The reason why I haven't been posting in the last few weeks is because I didn't follow an important rule I always tell myself: Keep It Simple Stupid (yes I'm referring to myself), better known as the K.I.S.S. formula.
I've been slugging away at my guidebook Legal 2nd Suites - A Beginners Guide for the good part of the last three months, but really struggling to wrap things up because I was so stressed about how technically accurate it had to be, and how I had to include everything including the kitchen sink.
About two thirds of the way through, I basically threw the whole thing out the window.
I started over using the same outline, but scrapped all the technical jargon, details that can be dealt with later, and anywhere I caught myself trying to sound smart. Instead I focused on getting the message across to what mattered most, which is this:
Use existing spaces in your house to create a self-containing separate living space that can help generate more money, and how to go about doing this.
This whole thing came to a boiling point for me in a moment of frustration and realization that so much of the "official" information surrounding the real estate and construction industry was incredibly difficult to understand and over complicated, when it doesn't need to be.
Most of it stemmed from a number of building permits and communication with some of the folks over in the various municipal building departments. Most of the time, they were helpful, but in many other cases, I felt like I might as well have spoken to a brick wall.
The various code books for example, are so convoluted that it takes a combination of an English major/Lawyer/Architect to fully grasp most items in it.
This is the case with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. Trying to understand what they mean and getting you an answer doesn't seem like their objective. It's seems like they're more interested in keeping the information hidden so that only members of their old boys club understand it. PS Knight, a long time author of Electrical Code Simplified, is being sued by the CSA Standards for copyright infringement. This is after decades of sales of one of the most popular consumer code books available for Canadians to help them understand the electrical code with simple language and illustrations, hence keeping people safe.
I use this book all the time and love it. CSA claims that this is derivative copyright, and doesn't like the fact that it is interfering with the sales of their main code book.
Well CSA, if you came up with an easier to understand version, maybe people would buy that?
It's challenging when the codes are so confusing and ambiguous that each building official can interpret the information in their own way. I really hate telling my clients whether their smoke detectors need to be interconnected will depend on the examiner's interpretation. But that's what I have to do.
Opportunities For Improvement
Apologies, as this post has been part promotional for my guidebook and part rant, but I'm really hoping that things change for the better in terms of how things are done in the world of real estate and construction. And this starts with better and simpler communication from the regulators and policy folks.
I think there's real opportunity to shake things up, and make things much better. After 18 years in the building industry, I'm starting to see some change demanded by the people. I'm hopeful it will get easier for the sake of so many people out there who need better solutions for housing and need clear answers.
In the meantime, I'll help you disseminate.....I mean propagate.....I mean promulgate.....
See how hard it is to keep it simple? Let's try that again.
In the meantime, I'll help you figure out the 700 page building code to tell you how high your ceilings need to be until someone figures out a cool new app (Sorry I'm not smart enough to do that).
YAY, My Guidebook Is Out!
Anyway, I'm happy to say the guidebook is finally done, now available, and FREE of cost and technical jargon (for the most part). It's a great primer into the whole topic of legal secondary suites if it's something of interest to you. You can download it right here.
Thanks for reading, as always.
For your viewing pleasure, these are the types of conversations I will have on your behalf if you are a client of mine (actual email with building official as he was trying to simplify something for me):
Me: Is this what you need?
Municipal Building Official: Yes, please. To reiterate, as with the aforementioned, identifying whether the floor system is a prescriptive or composite design. Should it be composite-design; you would require to elaborate on each of members of the floor system in contributing to the sound class-rating (to which, I will require to reacquaint myself to my university course manual/reference – humorously). Also, please do not forget a generic-design for the wall assemblies for the mechanical room and the exit facilities. This specific project; your discretion, as the designer, whether you wish to identify the floor/wall assemblies as a text (similar to the above) or as a sectional-detail drawing/technical sketch. Thank You for your cooperation. My intention was not to elongate the sound-rating issue, being informed, that I would be in receivership of the sound-acoustical correspondence (manufacturer’s specification).