Important Building Permit Information *updated*

2021 update for Building Permit questions

A question we are asked regularly is “Do I need a building permit?”

Unfortunately, there is not a simple answer.

There is a wide range of interpretation of the rules, and there is seldom a month that goes by that we do not hear a new twist. This goes beyond the fact that certain areas get more snow and wind than others and therefore require sturdier buildings.

Please review this article fully since your proper understanding of the situation will determine how you approach the situation and often determines the outcome.  We are only offering information from our experience and do not guarantee any outcomes.

This type of building is not something which building officials deal with regularly and you do not want their confusion to become your problem and expense if you can help it.

Types of Building Classifications

MSS buildings are considered low human occupancy, temporary buildings. Most of our
buildings go on agricultural land, but it is important to realize that the type of zoned land your building is going on makes a big difference.

The designation of “temporary” is what often determines if a permit is required. There is a wide variation in what constitutes “temporary”. It is important that you clarify and understand the ruling for your municipality. In some municipalities, if there is anything into the ground, it is no longer temporary. This has lead to people building on the big concrete blocks. In other municipalities, any use of concrete nullifies the classification of temporary. One of the reasons, many of our buildings sit on a base beam with t-post anchors is that it reinforces the idea of temporary.

There is also a significant variation on the threshold size of the building. In some jurisdictions, anything over 100 square feet, regardless of zoning, requires a permit. In other areas, anything under 40 square meters (approx. 640 sqft.) is a tent, as long as it meets the definition of “temporary” and does not need a permit.

Weather Dynamics

Our focus will continue to be on getting an understanding of what it is that you are dealing with so that we can put together a structure package that will serve your needs for years to come.

Educating our customers on weather dynamics on these buildings continues to be a valuable component of that process. Snow load is usually the point that comes up first but an equally important consideration is wind load. We want “temporary” to mean that the building can easily be relocated and not that it can easily blow away.

Many of our customers, who are putting their new building out of sight and they get along with their neighbours, will put up the building without asking questions. This is certainly not a practice we recommend or encourage but acknowledge as a reaction to officials who do not understand these buildings or how they work. We are available to offer an explanation, either verbally or written, upon request. Please be aware that our conversation with your building official does not automatically ensure a favourable outcome.

Engineered Drawings & Getting a Permit

To get a permit, you will need drawings with an engineer’s stamp. We have a generic set of engineer approved drawings for a number of our structure sizes. These are available upon request, at no extra charge for you to use. These drawings show what the building has been evaluated for in the past and what it is good for. The report highlights the requirement of the code and the conformity to it.

It is important that you understand the limitations of the generic drawings since it will impact how you present them. Since it is not practical to have drawings on every variation, it is important that you understand how, what we are giving you, is at least equal or what you are building is an upgrade from the drawing. Even though the sub section of the building code has not changed from when these buildings were reviewed, the way that engineers and building officials deal with them has changed.

Permit & Building Liability

From a liability perspective, engineers will not give a “blanket stamp”. Building officials also often want something current and specific to your project. Other building officials simply want to confirm what this building is generically good for and are fine.

A photocopied set of drawings with a stamp may get you the permit you need but it is important to remember that only a new or original stamp will get you a level of legal protection should anything ever go wrong. The insurance coverage which comes with an original stamp is one of the reasons for the cost. The unfortunate part of this process, is that there is nothing on this which we can do in advance.

We have ways of upgrading our structures for snow and wind loading. In most cases we will recommend these when discussing and quoting the project. Even if you are not going with the upgrades, it is important to understand the options so that you have a back up before your building official denies your request.

Completing the Permit Request

One last thing which you should verify with your building official if you are in a situation of needing a permit, has to do with how the process will be finalized or closed off.

Some officials will hold you responsible for adhering to the drawings and some will come, after completion, to check for themselves. Others will require the engineer to sign off on it.

In the case of the generic drawings, this is not an option and in the case of a new stamp, it will be an expensive add on that you should be aware of.

For an engineer to sign off on something, he or she has to do a visual inspection. Photographs are not admissible. Depending on where you live, there could be a significant travel cost added to the bill.

