Every contractor wants to be proud of a build, which is why a good contractor will pay attention to the small details that make a project exceptional for generations to enjoy. These details are crucial in the preliminary stage to finish with a beautiful cohesive building that marries with the beauty of the Georgian Bay landscape.  Deciding where to place your cottage on your property is possibly one of the hardest and most important decisions to make.

When creating your vision for your cottage build, be mindful and accepting of surroundings, which admittedly on Georgian Bay are challenging in all their rugged beauty. The goal is to have a cottage that strikes a balance between your needs, wants and the impact of the structure on the surroundings from the building and shoreline perspective.


1.     Check with your local Planning Department for zoning by-laws and restrictions.  You are required to have a current survey that must include all required dimensions,  setbacks,  and contour elevations (including the controlled or high water mark), as required by your township.  The surveyor can plot the “build envelope” to give direction on where buildings can be placed without a costly and lengthy variance application.

2.     Establish location for a septic system with the assistance of a reliable local contractor.  There may only be a single option for septic location.  Alternatively, there may be more than one option of approved type of septic system for your property.

3.     Topographic contour must be considered for build location and design. There may be restrictions in place regarding groundwork such as blasting. Be open to concessions such as moving your build further from water’s edge which sometimes can result in improved views from the building and enhance the shoreline appeal.

4.     Spend extended time on your property at different times of the day and night to digest what your property has to offer and to understand its best features.  They are sometimes hidden.

  • Walk the property and become familiar with vistas, sunrise and sunsets
  • Pay attention to the subtleties of the property (water flow/runoff shoreline bedrock outcroppings, mature tree stands
  • Orientation at the design stage can make the most of what your property has to offer
  • Keep in mind the potential for further expansion which may minimize impact and expense in the future.

5.     If there is an existing cottage, does it need love, an overhaul or a complete rebuild? Take note of the location of the original cottage – often it was placed there for good reason and you may be able to take advantage of “grandfathered” builds that were far less restrictive. Any increase in building size in these instances may be understandably limited.  Older cottage properties often have the best features and views, which is why they were chosen first!

6.     Develop a well thought out list of needs vs wants, likes and dislikes and Pros and Cons.  This will give your contractor, designer and/or architect an idea of your priorities and can assist by partaking in discussions and presenting ideas or professional opinions.

7.     Continue to evaluate your developing project throughout the process to ensure it meets your end vision regarding the completed building and budget. Continue discussions with your Construction Team and together build your dream to enjoy for years to come.