Design & DIY

How to plan a cottage renovation

Contractors working Shutterstock/Zoriana Zaitseva

Winter blizzards may have you camped out in bed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t spend the time dreaming of your perfect cottage renovation—heck, why let it stop you at all. “Indoor stuff isn’t really affected by the seasons,” says John Funston, a contractor in the Georgian Bay area who operates Georgian Bay Home and Cottage Ltd. While exterior renovations are easier in the summer, Funston says that for most jobs snow won’t stop a contractor. “The only difference in the winter time is that we have to keep the heat going. That can be an added cost.”

If you are going to hire a contractor for some cottage renovation work, it’s best that you provide them with a complete vision of what you want from the start. Everything from paint colours to the type of trim, to the wood for the floors. “The more the better,” Funston says. It also helps to keep in mind what type of renovation you’re doing, especially if you’re going right down to the bare studs and insulation. “In those types of cases, we basically go in and completely gut and do a big clean up,” Funston says. “Then at that point, we’d start with any trades: electrical, plumbing, anything that needs to be done. And from there we’d move on to insulation and carry on with the hardwood floors, ceilings, drywall.”

If you’re a go-getter and want to eschew the cost of a contractor in order to complete the project yourself, then it’s best you nail down your plans beforehand. “Changes midway through the project can sometimes cost a lot of money, especially if it involves changing the plans, reapplying for permits, anything like that,” Funston says. It’s also important to expect the unexpected.

As with any DIY project, you’re bound to run into a bump or two along the way. “You definitely want to add a little bit of extra onto the total project costs for unforeseen problems.”

One of the toughest issues you might have to confront during a renovation is rot, forcing you to replace an entire piece of timber. “You find that in a lot of older cottages,” Funston says. “People that have let them go for too long.” Rot is particularly common around windows. “Windows sweat and then that sweat drips down into the framing and the framing rots out.”

On the other hand, one of the more enjoyable renovations to do, at least in Funston’s opinion, is exterior siding. “That really changes the look of the cottage and it’s relatively easy to do,” he says. Although all projects will have their pros and cons, your favourite will likely depend on what you’re trying to accomplish. So, whether you’re just dreaming of a renovation this winter, or actually tackling one, make sure you plan ahead.



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