Covid Update 3/31/21

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We are grateful for the way that everyone has been working together, and we will get through this next lockdown, with compassion and vigilance.

As an effort to keep our staff and customers safe, our office remains closed to visitors and our strict delivery protocols are still in place.

We thank you in advance for your co-operation and look forward to continuing to work with you on your projects through the spring.

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!

February Update

Ever since the onset of COVID-19 virus with all of its challenges, we at Multi Shelter Solutions have been fortunate to have a huge increase in interest in our products. We are grateful that people see such value in our greenhouses as they search for added food security amidst uncertainty.

This increase in interest during this time of uncertainty and extra protocols for safety have not happened without its own challenges. We are grateful for the patience which customers have shown and also their willingness to plan ahead.

Generally speaking we are getting people the information and numbers which they need within a week. Some of the more complex quotes or ones with a few extra situations do take a few extra days.

In the office, Maggie has been quickly acknowledging requests and identifying any missing information so that when Kelly or Norm does the quote, they have what is required.

We appreciate you giving us as much information as possible to reduce any back and forth and help your quote process go quicker. As a reminder we do not give quotes or delivery updates on our social media.

Please be aware that with the uncertainty and volatility of steel and aluminum costs, we are only guaranteeing our prices for 30 days. We understand people appreciate having those numbers available for their planning purposes on our website but the best way to ensure accuracy right now is to phone or email for a quote. As a heads up, we will be updating pricing on our website in the near future, to respond to the situation we are facing from our suppliers.

With our current workload, deliveries are being quoted at 10 weeks. Some of the larger or more complex buildings are being quoted as longer. We work at grouping things together in certain areas and some customers are surprised with quicker deliveries. This is something that should not be counted on.

Our office staff continues to reach out to customers just before delivery to ensure they are aware of delivery protocols. Acknowledgement of these protocols is mandatory for the safety of the driver but also in more and more situations, part of the necessary paperwork we must file in advance as we travel out of province.

We appreciate everyone helping to get these things organized quickly and efficiently. We are grateful that we are classified as essential service and are meticulous with ensuring paperwork is complete so that we can maintain that status.

We will continue to use our website and social media as best as we can, as a tool for keeping our customers informed and up to date on what is going on in our rapidly changing world.

We look forward to working with you on your greenhouse and shelter projects and wish you health and safety in the coming month and beyond.

Thank you for your interest and patience,

Norm & the Multi Shelters Team

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

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!