When Bill purchased his Muskoka cottage over 40 years ago, he loved the peninsula that it stood on, and the panoramic views it offered. He even loved the traditional cottage that occupied the property. But after years of renovations to the drafty seasonal dwelling, it was time to rebuild.
“I wanted the new cottage to look and feel similar to the original cottage, but with the ability to enjoy it year-round,” says Bill.
His first goal: find a builder that could build in the rustic style he had grown to love. The original cottage featured pine walls and ceilings, with a comfortable living room overlooking the lake, and a breezeway connecting the main cottage and the master suite.
Bill and his wife spent hours visiting home and cottage shows, meeting with contractors and touring models. He decided he had eight years before he wanted to start the construction, so he took his time educating himself on the best cottage designs and building styles.
“I know I frustrated some salespeople. Their annoyance just made me look elsewhere,” says Bill. Eventually, he narrowed his sights on Normerica Timber Homes.
“Normerica was very patient. When I went in, I told them we won’t build for eight years. The sales guy didn’t pressure. I spent a good amount of time learning how everything was built. They were constantly patient with me – even when I was asking a million questions, only to come back with a million more.”
Selecting The Ranger 3575 House Plan
In addition to Normerica’s client-first approach, Bill was immediately won over by the look and feel of their timber frame designs. Their model home felt comfortable and cottage-like – unlike others that felt a little too polished and residential.
“The original cottage was all pine, which integrated beautifully with the pine trees that dot the property,” says Bill. “I didn’t want to lose the rugged wildness.”
Bill loved the vaulted ceilings and exposed timbers and was thrilled to find a model called The Ranger 3575 on their website that shared a similar layout to the original cottage.
Finding strength in timber frame
The allure of the timber frame was not solely aesthetic for Bill. While the rugged beauty of the timbers blended perfectly with the character of the property, they also offered him a boost of confidence in the cottage’s strength and longevity, even amid the worst Muskoka winters.
“We get incredible storms on the lake. When the biggest storms hit, the walls of the original cottage would move. One time I had a buddy stay the night, and he claims he felt the corner of the cottage lift off the supports. I didn’t want that anymore,” he says. “I wanted to know that I could hold onto a cup of coffee in a bathrobe in the middle of a winter storm and feel perfectly safe and warm.”
So far, his cottage’s massive timbers have provided the comfort, security and shelter that Bill so desperately wanted – even during a recent mini-tornado.
“We felt nothing. Not even a creak. The cottage is just solid.”
Customizing the cottage
While The Ranger acted as a natural starting place for the Design team, Bill is quick to point out that the current cottage isn’t a cookie-cutter replica of the original plan.
With the help of Normerica’s designers, the cottage underwent seven different revisions to reach its final building plan.
“Normerica was always so good at communicating what they were doing, and why. They were so receptive to my suggestions and always came through with interesting innovations that sparked a new level of modifications to make things work.”
Once the cottage reached its fourth or fifth version, the team moved to 3D walkthrough presentations, which helped Bill to conceptualize aspects that he had previously overlooked.
“The 3D walkthrough gave me a true feeling of the intricacies of the design,” he says. “They produced exceptionally realistic renderings, so we could get a feeling of what it would actually look like.”
Loving every aspect
While the separate master bedroom is a defining feature of the cottage, Bill says there is so much more to love about his new cottage. His wife’s favourite room is the kitchen, and he loves to spend his mornings in the living room with a cup of coffee in hand. “I like making coffee and watching the fire. It’s just so peaceful.”
Years of research and planning went into his cottage, but Bill admits that Normerica made everything so simple, he could’ve expedited the build with full confidence.
“I can confidently say, if I needed to move forward faster, I could have done it quickly, given the information and experience I had working with Normerica. You get a lot of experience there.”
TEXT Shelanne Augustine