June 7, 2019 8:28 pm

From concrete to contractors: Calgary offers home improvement tips for construction season

Calgary officials are hoping more people will do their homework before digging into home and yard improvement projects. As Cami Kepke reports, experts say doing the paperwork ahead of time is cheaper than fixing mistakes.


Despite the snow and cool temperatures across parts Alberta late this week, many Calgarians have summer on the brain and with that comes home and yard improvements.

The most difficult part of these projects can often be navigating the necessary permits and regulations.

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: Are permits needed to build a deck, pergola or shed?

The city hopes people will do their homework before they dig in — after all, paper is cheap. Concrete isn’t.

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“I have a plan to renovate my basement,” homeowner Gurmukh Jhaata said. “I need to ask some questions to make sure I get all the right information here.”

Dozens of people attended an information session with experts at the Genesis Centre in Calgary’s northeast on Friday, applying for permits on the spot, and even bringing their own plans to make sure they’re compliant.

“We want to make sure people aren’t having to take anything out,” the City of Calgary’s Jennifer Crack said. “For example, there might be electrical that might not be done completely correctly. That costs people money to have to take it out and redo it. If they know the code ahead of time, they only have to do it once, saving time and money.”

Safety is the top priority, but experts say it’s important to focus on electrical, plumbing, building codes and land use requirements.

Even things as minor at the height of deck railings have to be checked before you build.

“I’m finding things now in my house that I’ve been living in for 20 years that really are a bit of a surprise in terms of the quality of work that was done,” homeowner Cindy Heselton said. “My house was built in 1988. Luckily there’s nothing really too major, but I’m finding little surprises and learning along the way.”

The city is also trying to make this information more accessible online, even for people who don’t plan on doing the work themselves.

“We want to make sure people can do some of the work themselves, and the work they’re not comfortable doing, they hire the right person,” Crack added. “We even have our license inspectors here to make sure if you do hire a contractor, you’re trying to hire a good one.”

The city will hold two more similar sessions this year in hopes handy Calgarians will make sure their home improvement projects are done right the first time.

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