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The crucial steps of building your dream cottage

Building a new home or cottage on the perfect lakefront property is a dream for many Canadians—until they get mired in the details. Once the project is underway, it can become a huge source of stress. And even when it’s complete, many end up wondering how much more they’d enjoy it if they’d made different choices.

To help you avoid those hazards, we spoke with Kyle Duguay, Beaver Homes & Cottages’ Package Sales Marketing Manager, about the important steps you can take to minimize the stress on your path to building your dream.

Start planning as early as possible

If you already own a property and you’re getting ready to build a home or cottage, the best way to ensure a smooth building process is to start planning early. “In real estate, it’s location, location, location. But when you’re building a new home or cottage, it’s plan, plan, plan,” Duguay says. “Even if you think it’s too early, start having those conversations now.”

To make early planning easier, you need the ability to clearly visualize the final product—and to customize that design according to both the traits of your property and the way you intend to use it. With the tools available through Beaver Homes & Cottages, it’s easy to get a clear picture of the dream you’re building.

“We want to avoid that feeling of ‘If I had to do this all over again, I’d do it differently,’” Duguay says. “So the design process up front is critical.” For most Beaver Homes & Cottages customers, that vision begins with the Design Book, which is brimming with a range of building plans. “We think of it as an idea book,” he explains, as each design is fully customizable.

But flipping through the Design Book is just the beginning, as the Beaver Homes & Cottages website offers powerful tools that bring your vision to life. “Now customers can take that little floor plan from the pages of the book and see what those dimensions feel like when they’re actually in their new kitchen or their great room,” he says.

He also points to a new tool, launched last fall on the Beaver Homes & Cottages website, to bring the design process to life. “With our Virtual Design Centre, you can not only look around and up and down to feel the space, but you can also change out the flooring and the kitchen cabinetry to really get a sense of what the room is going to feel like when it’s built.”

Stand inside of your vision

Beyond the catalogue of customizable plans and online design tools, Beaver Homes & Cottages also takes a hands-on approach when working with customers, tackling parts of the design that people often don’t consider until they’re too far into the building process.

“Not every design is going to suit every property,” Duguay says, “so your Beaver Homes Consultant will visit your property with you to help you visualize what your house or cottage will look like once it’s built.” During those visits, they’ll discuss everything from how light will enter the rooms in the mornings and evenings to whether a walkout makes sense for the grade of your land. “We even suggest that, with your consultant, you grab a bucket of stakes and a tape measure and ‘stake out’ the home on the property so you can get a sense of the space,” he says. “Then you can actually go and ‘stand in the kitchen’ and see the view from the window above the sink. Because it’s way cheaper to make changes before the shovel hits dirt.”

Skip the sourcing hassles

As with most industries, the pandemic has complicated the building process. Supply chains are stretched, materials are scarce, and contractors and skilled trades are in high demand. “When Covid started, everyone who was thinking about building in the next five years suddenly accelerated their plans, and everybody’s now trying to build their dream home or cottage,” Duguay says. “It’s created a tsunami storm of people looking to build.”

He sites kitchen cabinetry as a prime example. Whereas people used to worry about cabinet doors and knobs much closer to the finish line, shortages are derailing those schedules. The same goes for everything from windows to roof trusses. “You now need to plan and order those things well in advance so that the building process can continue smoothly, because those interruptions are going to cost you time and money.”

In many cases, people who failed to plan ahead have had to halt their projects because they didn’t have the materials on time. And once a contractor has moved on to another project, it’s often tough to wrangle them back when the supplies arrive. “That’s one of the things that differentiates Beaver Homes & Cottages from a lot of other offerings,” Duguay points out. “You can go to any other building-materials supplier and place an order, but the person at that store isn’t going to be part of your build team for the whole process. We fill in that gap.”

Build the best team for your design

The “build team” Duguay refers to is crucial to creating a final product you’ll be happy with, and just like any other part of the plan, you need to start thinking about it as soon as possible. “Covid created a whole bunch of new demand, but it didn’t create new contractors,” he says. “They’re getting booked up further and further out, so if you’re thinking of building in the spring and you don’t try to find a contractor before then, the contractor who might be available probably won’t be the one you want building your house.”

And even if Covid weren’t a factor, finding the right contractor in a remote region can be tricky. Not only do you not know the right people, but in many cases you won’t be aware of local rules that could hold you back. That’s why working with a local Beaver Homes Consultant is so important. “Having that point of contact locally, who knows the municipality and who’s already established relationships with the contractors, trades, and building officials in that area, can make the whole process go so much smoother than somebody walking in completely green, with a level of expectation that might not be aligned with the reality of that location,” Duguay explains.

Get it right the first time

Most people who set out to build a new home or cottage don’t intend to repeat the process. It’s a one-shot deal, so you don’t want to take chances—and you definitely don’t want to find yourself back at the drawing board after the foundation’s been poured. “Building a new home or cottage is probably the most expensive and stressful thing anybody’s going to do in their lifetime, so you need to have good people on your team,” Duguay says. “If you’re only going to do this once, you’ve only got one chance to get it right.”

Ready to bring your vision to life? Reach out to your local Beaver Homes & Cottages Consultant and start the conversation today at beaverhomesandcottages.ca.