Ultimately, it is your responsibility to verify requirements
and ensure compliance before building.

February Features! *Winter and Your Structures*

We have a number of resources on our website to help you with taking care of our structure over winter. We have compiled a list of “Greatest Hits” below, that you can review at your leisure and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions if you are unsure or can’t find what you’re looking for. We are always happy to help.

The best place to start is the Winter Care Pages in our instruction manual.

We also have: Winter FAQs

Video: Norm explains the situations where you would need to remove snow from a Greenhouse or Storage Building and how to do it safely

Winter Care & Maintenance
Important notes for various situations
Our structures are designed in a gothic shape with a slippery cover to be lightweight and snow resistant. This encourages the snow to slide off quickly. This is not an industrial high snow load building….

Weather Cautions
These buildings are not industrial grade shelters and, as such, some caution must be exercised under some winter storm conditions….

Winter Storm & Your Structures
Many areas have been hit with freezing rain today and even though it has generally not been enough to warrant concern for the structures, it is a good time to recap some common things when dealing with ice on buildings….

Retightening a Loose Structure Cover
Re-tightening a cover does not have to be done in one day. Taking a short cut will leave you with more wrinkles. Areas with wrinkles will flutter more and cause stress points.
This will also cause the cover to deteriorate quicker……

Temporary Fix for a Loose Cover
There are a number of instances where a cover will need to be installed in less than ideal conditions. This can be either be on a windy day or in the cold (-10C or worse) and the job simply can not wait.

Season Extension: Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels
The real lure of these buildings is their low cost and simplicity to move. Generally the area is prepared in advance and then the tunnel is moved over the area when the planting is to be done…..

Happy Valentine’s Day and Family Day! We hope you and your family are staying warm, and getting excited for the upcoming spring and growing season! We look forward to working with you on your projects in 2021!

Season Extension: Moving Your Structure

A significant part of season extension involves moving an intact structure.

This basically allows you to get two (or possibly three) plots of production from one investment.

The idea is to start a relatively cold tolerant crop very early in the season (the timing will be different in different locations).

  1. Once the crop is firmly established in location A, (and it has warmed up) you will move the structure to location B and start another crop.
  2. You will harvest the crop in location A and then after working the soil, plant another crop in location A which is intended for fall harvesting.
  3. After location B is harvested and before frost you will move the structure back to A.
  4. Instead of doing twice in location A you could also choose location C.

A structure can be equipped with wheels which will run over the soil. There is quite a bit of flexibility where you go and the terrain you navigate.

The structure can be equipped with rollers on a track. This will determine where you go and this is usually intended for moving a bigger structure with fewer people.

The most common method of moving is sliding the structure on the soil. The base rail can be wood or steel.

It is critically import to understand the logistics of moving on a structure before you start. It is not hard to move a structure but it is also not hard to do damage.

Having a plan for proper anchoring is very important for a moveable structure. Your structure is at a vulnerable state when you release the anchors. Once you start, the job must be completed quickly. You have to be aware that the anchors may not come out or go back in easily so you may need to give yourself some extra time.

One other area of consideration on a moveable structure is the ends. There must be some sort of a flap or vent along the bottom so that when a structure is being moved, the ends will not uproot plant material. Generally speaking to have this ability in the ends takes away from the structural integrity, so some extra anchoring may be required.

You can see more information and photos on our movable information page. Please don’t hesitate to call us with ANY questions you may have. This can be a very useful addition to your structure, but must be understood correctly.

Stay tuned for part two and three of our season extension series later this week!

Season Extension: Ventilating & Heating

To make your greenhouse more of a year round functioning entity, there are two main areas in which you have to make the structure more efficient-Heating and Ventilation.

1. Heating is your biggest expense for the winter so retaining heat is a priority.

The easiest way to retain heat in your greenhouse is to install a double poly cover with air in between. A small squirrel cage blower attached to the inside layer of plastic aids in maintaining air between layers.

