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7 Things You Should Know Before Building a Cottage

Bryan Baeumler spills about the real life challenges of building a cottage

When HOSS Real Estate Editor and HGTV Star Bryan Baeumler built his cottage on his hit show, House of Bryan: On the Rocks, a whole nation was watching him. While the build had its ups and downs, Baeumler finished with some newfound knowledge of what to do the next time around. Here is his top tips for future cottage builders.

The Drive to the Building Supply Store is Far. Very Far

Whether your cottage has road access or not, it is likely going to be at least an hour drive there and back to your nearest building supply store. That means, depending on your location, it can be pretty difficult to access supplies and also transport them to where you are building. The best tip I can lend is to be extremely organized with your deliveries—the last thing you want is to forget something and have to make another two-hour trip to get it.

The Drive is Even Farther if You’re Building on an Island

Island cottages, like the one we built on House of Bryan: In The Sticks are even more of a challenge due the restricted water access. We needed a barge to transport large items and a boat for smaller ones. The kitchen delivery was especially tricky given all the cabinetry. At one point I was certain the barge was going to flip and all our cabinets would be ruined! For the delivery of furniture we actually drove the truck filled with the items right onto the barge. That was also a bit risky, but hey, saved us a ton of time!

Cottage Builds Cost More

In my experience, cottage renovations are going to put a bigger dent in your wallet simply due to tighter timelines, more secluded locations that are harder to get to and availability of general contractors. A lot depends on the size and complexity of the cottage you want to build, who you’re hiring, or if you are tackling the project yourself. It also depends on how organized you are. You can save on transportation costs by bundling up several shipments into one, or making sure your list is complete before you make the (long) drive to the building supply store.

Mother Nature Means Business

The weather won’t likely slow you down if you start in the spring (or mid-April if you’re lucky). You should have at least five or six months of decent working conditions, as long as the rain gods are on your side. But other things in the environment need to be considered, too. Humidity can attract pesky bugs and in our case, the dreaded blackflies were out of control in the late spring when we were prepping for the exterior and laying the foundation. We wore masks with netting and that helped keep the flies out, but it was tough to breathe and hot as hell. Good thing we had a nice big lake to cool off in!

Ask Your Neighbours to Find Great Local Contractors and Tradespeople

The best thing is a word-of-mouth recommendation. There likely won’t be that many general contractors or trades in the area, so talk to your neighbors and see whom they use and who is reputable. Get a few good references and check out cottages the company has done work on. As always, be sure to get more than one quote before hiring anyone. If you have to bring in tradespeople, expect to pay a premium, as they will need to stay somewhere in the area which will obviously increase the budget

It Pays to be a Good Neighbour (OK, We Already Knew That)

Actually, we didn’t have any issues with unhappy neighbours due to the exclusivity of our location but remember, it’s always a good idea to give neighbours a heads up about your plans. The courtesy of letting them know what you are doing is always appreciated and can make for a lasting positive relationship.

Final Hint: Don’t Use Your Outhouse as Garbage Storage

It’s a really bad idea with an ugly (and smelly) outcome. Also, be absolutely positive there is no garbage on site at the end of a day, unless of course you want a nice visit from some black bears. We learned that lesson the hard way by getting quite a scare from a protective Mama Bear and her cubs!

BIO: Contractor and TV host Bryan Baeumler has been educating and entertaining viewers for years on his TV shows, House of Bryan, Leave it to Bryan and Disaster DIY. Bryan Inc. premieres in fall 2016 on HGTV.