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The cottage bunkie

Everyone loves a cottage getaway. But what’s a cottager to do when the list of “everyone” outgrows the number of beds? Time to build a bunkie!

“I don't know anyone with a cottage who doesn't have, or want, a bunkie,” says HGTV host Bryan Baeumler. “There's a trend at cottages where there's a central building, usually with mom and dad's room, the family room and kitchen. And surrounding it are smaller satellite bunkies for the kids and guests. They serve two great purposes – giving hosts and guests some peaceful privacy, and providing a spot for the kids to get rowdy.”

When it comes to building, Baeumler says it’s important for DIYers to think of a bunkie as a house, but on a smaller scale (and usually without most of the mechanical systems). In short: don’t cut corners with planning.

“Before beginning, check with the municipality to find out the permit requirements, create a plan and submit for a permit, if required. A lot of people feel that the rules of construction don't apply when they're at the cottage – but the better you plan and build your bunkie, the longer it will last.”

Not so handy? Baeumler says pre-fab options – or hiring a contractor – may be the way to go. “A lot of people put up their own bunkies – for most, we're looking at glorified garden sheds. Pre-fab bunkies are a great option if you're looking to get something in quick and minimize the amount of work, apart from putting in a foundation. Although, pre-fab kits can be challenging, as well. On the other hand, there are a lot of great contractors in cottage country. If the budget permits, go with a custom bunkie that will match the look and feel of your cottage.”

Some pre-fab bunkies have gone to the next level – they’re beautiful, functional, tiny dwellings.

Steve Weissmann, president of Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, says his company’s four House-to-Go models are popular for those looking to add cottage space for visiting family and friends.

Built on wheels (which can be covered when parked), a House-to-Go unit is easy to move and requires no special permit to tow. These tiny houses are functional and exquisite. “The Elm” features a custom arched window above the door and offers optional dormers in the loft for added space, light and cross breeze. It has a full porch and lancet window and, like all Tumbleweed House-to-Go models, is a fully certified recreational vehicle, with conventional utility hookups. Prices range from $57,000 US to $66,000 US.

For a more contemporary style, Meaford, Ontario’s The Bunkie Co. offers four ultra-modern pre-fabricated bunkies from $21,900 to $36,500 CAN with deluxe options. The Premier, Monarch, Vos and Huron models all measure 106 sq. ft., require no building permit and come pre-assembled – no finishing or painting is needed.

“Small homes – small architecture – is a movement that’s sweeping the world right now,” says The Bunkie Co.’s Nathan Buhler. “We’re taking calls about our products from customers across Canada and the US.”

Large glass walls are a Bunkie Co. trademark and the units are also uniquely manufactured for superior structural strength. Interior and exterior custom options include a queen-sized wall bed, modular cabinetry and ethanol burning fireplace.

“The typical approach to a bunkie used to be making the cheapest structure you could, then throwing in some bunk beds for the kids,” says Buhler. “We’re taking a much different approach.”

-by Jeffrey Reed