C&J dock

Colin and Justin are turning a rustic cabin into an income property

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Spring has sprung and we’ve only one thing on our mind…getting our new cabin rental ready for this summer’s vacationers to enjoy.

Och aye! Cottage country is once again playing host to two Scottish designers hell bent on transforming the Canadian landscape one crappy cottage at a time. This season, we say a resounding YES to a tired cottage in need of a mega reno, yes to fun and frolics in the forest, yes to huge digging machines and classic pickup trucks, and yes to boys with big decks—but more about that last point in the coming weeks. But our biggest yes this season is our positive response to a rental market in dire need of the ultimate cabin.

Looking to purchase an investment cottage, we called up a tried and tested property source—realtor Rob Serediuk, vivacious host of Cottage Life’s What’s For Sale?. We challenged him to find us a money spinner on which we could work over the summer. Rob talked of strong sales in 2015 and suggested no sign of a decline for 2016. A good time to invest? And then some. Unfortunately, none of the listings, at the time, were quite right. So we started looking elsewhere.

Appraising everything the market had to offer, we left no stone unturned as we scanned online sources, newspaper notices, and advertising cards in the Haliburton supermarket. As chance would have it, we heard tell of a for-sale-by-owner cabin on Drag Lake in need of serious TLC, so we arranged a viewing, fell in love, and made the owners an offer. Deal done, we were ready to bite the bullet and become holiday hosts.

So join us for season three of Colin and Justin’s Cabin Pressure and follow, week by week, as we transform a dated 1980’s “army barrack” style cabin into a luxurious rentable retreat. Stick with us to find out how we amended the dowdy architecture, watch as we sympathetically landscape to enhance our south facing exposure, and marvel at two Scots paddling their renovation canoe through unchartered, rental market waters. Will we sink? Capsize? Drown in the hellish mathematics? Only time will tell.

If you fancy dipping into the income property cottage market, there are a few things to consider before taking the plunge:

  • Ask yourself why you want a cabin—is it purely for the rental market? Or do you intend to vacation there too? Your need for pure solitude six hours from the city might not equate into the ideal rental cabin, so think how you can marry the two ideals together.
  • Don’t be put off by high prices—shop around remembering that smaller lakes justify smaller process and that destinations far from population centres will be cheaper—though you’ll have to adjust your potential rental price.
  • Choose a cabin that’s close to amenities such as grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals, and liquor stores. And don’t overlook how important it is to be close to visitor attractions such as Haliburton Forest or Sir Sam’s ski resort—all of these things will make your cabin attractive to renters.
  • Creating dedicated bedrooms, rather than piling visitors up on the sofa or into sleeping bags, is much more attractive to renters and you’ll be able to charge more. Put simply, bedrooms = bucks!
  • Be realistic with your spend—cottages come with all sorts of additional charges that you don’t get in the city—septic cleaning, local area taxes, garbage dumping, snow ploughing, etc. And rental cottages will require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep them sparkling and rentable!
  • Invest in items to make your cabin special—create a fire pit surrounded by the ubiquitous Adirondack chairs, install a large dock for boating, swimming, and sun bathing, and “4 season” your cabin to appeal to renters in the winter months. We demolished a wood stack and replaced it with an outdoor spa—do anything to stand out in the competitive rental market!

Fighting flash floods, mushroom-growing walls, and a skeptic septic system, will your wee Scottish cousins cross the finishing line and create the ultimate cottage rental? Or will they fall at the first hurdle? The pressure’s on!

Watch the third season of Colin and Justin’s Cabin Pressure on Cottage Life TV, Sundays at 9pm et/pt. Find your channel here.