Start planning now

Too cold outside? Get planning. Postmedia Network

So, what’s a homeowner to do over the course of the next few, cold winter weekends, where stepping outside, let alone participating in some god forbidden, snowshoe or cross-country skiing type activity, would just be too damned unpleasant an experience?

Well, find a sheet of graph paper, ruler, pencil and an eraser, then pour yourself a hot cup of cocoa, and get to work on a plan. What are we planning? Doesn’t really matter. Your home is most probably in need of some type of improvement or modification, so your plan could involve pretty much anything.

The thing is, home renovations can fail, or be a disappointing experience for the homeowner, due to any number of reasons. However, 99 per cent of the time, a lousy ending is the direct result of poor planning. So, if that spring or summer home addition, garage, deck, or fence project is going to roll along smoothly with as few hitches as possible, the time to start planning is while the snow is still on the ground.

Why so soon? Because things take time, mostly due to the human factor. Humans are flawed, in case you didn’t know. So, considering the fact a human will be designing, collecting the material, then building this contraption, with no other superior being or alien form available to review this process, the possibility of error is as certain as Ottawa’s Dion Phaneuf coughing up the puck in his defensive zone.

So, we start early, taking whatever time is required in order to get this project right. Once you’ve made a sketch of what you plan on building, the next step is crucial, and will inevitably be the make or break part of this project. Best case scenario would have you setting up a meeting with your preferred licensed contractor or carpenter, whereby you would place your sketches, pictures, and drawings in their capable hands, further discuss the build, then let him or her carry the load from this point on.

A poor decision would be to fold this paper up, toss it into the to-do drawer, and take it out sometime next spring, with the full intention of building this yourself, without a permit. The DIY (do it yourself) culture gained prominence in the 1990’s, whereby every manufacturer had a user friendly, lightweight tool designed for those amateurs looking to build things themselves. Twenty five years later, we now realize that the DIY phenomena should have been more appropriately promoted as the SIUY (screw it up yourself) initiative, since many a home brew project led to poor, costly results that inevitably had to be re-constructed.

Many of us homeowners are handy, which is the consolation of course to not being so handsome. Regardless, being handy is a good thing when it comes to repairing a crack in the drywall, painting touch ups, or assembling a few storage shelves in the basement, but when it comes to building something that’ll be attached to your home, the expertise that a professional will bring to your future porch, or backyard deck, will be the real key to your success.

Building projects require permits. In most cases, the permit will require the contractor having to submit engineered stamped drawings relating to the construction, and a possible site plan detailing any surrounding buildings or laneways. Formulating these drawings, along with changes to the plan required by law, or by the homeowner, since people do change their minds on occasion, can all delay the eventual granting of a permit. These delays are tedious for a contractor, but will be exhausting and demoralizing for the uninitiated homeowner. My advice, let the contractor handle the permit process, it’s ‘save your sanity’ money well spent.

All this to say, some things take time, with the building permit process definitely being one of these things. So, save yourself some grief, and start planning your spring renovation project today, because delays will happen.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

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