Langley Advance editor Roxanne Hooper is building a new deck and wheelchair ramp on the front of her home – with some help.

Langley Home and Garden: Err on the side of safety with DIY

When doing a project expect delays and added costs in doing it right.

Plans for a small landing off the front of my Langley City home – something that was intended to be surrounded fully by flowers and shrubs – were in the works from the day the title transfer papers were signed.

But my wife’s recent stroke prompted some unexpected changes to those plans. And that landing has since grown into a rather large deck and ramp, offering space and stability to accommodate safe access and egress in her wheelchair.

With those adjustments in mind, the need came for much more planning, a lot more supplies, and the construction insight, ingenuity, and brawn of a generous and smart friend.

But, let’s backtrack for a moment. Before we considered building anything, doing things safely and legally was of paramount concern to me.

Naturally, I paid a visit to the Langley City planning department, to make sure I was meeting all the regulations. Bonus, because of its low height, it was considered landscaping. Yippee!

No building permit required.

But, there was still requirements to meet building code. In fact, as it turns out, we probably went overboard on that front. We just keep in mind the entire time that the main purpose for the deck is provide safe access for a disabled person in a wheelchair.

Of course, one of my second contacts was to BC One Call, to find out where and how to dig to avoid connecting with any of the underground utilities in my front yard. That was well worth the call.

Those steps taken, new plans in place, supplies (at least most of them – you always forgot something), and my friend and tool belt in position, construction was finally ready to begin.

Interestingly, as the project now comes close to wrapping up, I’ve learned a lot during the past few weeks.

I realize the need to be flexible (in time and expense)

By taking time ahead of the project to get my ducks in a row, I believe it helped ensure the project moved relatively smoothly – there were a few minor hiccups, as expected.

It’s probably a given that no renovation or construction project ever goes as fast as you think it will, or want it to. This was no exception, either.

But being hands-on for much of the project, I’ve realized every delay was critical in adding more security, safety, and peace of mind. Every delay and rethink on the project was worth it, always opting to err on the side of safety.

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