The waiting game
Elaine and Rodney have owned the vacant lot in Haliburton that they built their dream cottage on since 1997. They’d met with several local builders over the years but, since home is nearly six hours away in Michigan, “We were looking for a contractor that could do it all,” says Elaine.
After initially finding Cedar Winds through their website, they never expected that they would have most of their interactions electronically. They first meet with Glenn and Teresa at the Cedar Winds office in October 2019, took a site tour with the team, and decided right away that they’d found the right fit. And then COVID-19 hit.
Planning for the project began that fall and early winter, but with the Canada–U.S. border shut down, the couple were not able to attend any meetings in person or even visit the site.
“After that first meeting, everything was done entirely remotely,” says Elaine. This was done through a mix of phone calls, videoconferences, and an online communications and file-sharing platform called Co-Construct.
“Co-Construct is very user-friendly,” she says. In addition to using the system as a coordinated communications platform for project planning and management, the Cedar Winds team regularly posts work-in-progress images so their clients back in the city – or another country – can stay on top of things. “You can really see what’s happening at any given time,” says Elaine.
Elaine and Rodney also selected all their fixtures and finishes online. Using Co-Construct, they would upload images of things they liked and the Cedar Winds team would track them down or find the closest available equivalents.
In a normal home or cottage build, the owners will visit the site at least a few times throughout the process to see how things are progressing first-hand. But given the COVID-19 restrictions, Elaine and Rodney didn’t get back to their property until September 2021. Where previously had been a vacant lot that they’d become familiar with over the years, suddenly was the two-storey cottage they’d always imaged would be there. “It was overwhelming – in a good way! – to finally see it in person. It’s beautiful,” says Elaine.
The three bedroom, two-bathroom cottage features an open-concept kitchen, living, and dining area, with a modern fireplace, on the main floor.
On the second floor, “There’s a very large open loft area outside the master bedroom with a view out of the main windows,” says Elaine. “It’s my favourite room.”
A wraparound deck that runs the width of the building, accessible via two sliding doors, offers expansive views looking out over the lake.
Expect the unexpected
Elaine’s advice to people planning to build a custom cottage is to expect the unexpected. Once excavation began, for example, the couple found out they’d need to do some blasting for the basement. “That was an unexpected cost,” says Elaine. And some heavy rains led to some erosion issues that required some regrading. Still, “Any hiccups that came up have been addressed,” she says.