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Cottage Q&A

Size matters, fair shares & root cause

I BUILT AN 8 by 12 ft. cabin last year. I would like to cut a hole in the 12-foot wall and insert a box measuring six by eight feet to function as a bunk bed, supported outside with posts. Would the building then be considered more than 100 sq. ft.? The insert would not be at floor level.

We know what you’re thinking: the addition doesn’t count towards square footage because you’re not expanding the building’s footprint. Sorry, but “the building code doesn’t care about footprint, only the area the building occupies,” says Dan Sayers, the chief building official for Ontario’s Municipality of Dysart et al. Math tells us that with this bump out, your cabin would equal 144 sq. ft. We assume that your original cabin didn’t require a permit; regulations vary, but in many places, buildings smaller than approximately 100 sq. ft. don’t. But changing almost anything on an alreadystanding, originally permit-free structure—adding a deck; inserting a window or a door—may require one.

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You can do it! A Guide to Cottage DIY. How to live with wasps. Easy pulled pork recipes. Why do animals have whiskers? Wood that lasts forever. Workshop secrets from the pros. The new wave of woodstoves.