is your contractor licenced and bonded? 

Choosing the right contractor is an important step when renovating your property. Protect yourself and your home by making sure the contractor you hire meets requirements set by The City, such as having a business license. To get a business license contractors much get a police check. Also, consider getting a reference, or asking people you know for a referral. You can also look at who has done work in your neighbourhood or look online for reviews. If your contractor is asking you to pay a portion of the total cost up front, check to make sure they are bonded. Bonded contractors have a Pre-paid Contractor Licence through Service Alberta. You will see this listed on their City of Calgary business licence. Finally, get your contract in writing. The contract should indicate who is responsible for the permit, a schedule, budget, Business Licence number, plans or specifications, warranty information, and liability insurance. You can find more information on choosing and hiring contractors at

5. A safe construction site takes planning

Part of the any renovation projects should include developing a site-specific safety plan. Plan out what safety measures are needed to prevent accidents, protect your family and mitigate hazards. This may include fencing the site off if your work is being done outside or making sure Alberta One-Call has been contacted to mark utilities before starting any excavation.

4. When to do-it-yourself and don’t-do-it-yourself

There are certain tasks such as electrical work that can be done on your own if you have the skills, but other tasks that cannot be completed by Do-it-Yourselfers. Permits for gas or mechanical (HVAC) work can only be taken out by a qualified, licenced contractor. Find out more here.

3. Is it decorative or structural – it matters







It is important to determine whether there will be structural changes to your home as part of the renovations. For a renovation in your home, minor cosmetic upgrades (such as replacing flooring, putting in new kitchen cupboards, tiling, or painting) typically will not need a permit. Major upgrades likely will. Not sure what your project qualifies as? Ask us!

2. Read your permit conditions

Permit applications are issued with conditions to make you aware of possible concerns or things to be aware of that were identified during the plan examination. Read and react to issues noted on inspection reports to avoid delays in your construction project

1. Get expert advice

Your neighbours, friends, parents, or coworkers may have completed a project similar to what you want to do, but just because it’s done doesn’t mean it’s correct, safe, or City approved. They may have gotten a permit for work under a regulation that has since changed, their house may be zoned differently than yours, or they may not have gotten a permit at all.

Let The City be your expert. City staff are available to help answer your questions whether in person or online. We know the rules, regulations and are available to help with permits to make your renovation project safe and successful. Give us a call at 403.268.5311, come down and see us at the 3rd floor of the Calgary Municipal Building, or chat with us through our new online chat feature.

For more information on home renovations, please visit or attend an upcoming home improvement information session:  

  • Fri. June 7, 2:30 – 5:30 p.m.Genesis Centre (#10 – 7555 Falconridge Blvd N.E.)

  • Sat. Aug. 17, 12 – 3 p.m.Cardel Rec South (#100 – 333 Shawville Blvd S.E.)

  • Sat. Oct. 5, 12 – 3 p.m.Calgary Central Library (800 3 St. S.E.)