Cart Before the Horse

Just as implied by the old cliché, “Don’t put the cart before the horse”, starting construction on a project before doing the planning, creating construction documents and obtaining permits usually turns out to be as efficient as trying to push a loaded cart down the road with a horse’s nose.

We have been working with a client to develop a master plan for expanding their parking lot & develop a new children’s playground park on an adjacent piece of ground. At our first master planning meeting, we were surprised to see that a portion of the site had already been cleared and stone paving placed. It was explained that the excavator offered to save them some money by going ahead in preparing the site and placing the stone paving. The owner thought it was safe to get this work done since they were pretty sure he knew where the paving needed to go.

There are always consequences to our actions, and this story is no exception:

  • After the stone had been placed, the city issued a stop work order since proper permits and zoning variances had not been obtained.
  • The owner had planned to ask the City to waive the requirement to pave the lot within one year, but given their jumping the gun, the planning board was not in such a charitable mood.
  • A central focus of the master planning was to preserve and utilize a huge 100+ year old oak tree on the property. We noticed that the new stone had been placed right over the tree’s root system. We explained that the stone, and eventual asphalt, cannot encroach that close to the tree without damaging it severely or even killing it. The owner agreed to removing the stone and installing pervious paving blocks in the drip-line area of the tree, at an additional cost to the project.

As the meeting ended the owner realized that he will need to file for a use variances as soon as possible to make amends with the city. He also came to understand that the root system to the cherished tree that he wanted to save was most likely damaged by the compacting of the soil and placing the stone around the roots. The final reality set in, the money he saved on not having a second move-in cost to the excavator will be gone several times over.

Please give us a call so we can help plan and manage your next project, in the proper order, allowing you to pull your cart down the road at a brisk pace to increase your bottom line.

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