Once upon a time there was a fellow with excellent carpentry skills who built himself a new patio and covered it with an awning structure that was attached to the house. It was admired by many, including the local building inspector, who happened to notice a change in the house’s appearance when comparing old and new aerial images. Turned out that the homeowner hadn’t applied for a building permit and he was forced by the City to remove his awning.
The moral of the story is: always check your city’s building permit requirements and if you’re not sure, ask. (You’ll find a list of links to all municipalities in the Lower Mainland here.) This applies whether you’re planning to do the work yourself or you’re hiring a contractor. The responsibility of obtaining a building permit rests with the homeowner.
Depending on your type of home insurance you’re probably covered for the property in its current condition together with the contents. However, before starting any home renovation project contact your insurance provider and tell them what you’re planning to do. Ensure that you’re covered (A) if you’re not going to be living in the property during the renovation and (B) for any damages that could occur. If you hire a general contractor ask to see a copy of the company’s General Liability Insurance Certificate and make sure they are up-to-date with their Workers Compensation insurance (WorkSafeBC in British Columbia). That way you won’t be liable for any injuries that may be sustained by the contractor’s employees.
As well once the renovation is complete let your insurance company know. An increase in the value of the property will probably require an increase in your premium, but that’s a small price to pay if something were to happen to your home.