My parents just bought a piece of land and want to build within a year. I am thinking they should camp out for at least a year and get to know the area before building. Is that a good idea?—Name withheld
Sure. Lots of folks choose to camp on their properties pre-cottage, and architects definitely recommend spending time on the lot—the more time, the better—before building (or designing). It’s really the only way to get a sense of where the sun is at different times during the day, where the wind comes from, and which views are the most spectacular. These factors can help you decide where to situate the cottage, plus where to put the outbuildings, the deck, the windows, etc. (These things may also depend on setback regulations and zoning restrictions, of course.)
Before you urge Mom and Dad to drag their camping gear out of the basement, keep in mind that some municipalities have bylaws against putting up tents. Depending on how the lot is zoned, they may not be allowed to tent on the property until a “seasonal structure” (a proper dwelling) is in place.