Ontario and cottage country go together like chocolate and peanut butter.
Whether it’s Muskoka, Collingwood, or the many other gems all over Ontario such as Haliburton, cottage life is woven into the fabric of this great province. Owning a cottage in Ontario is a lifelong dream for anyone with an appreciation of clear starry nights, breathtaking lakes, and lush, green woods.
Yes, building a cottage in Ontario is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall lifestyle. But who you choose to build your cottage matters.
While the builder is only one of many factors at play, it is quite possibly the most important decision you’ll make when it comes to building your dream cottage in Ontario.
Below, we’ll delve into the criteria you should use when choosing the best cottage builder for you.
1. Do Your Research!
Most likely, you’ll start looking for a cottage builder online. Of course, a decision this big demands some deep research ‒ not just reading a few reviews online!
Look into how long your prospective builders have been in business. As a general rule, the longer, the better.
After you have done your initial research, ask prospective builders to show you some of the cottages they have built. If the builder is willing to show their work, it’s a good sign they stand behind it ‒ and that they’ve got a good relationship with their customers. From there, see if you can talk to the customer to gain more insight.
Finally, you’ll want to ensure your builder has a Tarion Warranty. Royal Homes has been a proud member of Tarion since its beginnings in 1976 and is proud to be part of a select group of only 7% of all of Ontario’s 6,000 builders that meet Tarion’s stringent criteria for outstanding customer service.
2. Choose a Builder with an Eye for Design
You want your dream cottage to look exactly as you imagined it. But if your builder doesn’t have a knack for design, you might be disappointed.
Instead of having someone else draw up plans and then handing them to your builder, it’s better to choose a builder who works directly with draftspeople and architects on the design. When your builder is involved in the design process, you’re better able to avoid problems in implementing what you want and plan around the space. You will be better informed about the logistics and costs of various design elements.
A strong working relationship between the builder and designer means both the build and design processes will work in harmony. That’s why Royal Homes has a team of in-house architects and designers.
We said it already, but research is another crucial component here with the design! You’ll want to look at a prospective builder’s other work to get a feel for the general aesthetic of their cottages.
3. Transparency is Key (Especially When it Comes to Pricing)
As is the case in all types of business, not all Ontario cottage builders play it straight with you. Sure, they might end up doing great work…but a lack of transparency means you’re kept in the dark, and nothing is worth that level of stress.
Beyond that, a custom cottage is a big investment. You should be made aware of all the costs before the build starts. Otherwise, you might get halfway through the process only to realize you’ve got no money to finish up!
As a rule, reliable and transparent builders, like Royal Homes, only provide pricing or quotes once your plans are complete. Before that point, they’d be guessing and couldn’t possibly be accurate.
Moreover, note that two cottages of the same size won’t necessarily cost the same since we’re talking about custom builds. These aren’t cookie-cutter homes with plug-and-play templates, so there’s no basis for that type of comparison!
The pricing process might sound frustrating and arduous. However, when a builder gives you a transparent look into these costs, it makes planning that much easier because there won’t be any surprises. To that point, talk to a builder’s previous clients to see if their cottages didn’t exceed the projected budget.
Be very careful to choose a transparent builder you can trust. You don’t want to be dealing with emergency bank meetings because of surprise costs!
4. Ensure Your Builder Can Roll with the Punches
Undoubtedly, there are plenty of problems you might run into during a custom build. While choosing the right builder will help you sidestep most issues, you’re still bound to run into the odd snafu.
What’s crucial is ensuring that your builder can roll with the punches. Namely, you might decide that you want some changes. After all, it’s your custom cottage, and it’s your prerogative to alter your vision.
For example, you might want a room to have more space, have windows repositioned, or you might want to switch finishing materials. It could even be the design in your kitchen.
From all these possible changes would come a difference in costs.
Therefore, you must have a good sense of what types of changes you’re likely to want. Then, you need to keep track of them. After that, make an up-front agreement with your builder on how to handle those changes.
Good builders also keep track and inform you about the costs of changes as you suggest them while breaking it down in their billing.
When signing a contract with your builder, ensure that it explicitly states the included costs, making it straightforward to note any changes.
With these tips, you have the blueprint to find the builder that will give you the custom cottage of your dreams. And that’s exactly what you deserve after working hard for all these years!