The more dead air space between these layers you can create, the closer you will be to achieving a 30% reduction in heat loss. Holes will result in air movement and therefore less efficiency. 3″-5″ consistent space is ideal. It is a given that you would have less then that around the edges and over the ridge.

Double plastic will have a considerably longer life span. It is important to realize that as plastic gets older, the light transmission will be reduced which will reduce production.

Infrared plastic (IR poly) does further reduce heat loss and increase light diffusion so it can also be a consideration when looking for ways to reduce heating costs.

2. Ventilation is also one of your biggest considerations for the warmer times of the year. Ventilation can be done through forced or mechanical methods or passive through vents or roll up sides.

Vents are extremely effective since they can be placed higher up where the heat needs to be expelled. Mechanical ventilation is more costly both up front and to operate but it is easier to control since it is attached to a thermostat. For mechanical ventilation to be effective, it needs to be sized and located properly.

Roll up sides are less costly and simpler to install but are restricted by the fact that you have to be there to open and to close.

Climate control is especially challenging in the spring and the fall since most days you will have the need for both ventilating and heating.

One area that you need to be especially aware of is stagnant air. Without proper air movement, circulation and exchanging, stagnant air can cause many different types of diseases. It is important to understand what your plants require

Stay tuned for the third and final installment of our series about Season Extension and Your Greenhouse coming soon!

Hunger Awareness Week

At Multi Shelter Solutions, we are committed to helping eliminate food insecurity and people going hungry. During the pandemic earlier this year, we were fortunate to be considered an essential service due to providing structures to grow food and take care of various equipment, animals and other tasks on the farm.

We have helped numerous food banks, particularly associated with schools, to help grow food for the people who need to use them. Partnering with schools, this also allows the ability to teach the kids how to grow the food that they, and their families, are eating.

This future planning and thinking is a sustainable way for all of humanity. With this week being Hunger Awareness week, we want to highlight this special cause and initiative, that is needed all year long. Through our Giving Back program at Multi Shelters, we have donated to various charities that provide food, as well as donating structures to communities in need. If you or someone you know has an organization that could benefit from this, please reach out and have a discussion from Norm about how Multi Shelters can partner with you to help make food insecurity a less prominent concern in our society. And please, if you see someone in need and can help, please do. We are all connected, we are all one.

Giving Back Initiative Update

Giving back to Food Banks Article

Around the Web – Giving Back

Year End Reflections

To all our valued customers, potential customers, and followers,
A Letter From Norm, owner/manager

As 2019 comes to a close and I reflect on all that we as Multi Shelter Solutions have been able to accomplish, we indeed have a tremendous amount to the thankful for.

It is especially gratifying for all of the opportunities to serve our customer’s structure needs, help people figure out their challenges and hear positive responses.

We continue to receive a lot of inquiries as a result of customers recommending us to their neighbours and colleagues. For that we are also tremendously grateful.

2019 has been a year of significant change at Multi Shelter Solutions from a staff perspective. Gwen went into semi retirement in March and Kelly took over in the office. Kelly has been quick to learn and up to the challenge of handling many of the customer requests to the point that it was necessary to hire an additional person for the office. Many of you have been greeted by Maggie when you call. She has also been packing the hardware portion of the orders and handling items that are shipped via courier. We are looking at adding another person to the shop force in the spring to ensure that orders continue to be shipped promptly as Maggie expands her duties as well.

As we reflect on 2019, we also reflect on what we can do better. We intend to upgrade our assembly instructions based on the questions and feedback that we have received. We are going to have a more formal plan in place to thank those who do refer others to Multi Shelter Solutions and we are going to donate a portion of each structure order to a chosen charity each month. We will be posting these on our website with something about them. This is in part to our commitment of giving back .

Teaching customers and prospective customers has always been a priority at MSS, as well as a value of myself. We are intending to increase the videos and other interactions to make information available in a timely fashion. We welcome feedback so that we can do even better.

Have a wonderful Christmas season and we wish you a very prosperous New Year.

On behalf of the staff at Multi Shelter Solutions, we look forward to working with you more in 2020!

Norm Eygenraam