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When planning a landscape always leave room for backyard structures

By Jason Mitchell

An enclosure can add a whole new dimension to a homeowner’s backyard, while also give the builder the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Planning a backyard landscape design is not an easy task as many homeowners are often overwhelmed with ideas and images they have either seen online or heard about from friends. The biggest mistake a consumer makes, however, is requesting a swimming pool that is too big for their backyard, which leaves little room for a patio or other structures. Therefore, it is important to take a step back and work through different aspects of the project and focus on other areas aside from the swimming pool, such as a poolside enclosure or cabana.

Not only is this a great opportunity to introduce an outside structure, which can add a whole new dimension to a homeowner’s backyard, but it also gives the builder the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Determine the budget

There are many different styles of backyard enclosures—from pergolas to prefabricated sheds to custom cabanas—that suit any backyard landscape design. Enclosures are also being built with a number of different materials, including cedar, stucco, stone and stucco, and siding. However, before getting too far into the planning process it is important to first establish the customer’s budget. For instance, the addition of an outdoor washroom will add a considerable amount of cost to the project. Therefore, it makes little sense to design a $75,000 backyard cabana when the homeowner’s budget is only $40,000.

Further, although a building permit is required for a backyard structure that is larger than 10 m2 (108 sf), the permit process is much easier than people think. Each municipality has slightly different requirements and setbacks, but generally speaking, once all of the drawings and paperwork is in order, it can be completed rather quickly. Of course, integrating plumbing into a cabana creates a little more work in obtaining a permit; however, an outside washroom and running water are two of the best features a homeowner can add to their backyard.

How much detail should an enclosure quote include?

When quoting an enclosure project for a customer, be sure to include all of the details, along with any specific finishing materials and accessories.

For instance, the quote for the enclosure project this article focuses on included an exterior natural gas fireplace, which was to be finished with Owen Sound ledgerock, an exterior infrared heater, along with an outdoor TV and stereo system, which was to have speakers installed throughout the yard. The interior of the enclosure was to include a granite counter top and bar area and, of course, running water with an outdoor washroom. Finally, the large cedar posts were to receive an exterior finish comprising of stone and stucco to provide a unique look.

Once the client’s budget was confirmed and their approval on the quote and overall design plans was received, and the appropriate building permits were in order, construction of the enclosure could commence.

Step one: Preparation and base

The pad has been poured and the footings are in place.

The area where the base of the enclosure would sit was excavated to a depth of 457 mm (18 in.), and a 19-mm (¾-in.) layer of clear limestone was applied to create a stable foundation and allow for optimal drainage. Another benefit to using limestone is it does not require compaction.

Next, an engineered concrete slab was poured 305 mm (12 in.) deep and 457 mm (18 in.) wide, sloping to the centre at a 44-degree angle to a 152-mm (6-in.) depth. Two rows of 15M-reinforcing bar (rebar) was used at the bottom of the thickened portion of the concrete slab, while a grid of 15M-rebar was placed at 305 mm (12 in.) on centre, approximately 76 mm (3 in.) below the surface of the concrete. Anchor bolts were placed a maximum of 1.8 m (6 ft) on centre for fastening the enclosure’s wood-frame structure.

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