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Bryan Baeumler talks foundations on rocky ground

If you’re cooking up a building project this summer on rugged or rural terrain, there’s a lot to think about. And I don’t just mean the obvious things like sorting out your design, picking a location and deciding how big to go.

First of all, do your homework. Check with the municipality and be sure that you get a permit, if required, for a deck, shed, gazebo or outbuilding. Most structures over 108 sq. feet need one. You should also check local by-laws for specific rules that dictate how close you can build to your lot line or water’s edge, and to make sure your designs are compliant with local building codes. Think things through from a practical perspective, too. If you’re putting up a bunkie, you’ll want to keep it close to the main cottage, unless you plan on adding a composting toilet! Guests like to be close to the cottage.

You’ll read more about bunkies in this issue of HOSS – it’s a good DIY project, but not for the novice. I'd recommend that anyone attempting to build their own bunkie has a fair amount of experience when it comes to framing. Not only is structural integrity important, but the final look can affect the value of your property.

Keep in mind that rural builds on rugged terrain may need some special tools, too. There is a lot of rock in many areas of cottage country. If the footings for your build end up being directly on bedrock, you'll need a rock drill, or hammer drill, with a carbide bit for boring into the rock. You'll want to place a couple of 15 ml pieces of rebar into the rock to hold each footing in place (if you are porting footings), or drill holes for saddles ( if you're attaching posts directly to the rock). A laser level helps if the terrain is very uneven – it can save a lot of time trying to match elevations across long distances, as well.

When it comes to budget, remember that materials tend to cost more in rural areas. Delivery charges will be a little higher, too, especially if your materials arrive by boat! The other cost to consider is the price of labour if you're hiring someone. And don’t discount the value of your own time. After all, attacking a building project will take some time away from fishing!

Finally, don’t ignore safety just because you're at the cottage. I've seen many a weekend warrior with scars on their flip-flopped feet. At the very least, wear hearing and eye protection – and covered shoes. Also, depending on your area, be on the lookout for wasp nests when you’re working in the brush or moving rocks around. Watch for rattlesnakes, too. I’m not joking! They typically aren't dangerous, and certainly aren't aggressive unless you step directly on them or get too close. Again, covered shoes are your friends!

By paying attention to safety, doing your homework and planning, you can ensure your fun project at the cottage doesn’t turn into a nightmare.