Building a cabin
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4 major budget busters when building a cottage

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If you’re preparing to build a cottage, you’ve likely already accepted that it’s a costly affair. Even if you’re doing a lot of the building yourself, plans, materials, permits, and unexpected hiccups mean you’re investing a fair bit of money (and time) into your little bit of cottage-country paradise.

To help keep your costs under control, you might want to consider these budget busters not only before you start to build, but also before you settle on a piece of land.

A remote location

No matter how much you love the idea of living in the middle of the woods with no teenage neighbours or roaring jet-skis to break the tranquility, the farther away from town and main roads you go, the more it’s going to cost. Trucking (or even boating) in material and equipment takes longer, hooking up to utilities (if that’s even an option) can be prohibitively expensive, and you’ll be investing a lot more time in construction—and, as they say, time is money. Water and waste tend to be big costs, too, so considering off-grid options like a composting or incinerating toilet may help ease the financial pressure if connecting to existing utilities turns out to be too expensive.

A rocky site

Oh, Canada. Those Canadian Shield granite outcroppings that are a familiar sight on northern highways are a pain in the wallet when it comes to building a cottage. If you have to blast through bedrock for a foundation, basement or septic bed, your costs will inevitably go up. Avoiding extremely rocky sites or investigating above-ground options may help save you money.

Grandiose design dreams

The farther away you get from a simple, open-concept box, the more your cottage will cost. Your budget will stay under control if you stick to simple plans—no elaborate roofline or crazy footprint—and simple, durable finishes. Plus, a well-designed open-concept plan will make a space seem bigger, meaning you can build smaller. If you’re using stock building plans, keep customizations to a minimum. And do you really need extensive outdoor landscaping? Stick with what nature provides—your bank account will thank you.

Unexpected restrictions

Before you start to build, check out local zoning and building code regulations. Different areas have different restrictions in terms of mitigating seismic activity, high winds or flooding, all of which can affect your build. And don’t think that because your cottage is only seasonal that it’s subject to different rules—for the most part, building codes treat permanent and seasonal buildings the same. Some areas may let cottage-owners off the hook for certain requirements provided the owner promises the building will only be seasonal. Doing your homework up front can save you money and headaches in the long run.