A cottage owners dilemma: to build or to remodel?
Should you build your dream cottage new, from the ground up, or invest in a renovation of that diamond in the rough property? For many cottage owners (or soon-to-be cottage owners), it’s a difficult decision. That’s because there are often just as many pros as cons whichever route is chosen.
As prime cottage season approaches and these major projects are getting underway–important decisions need to be made. To help plan your cottage course of action, ask yourself the following questions:
Does the property have “good bones”?
This will be the first thing a design-builder will help you determine. You can start by examining how intact and solid the foundation of the property is. Next look for sturdy, level floors, a roof that isn’t caving in or in need of a total reframing, and standard ceiling heights. Particularly in older and more remote cottages, inspect the walls for mold and rot, termites and other infestations. These will be major expenditures to bring up to code, and might end up being the determining factor in your decision to start from scratch, or invest in a remodel.
Is there a historic, emotional or personal connection to the property as-is?
Many cottages are passed down between families, or have been purchased in an area that has sentimental significance. If there are emotional, historic or even architectural rationales at play, a remodel can mitigate many of those issues by preserving the character, details, and style of the cottage. For example, many remodel projects reuse materials from the existing cottage, or simply enhance what remains. However, if the cottage isn’t salvageable, you can keep the style and characteristics, but build a new structure that is likely more efficient, has longevity, and brings in more modern aspects that fit your preferences.
How do the costs compare?
It might seem obvious that a remodel is a smaller investment than a completely new build. A new build usually requires the purchase of land, and professional demolition and construction that in many cottage regions is particularly pricey. But, consider that likely the restoration of old materials, or bringing an historic cottage up to current codes and standards can be complex, labour intensive and ultimately, quite costly. Costs vary, but structural changes, in particular, will come with a larger price tag. So too, will running into issues like asbestos, foundation damage, or major plumbing/electrical projects. It’s best to make this decision once you know the magnitude of the restoration or remodelling project.
Ultimately, “build” and “remodel” are the two paths that lead to a dream home-away-from-home cottage. Consider all of the factors carefully with a professional, and you’ll be one step closer to dream cottage ownership.