Sunday, January 26, 2014

Where to build that new waterfront cottage: Designing your cottage

Designing your waterfront cottage: Positioning your cottage

When you have decided to build yourself a cottage, then you’ve decided to get away from all the hustle and bustle, away from the traffic, the noise and spend some time with nature and all the peacefulness that comes along with it.

Once you have found and purchased the property that you want to build your retreat on then you must design your cottage, the first thing that you must do in the design process is decide on where you want your cottage to go, where on your building lot you want to position your cottage.

There are a number of things that you need to consider when you start the process of positioning the cottage, here are some of the things that you will need to consider;

View. One of the biggest reasons people buy a cottage property is for the view, there’s nothing more relaxing then when you are drinking your morning coffee, sitting in your favorite chair and can take in something more beautiful then what you would ever see in the city. Your positioning of the cottage for your view will depend on whether you are looking out on to the water or if you are on a hill looking out over a land view. Some cottages do not have the typical view of water or hills their view is more trees and green space.

Lot restrictions. In cottage country, depending on your municipality will determine the rules and regulations of where on the property you are allowed to build your cottage. There are many restrictions, the distance from your neighbour’s cottage, the distance from roads and power lines, the distance that you have to be from the high water mark, the ground stability if you are on a hill, the restrictions because of protected or environmentally sensitive land on your property.

Septic System. The positioning on your cottage will be affected by your septic system. Most cottages will not be on town sewers, this means that you will require a septic system. Septic systems take up a fair bit of room depending on what type of septic system you install. When positioning the cottage you have to leave a place on your property large enough so that the septic can be installed.

Well or water. Most cottages are not on municipal water so they require you to install either a well or a water line that is run out into the lake. Either way you need to understand that if it goes on your property it requires a certain amount of room. Wells have to be placed away from septic systems and driveways to help eliminate contamination. Some places that have water lines going out into the lake will need the water treated once it comes into the cottage so that you can have potable water.

Privacy. You come to the cottage to get away from people in general, remember that when positioning your cottage you should try and keep some greenery or position the windows so that you are not looking directly at your neighbours.

You will need to have your property surveyed professionally, this is not just for the positioning of your cottage but also for the location of your septic system and any outbuildings that exist or will be constructed. The survey will also show the elevations, this will affect the grading of the lot around the cottage and the septic system.

When speaking of elevations a lot of cottage owners will try and take advantage of the grade of the lot to achieve a walkout basement. Doing this allows three things;

1. This gives you livable space downstairs in the basement; walkout basements have many more windows and doors allowing more natural light and also an exit out to the water or backyard.

2. Having a walkout basement keeps the main floor of your home higher off the ground giving you a better view of the hills or water depending on your views.

3. When building beside a body of water digging down can be dangerous, you can end up digging into the water table. Walkouts are basements that are guaranteed to be above the level of the body of water you are beside. As long as there isn’t a lot of water in the ground above that point you should have a dry basement where the water runs downhill past the cottage to the lake.

To get ideas for what elevation your house will sit at look at the existing homes around the land that you want to build on, these existing cottages will give you a hint of what to expect and how you should position your cottage.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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