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Cottage renovation dreamsAfter spending all summer at the cottage, you’ll surely be rested, relaxed….and a little restless to change things up? Maybe all the visitors convinced you that you need more spaces to entertain, or the sheer joy made you realize you want to turn your cottage into your forever home. Here's how to turn your cottage dreams into cottage realities.

 

1. Give yourself lots of prep time

After a summer of dreaming, you’ll be excited to get things started: you’ve probably visualized what you want, and have identified an investment amount. But, the more time you spend preparing, the better your finished product will be. As part of your pre-design process, you’ll have to decide how you want to use the space, visit stores to price materials, and peruse design magazines, online sites, and Pinterest for the look you want. Then, you’ll need to learn about timelines so you have a realistic idea of how long the reno could take. All in all, can take between 30 to 60 days (or longer, depending on the size and complexity of the reno) to plan what you want and find the right building partners — which you should start sourcing ASAP, because the best ones are always busy!

 

2. Assess your space

Cottage renos come with their own special set of considerations, from environmental to regulatory. Knowing all of these considerations beforehand will help you set a realistic budget and timeline, as well as help you discover structural limitations which might affect your plans. There are four key areas to consider when assessing your cottage space for potential renos:

  • Access to the property: The crew may need to source highly specialized equipment (such as cranes, or heavy-duty machinery) to mitigate challenging terrain or access points.
  • The elements: Consider the effect of years of erosion, trees falling or roots spreading, and extreme weather conditions of locations close to bodies of water.
  • Regulations: Do some research into the natural and government imposed restrictions your renovation might face. Look out for things like: Water setbacks, specific bylaws, local regulations, etc.
  • The cottage itself. Look for:
    • Rotting or moldy wood, rusty pipes
    • Infestation damage
    • Poor electrical wiring and plumbing
    • The age of the structure
    • The level of upkeep/maintenance and upgrades over the years

3. Set your budget

If you haven’t already set your investment amount, start by asking ‘how much are we willing to spend?’ Then, factor in the the results of your space assessment, as these can add to your budget. Then, do some research to see if your budget is realistic: there are many unexpected things that can add to your renovation budget, so dig as deep as you can. Researching Canadian home renovation trends to see what Canadians are typically spending will help you get a reasonable ballpark. Sometimes, going over-budget is just a product of an unrealistic initial budget; and there can be a big difference between what you want to spend and what you’ll have to spend.

 

4. Find the right partner

With so many special considerations for a cottage reno, it’s crucial that you find a building partner that understands the complexities of these types of renos. We’re proponents of ‘design-build’ firms: traditionally, construction projects follow a method where the client appoints a builder on one side and designer on the other. You’ll have a blueprint or design provided by a professional designer or architect, then hand over that vision to a construction or build company to make it into a reality. A design-builder is a single entity that takes care of the entire project from concepts and blueprints to construction down to the final paint touch-ups. What’s more, they’ll transform your and their ideas into a plan that fits within your investment amount. You’re best bet is a firm that is all about building a relationship, not just a ‘kill it and bill it’ project.

 

For more cottage renovation tips, get the free Canadian Cottager’s Guide to Vintage Remodelling!

Canadian cottager's guide to vintage remodelling

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