How to choose cottage building experts

Who to call to start building your place on the lake



Whether you’ve just inherited Aunt Lucy’s old fixer-upper, or can’t wait to build your own dream getaway, you’re likely going to need help with design, planning, or construction — unless your next of kin happens to be the latest starchitect, the Designer Guys, or reno guru Mike Holmes. Who do you call? Architects, contractors, and manufacturers of prefabricated cottages all have the skills to come to the rescue but offer varied services.

Here’s a primer on who does what and how they can help you. (Editor’s note: See below for disambiguation of the types of experts.)


Pretty much the same as a general contractor, and the two words are used interchangeably. Like a contractor, a builder negotiates contracts, hires trades, supplies materials and equipment, supervises construction, and may take on some of the construction work personally. See “Contractor.”

Contractor, Subcontractor

Technically, anyone who takes on work under a contract. In this case, we’re referring specifically to a construction expert, who may undertake renovation or construction work, or hire subtrades or subcontractors to do so. A general contractor usually oversees a project.

Building designer

Is experienced in design and in drawing renovation and construction plans that meet Code requirements, but is not a registered architect. See “Architectural technologist.”


Carries out the planning, design, and sometimes supervision of a renovation or construction. Must be licensed with a provincial regulatory body, such as the Ontario Association of Architects, to call themselves architects. Permitted to design buildings of any scale, from a cottage to an opera house or hospital.

Architectural technologist

Educated mainly in drawing production and building technology. Qualified to design and manage construction projects within the limitations outlined in the building code, but not allowed to design large buildings such as schools.

Prefabricated manufacturer

Uses pre-engineered, factory-made walls and other components in its construction projects. Some companies subcontract the installation to local builders, who will often handle the paperwork with the municipality; others ask that the customer liaise with the municipality for some permit applications and approval.

1 comment

Sort order:

Oldest Newest


Aug. 1, 2011

1:24 am

When building your home, or making home improvements, always choose a good contractor who can provide you with first rate services.

You need to be logged in or a registered user to leave a comment

Log in  |  Register

Tonight on Cottage Life

  • No listings available
View Full Schedule