4. The landscape design
The landscape design should comprise an overview of the client’s entire property and illustrate all of the project’s main features, including the location of the home, pool, spa, water features etc. Grading and drainage details should also be noted along with any setbacks, easements, or right of ways located on the property.
The location of hardscape elements (e.g. driveways, patios, walkways, terraces, and retaining walls) and softscape elements (e.g. plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, and grass) should also be indicated.
Garden beds should be outlined and include a planting schedule that shows the location where each item will be planted. With the garden bed locations established, a water irrigation design may be included that indicates the location of buried water lines, sprinkler heads, drip lines, and control boxes. Night lighting may also be noted to show the location of buried low-voltage wires and the placement of light fixtures.
Depending on the scope of work involved with a project, structural engineered drawings may be required. An engineer will specify the requirements and details for construction which is usually required when applying for permits. A contractor or builder should follow all specified information, and in doing so will be protected in the case of any structural failure.
In short, liability lies on the shoulders of the engineer, which protects the contractor and homeowner. Engineering can range in cost depending on complexity and the amount of detail required, but it is well worth the expense. Geo technical engineering should be carried out for all projects to determine if the soil is a suitable substrate to support the structure of the house, pool, and landscape. Limiting factors such as bedrock, poor soil bearing capacity, and groundwater will be outlined in the engineer’s report. With this information the budget and design can be tailored to accommodate any additional costs or design alterations that may be required.
A permit is required for the new construction of a building more than 10 m2 (108 sf) and for most renovation and demolition of existing buildings. The permit protects the interests of individuals and the community. By reviewing and approving a design before work has commenced it ensures the proposed construction complies with local building codes and zoning bylaws.
Building codes are an enforced standard to govern proper construction in relation to health and safety, fire protection, accessibility, and conservation. Zoning bylaws vary from region to region, but typically include setbacks, easements, minimum distance from septic fields, well heads, gas and hydro utilities, and adjacent properties. If the project resides in close proximity to waterfront, streams, and flood plains, certain requirements under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) may need to be achieved, along with approval by a local conservation authority.
An enclosure permit is required for any pool, spa, water feature, or pond. Again, this bylaw tends to be specific to the region, but will follow similar guidelines and restrictions. This permit requires the erection of a fence to protect the general public and to deter young children from gaining access to the pool/spa area.
For all permits issued, it is the responsibility of the permit holder to contact the municipality for an inspection. An inspector will examine each major phase of construction set out in the building code. Once approved, permission is granted to progress to the next phase of the project.
Proper planning and project management is essential
The cost of a backyard project can be mind boggling and, in combination with the construction of the house, project costs can easily escalate. Therefore, designers, contractors, and builders need to be extra cautious and diligent in their planning and organization because as the budget increases so does the liability.
Yet, with such a grand investment, it is astonishing how many projects are poorly planned. Every project component should be analyzed and even the smallest detail should be taken into consideration. Any minor details that are overlooked could be catastrophic to the project’s schedule, budget, and overall client satisfaction. Should a project go awry, whoever is in charge will feel this weight on their shoulders, so plan accordingly.