Colin and Justin are at it again. Last season they shared the risk of first-time cottage ownership with friends. But this time around they’re going it alone. After seeing more than 40 cottages, will they find the right one? And if they do, will their reno plans work out? Prepare for the lid to pop … cos the (Cabin) Pressure’s really on!
We always say you wouldn’t ask a Mexican to build you an igloo, so why ask a city realtor to find you a cottage? Local knowledge is power (especially when cottage hunting) so the first thing we did was get ourselves a realtor with a broad knowledge of our prospective area – Haliburton. It’s not rocket science!
Rob Serediuk, host of Cottage Life’s ‘What’s For Sale?’ and Colin and Justin’s realtor
Enter Rob Serediuk, the effervescent host of Cottage Life’s What’s For Sale? Effervescent? Yes, but equally adorable. While his direct approach and diva-like tendencies make Mariah Carey seem like a girl guide, underneath it all Rob’s a consummate professional who really knows what he’s talking about.
That, however, didn’t stop the ambitious realtor from showing us dozens of fixer uppers where the best fix we could see would have been a box of matches. Blimey! So what was out there? Well, cottages certainly come in all shapes and sizes, but with our budget restricted to $300k, we’d already shrunk the potential property pool. We saw houses with giant carved bears at the door, small shacks wrapped in weird vinyl (designed to look like brickwork) tiny “sheds” at the bottom of perilously precipitous pathways, dated museums of 1960s kitsch and, erm, cabins that made the house in Deliverance look like an easy breezy walk in the park.
The log cabin with giant carved bears at the door
In our realtor’s defense, we (like so many prospective buyers) asked the almost impossible – we wanted a great house with bags of potential in our price range. Simple. Add to that wishlist southern exposure, four season designation, a mix of splendid isolation and proximity to the essentials: the lake and the LCBO. Fussy? Us? Come on!
As our search continued, we were reminded that cottage buying is a bit like speed dating – you spend a little time with loads of “candidates,” then go back to the one you like best, hoping for full-scale romance. Which is exactly what happened with us. Rob, thankfully, produced the goods, a manageably sized cottage perfectly positioned on a great piece of ground. Close to the lake, bathed in sunshine and more than reno ready, our new shack shook us up in all the right ways. So we put in our offer and snapped up our new baby!
One of over 40 cottages that Colin and Justin looked at
Upon completion of the sale, we took part in a time-honoured Colin & Justin tradition – that being to spend the first night in the property on the day we got it. Overnight case? Check. Sleeping bags? Check. Inflatable mattress? Check. Champagne? Check us out! Tooled up and ready for anything (or so we thought) we opened the door and were immediately bowled over … by the smell of damp, the sight of mouse poop everywhere, and the scratching of various critters who’d moved in during the house’s year-long vacancy.
Another outdated and incomplete cottage interior up for sale
After a sleepless night (in spite of the champagne) we squinted at the new day beginning, observed the kitchen roll, which had been shredded by God knows what in the night, and agreed that our problematic cottage needed serious correction. Had we bitten off more than we could chew?