Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 4, Issue 1
February 2009
Avoiding Yard Improvement Mishaps

It's always a good idea for homeowners to examine their property improvements to determine whether local bylaws are being observed. Consequences of misguided landscape/hardscape additions can cost property owners thousands in remedies. Property bylaws usually follow common sense, with local distinctions made by municipal governments.

Includes varied green plant matter dressing a home's exterior, including lawn, plants, trees, bushes or even water plants.

Hardscape: Includes non-horticultural improvements to a property, such as the addition of a pool, pond, deck, gazebo, lawn ornament, shed, fencing or rock culture.

Abiding By the Rules
Depending on where you live, you may be required to obtain a building permit before you construct a gazebo or deck.
Decks and gazebos: There are bylaws stating that local building permits must be secured before building decks, gazebos or other outdoor structures. Many homeowners bypass this requirement and, by doing so, risk building a structure that may not comply with code or that may be too close to the property line. Homeowners with elaborate two-storey decks should always obtain building inspections to ensure the structures meet safety codes.

A municipality can force an owner to dismantle outdoor decks that do not comply. Also, home insurers have indicated that an unsafe deck that hasn't been inspected may be uninsured for injury claims that are a result of the structure.

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