In Alberta, if you're a contractor or a homeowner, and you're working on a building that the Alberta Building Code covers, you have to get a permit. This stipulation is laid out in the Safety Codes Act. So, the first thing that you get with a permit is simply permission to carry out the job. But what else do you get, and what benefits are there to obtaining the right permits?
First of all, there is the benefit of safety. The Safety Codes Act was put in place for a reason. Doing the work without a permit could lead to problems that in turn lead to injuries or death. Work that is done properly and within the bounds of the law is generally safer and more reliable.
In some cases, you also get to have your building plans examined. This can be helpful because you may be alerted to issues in advance, allowing you to make changes on paper -- rather than making more expensive changes to alter work that has been done.
You'll also get to have inspectors come and look over the project. These are certified safety codes officers, and they'll give you reports when they're done. If something needs to be altered or upgraded to match the code, they'll tell you. This saves you from having to be an expert on the codes yourself. They may also offer technical advice when needed, and they can meet with you for follow-up checks to be sure alterations are done properly.
Finally, when the job is done, they'll check it all over and give you a status report.
Not only large jobs need permits; many smaller jobs require them, as well. Be sure you know the local construction laws and get all of the paperwork done before your job begins.
Source: Alberta Municipal Affairs, "Permit Information," accessed Aug. 30, 2016