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  • Writer's pictureMarc S. Tremblay

Construction has started!

Updated: May 8

We had some very exciting news in the last few weeks: our building permit was issued on October 3, 2023, and we're thrilled!


It took about 2 months for the Capital Regional District (CRD) to process our building permit application, which is within the expected processing time for building permits on Mayne and Pender islands. Yay!


We learned a lot along the way. Since we're not builders, the phrase "you don't know what you don't know" is very à propos...


Obviously, buying a used house and moving it is very different than simply purchasing a home. When you add the complexity of building a new walkout basement for a house to sit on, you've got a project that even the building officials aren't exactly sure what portions of the building code apply (almost) - lol - but I digress...


House on cribbing on Mayne Island

Building permits are expensive. The fee is based on the value of the build. In our case, the fee was $6,135 for the permit itself, plus a “penalty” in the same amount for having "started the work" before the building permit was issued.


Arguably, we didn’t really start the work before the permit was issued...


Yes, we cut some trees, and yes, we excavated the area where the house was going to be positioned, but you don’t need a building permit to dig a hole on your property. You don’t need a permit to cut trees, and we did zero work on the house itself.


But, according to some documents from the CRD, you do need a building permit if you excavate the land in order to build a house. We think it’s ambiguous, or certainly in a grey zone, but it’s not a fight we’re willing to take on.


We knew that we could face a penalty if we moved the house to our lot before the building the permit was issued, but we didn’t have a choice if we wanted to get this specific house. As a reminder, the developer wanted it removed from where it sat for 45 years within 6 weeks of us making an offer on it.


Plus, we did the math! We calculated that paying the penalty, if slapped with it, was cheaper than paying for temporary storage in Sidney and moving the house twice.


As soon as we got the building permit, our amazing contractor, Steve Pike, ordered supplies to start building the footings for the foundation. Part One of the construction work was kicked off!


He started by dropping plumb lines and taking height measurements in relation to the rocky ground. It was supposed to be plus or minus 3 inches over the entire surface area, but it was as much as 10 inches off. The difference isn't a big deal since gravel will be used to level the floor in preparation for the concrete slab, but it's critical to know the difference and ensure the footings are at the exact same height and perfectly levelled all around the premimeter.



It doesn't look like much work was done, but this is some of the most time-consuming work. It is critical that everything be leveled and placed within a quarter of an inch or less of where the house will sit, when lowered on the foundations.


Simultaneously, Steve initiated conversations with the plumber and the electrician to ensure he knows where conduits and pipes need to placed, or roughed-in. He also ordered the insulated concrete forms (ICF) from Quad-Lock, which is going to be Part Two.


By this Friday, October 20th, the forms for the footings will be done, the structural engineer will have signed-off on the work, and the Building Inspector will hopefully come October 24th to check Steve’s work. Once approved, then cement will be poured around October 26-27. After that, Steve will start assembling the ICF blocks for the foundations.


Comments, question? Drop us a line!

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