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!

Anchoring: Base Brackets vs Anchor Posts

edit-Base Bracketanchor post photo

We offer two main types of anchoring for our structures: Base Brackets (left pic) and Anchor Posts (right pic).

Which one you decide to go with largely depends on your application and location. They are not to be used together, it is a one or the other option. No matter which option you choose, please be aware, there is no such thing as too many anchors!

Although the building can be anchored directly into the ground with Anchor Posts, it can also sit on a slab, curb or beam or it can be elevated on some sort of a wall. Base brackets with lag bolts are supplied standard to fasten the building to the chosen form of foundation. Anchor Posts are available at an additional cost.

Anchor Posts must be set into concrete when:

  • the soil has been recently excavated (within the last 5 years)
  • it is required by the building code (use of concrete usually classifies the building as permanent)
  • extremely windy and exposed areas exist (at least use on the corner posts)
  • more than 10% of the anchor post will be out of the ground (upgrading anchor post size may be needed)
  • there are areas where erosion has been a problem in the past

Anchor Posts SHOULD NOT be used (and base brackets used instead) when:

  • the soil is a very heavy clay (heaving would be a constant problem)
  • there is a shallow rock layer
  • there are major amounts of rocks interfering with the accuracy of anchor post setting
  • the structure will be moved shortly (anchor posts must be cleaned out before reusing)

**Recommendations are based on years of experience. Ultimately the customer is responsible to properly anchor a structure**
Please see our installation pages for a more detailed breakdown of this topic Base Brackets vs Anchor Posts

Modified Hanley Tunnel

One of our most popular structures is the hanley tunnel because it is the cheapest way of covering an area for season extension.

As a way of addressing some of the challenges and limiting factors with the tunnels, we have come up with a modified hanley.

The two areas where it significantly improves on the regular tunnel are the side clearance and the peak for snow shedding. Instead of using 24’ of steel to make 17’ wide and 7’6” high, we are using 26’ of material to make 16’ wide and 9’ high. It still uses 28’ wide plastic with extra at the ends to make the same kind of “tails”.

Sliding the plastic up on the sides is still the way that the tunnel is ventilated and you will still have the same challenges as far as creating access.

The re-bar anchors, base plates, clasps and rope are the same on the modified hanley as they are for the regular tunnel. We supply 5’ more of extra plastic for the tails since the building is taller.

The peak on the end hoops are very hard on the plastic, so we have designed a more rounded hoop at each end. It is strongly recommended to have 3 guides ropes at each end to brace back to the anchoring posts of the plastic.

Any structure with ends is not considered a Hanley Tunnel. We are more than willing to discuss the differences and benefits/drawbacks between tunnels and cold frames should you wish to know more.

The main thing which is critical to understand before going with a modified hanley is the extra wind load which the structure will be subjected to. Going from 7’6” to 9’ high, results in a 40% increase in the wind load. This issue is what makes the correct tightness of the ropes an even more critical consideration.

It is also the reason why we strongly urge customers who
do not have any tunnel experience to start with a regular tunnel.

Season Extension: Hanley Caterpillar Tunnels

The first area to discuss regarding season extension are those structures that are simple enough to disassemble and relocate to another spot-primarily referring to 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.

Since the original design specified 6′ hoop spacing, the intent was always to remove the cover before risk of heavier snow fall. More often now, growers are going to 5′ spacing (and sometimes 4′) to allow the covers to remain on longer or even permanently.

By having a smaller hoop spacing, it allows the cover to stay on permanently, which allows for a much earlier start in the spring.

The key to the concept of the hanley working is in the rope.

  • The back and forth pattern of the rope resembles the way a person would lace up a boot.
  • Typically there is a spring loaded clip at the base where the rope passes through.
  • Once the rope is fully installed, it is important to tighten it through three passes from end to end.
  • If the rope is not tight enough, the wind will create wiggle and movement sideways.
  • When the plastic is tight enough, it also allows the grower to slide the plastic up the hoop to allow ventilation.

Generally the plastic is about 25′ longer then the tunnel.
This allows the installer to bunch up (pig tail style) the extra poly at both ends between a pair of posts.
It is important to get the plastic as tight as possible lengthwise first.
There must also be a rope from the top of the last hoop to the tie off post.

There are a couple of challenges to consider with the hanley tunnels.

  1. One of these challenges is to create a proper entrance. Typically entrance is achieved by slightly lifting the plastic and ducking underneath.
  2. The other are of challenge is the low shoulder height of the structure. This restricts the use to a couple rows of taller items in the middle and a couple rows of shorter plants along the side. The width of the tunnel does lend itself to three regular size beds.

Once you have learned about the nuances of the hanley tunnels, and asked any questions that come up, you will be better prepared to have these efficient season extenders work for you and your application.

Feel free to look at our Hanley Application page for more information and photos, and give us a call with anything else you require.

We are pleased to have many happy customers these structures are working for, and look forward to you being next!

Check out our new book if you want to know more “So You Want to Buy a Greenhouse…Your Guide to Planning a Greenhouse Purchase”

Norm shared some nostalgia after Coffee Time with Norm recently. Check out his story here:

 

Organic Greenhouses/Shelters-uses and benefits

As we recognize and celebrate Organic Week 2020, we want to share a popular article from our website. We thank the organic farmers that go the extra mile for land stewardship and are proud to partner with so many of them. We will be sharing and highlighting some key organic related articles all week. We hope you find them helpful!

There are many benefits to having a greenhouse structure for organic growing and housing. They are often used a season extender for protecting crops from the elements, blight, and fungus. Since Organic growers and farmers do not use pesticides, this type of protection is often required for some of the more sensitive crops.smaller high profile

The structures are easy to move to allow the expansion of the growing area.These structures can easily help to give you the opportunity to grow more crops in a limited area. What many of our customers also do, particularly with Hanley Caterpillar structures, is start growing the early crops under the protection of the structure, and as the crop is stable enough, they move the structure to be able to start the next planting.

Knight Hanley Structure

Our structures are also used for organic livestock raising to ensure the animals have a healthy, safe and protected environment out of the elements. They are versatile structures, and only require the changing of clear to white plastic for the various uses. The environment allows the animals to have sunlight, but still get the shade they require.

Goats5

The combination of the double layer of plastic, roll up sides, and inflator fan, on both the greenhouse and livestock shelters, helps to reduce condensation and keep the structure ventilated. We are excited to be working on a solar powered fan option for those off grid customers or if the structure is out in the field away from electricity as we know many of our organic growers and farmers are in these situations.