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Considerations for Moving to Your Cottage

Your cottage doesn’t just have to be a summer treat for you and your family – with the right equipment and maintenance, your Muskoka property can become your permanent residence. With businesses around the world exploring the benefits of remote work arrangements, moving to the cottage full time can become a reality for current urban dwellers. The cottage lifestyle can be amazing year round, but moving from the city to your cottage without taking the proper steps can be problematic.

Make sure your cottage is properly winterized

Muskoka winters can be unpredictable – brutal winds, heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures all make it important to be prepared. If your cottage isn’t properly winterized, you’re in for a rude awakening if you expect to last the winter. Many “four season” cottages are poorly winterized, and as a result are much better suited to short stays during the winter months rather than the entire season.

In order to last comfortably throughout the winter season, you’re going to want to ensure that your insulation is up to snuff, the furnace is working properly and has been maintained, and your windows are in good working order. If your old windows are letting in cold air, it’s going to put extra strain on your furnace and make your stay far more uncomfortable than it should be. Upgrading to triple glazed windows is a surefire way to reduce energy loss, keeping the cold air outside where it belongs.

Get serious about septic maintenance

If you’re considering an extended (or permanent) stay at the cottage, you’ll need to make sure your septic system is performing as intended, and that it’ll be able to handle the strain of year-round use. When you use your septic in winter, it effectively becomes a holding tank since the anaerobic bacteria don’t do their job breaking down waste in sub-zero temperatures. You’ll need to be sure that it will be able to handle the extra volume without backing up into your home. If your septic system is sized for light use, or if it is more than 20 years old, you’ll probably need to upgrade it before even considering staying at the cottage.

Consider winter road access and the accessibility of health centres

One of the most difficult things about staying at your cottage for the winter is that your road access may become compromised, especially if your cottage is located on a private road. If you’re part of a lake or road association, we recommend reaching out to inquire about snowplow fees – you will have to pay your association extra to keep the road maintained throughout the winter.

Even with your roads maintained, the location of your cottage will be extremely important if you have health issues – depending on your proximity to local hospitals, it could take responders longer to get you to a hospital than it would at your urban home. If you have serious health concerns and aren’t located near a hospital, you may want to reconsider a move to the cottage.

Your internet connection may need a serious upgrade

If you’re planning on working from the cottage, you’ll need to make sure that your internet connection is strong and reliable. We’re talking about more than hotspotting from your phone – if you want to continue emailing, video conferencing, and collaborating with colleagues, you’ll need something more powerful. Check with local providers to see what your options are – often, satellite internet is the only thing available to cottagers. If this is the case, you can probably rule out high definition video streaming and gaming, at least until Ontario’s long-promised rural broadband internet projects are underway.

With the right amount of preparation and forethought, a move to the cottage can be very successful, letting you and your family take in the beautiful sights and sounds of the Muskoka region all year long. If you’re planning on moving to the cottage full time, remember to check that your systems are functional and well-suited to four season use, make upgrades wherever they’re needed, and lay out plans for road access and emergencies. With everything taken care of, you’ll be able to survive the harsh Muskoka winters and enjoy a cozy stay at the cottage. For information about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Enjoy a Socially Distant Summer on Muskoka’s Beautiful Trails

If you’re a Muskoka cottage owner, chances are good that the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered your summer plans. While the province continues to reopen for business, large gatherings at concerts, festivals, midways, and other local celebrations still appear to be quite far away, meaning that you’ll have to get creative when it comes to enjoying your downtime this summer. Thankfully, the Muskoka region is home to dozens of trails that offer gorgeous sights and sounds, giving you and your family a perfect way to connect with nature while staying safe and socially distant. Here are just a few of Muskoka’s beautiful trails we feel are worth discovering this summer.

Don’t forget to pack smart
Before you leave for your outdoor adventure, remember to pack all the essentials. This will include plenty of water, trail food, sunscreen, bug spray, and masks. With so many summertime favourites not taking place until after the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, you’ll undoubtedly meet many people along the trail. We recommend wearing a thin disposal mask, as it’ll make hiking easier than a heavier cloth mask would.

You should also wear appropriate clothing that will protect you from the hot sun and unwanted pests like mosquitos, blackflies, and ticks – long sleeves, wide-brimmed hats, and long pants will keep you comfortable and protected all day long. If you’re planning on heading out alone, be sure to let somebody know where you’re going and when you’re expected to return.

Catch the sunset at Huckleberry Rock
Huckleberry Rock is one of Muskoka’s enduring scenic lookouts, serving as a local hotspot for over 100 years, featuring billion year old rock and an easy-to-navigate trail that lets you enjoy the sights and sounds of Muskoka Lakes Township. The Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail is a 2.5 km loop and is considered to be of moderate difficulty. The trail begins at Milford Bay Road, with free on-site parking. White markers on trees and rocks will lead you to your destination – if you get tired, there are benches along the way that are great for taking a quick break or having a quick bite to eat. When you arrive at the lookout, you’ll be able to take in the sunset in all its glory.

Find the Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail map here.

Take in one of Muskoka’s wildest waterfalls on the Wilson’s Falls Trail
The Wilson’s Falls Trail is located in Bracebridge, offering a challenging hike in the forest beside the Muskoka River. Along the way, you’ll be able to take in a gorgeous view of Wilson’s Falls, considered to be the wildest and most impressive waterfall in the Muskoka region. The trail is approximately 3.6 km and is considered to be difficult, featuring steep hills and challenging terrain that can be challenging for inexperienced hikers. The trailhead is located at Macaulay Public School, with additional access points along the trail and a picnic area perfect for enjoying lunch with the family.

Find the Wilson’s Falls Trail map here.

The Oxtongue Rapids offers a challenging but highly rewarding experience
The Oxtongue Rapids Hiking Trail is located near Dwight, following the fast moving Oxtongue Rapids and featuring breathtaking views of the Muskoka region. The Oxtongue Trail is 3.7 km long and is considered to be difficult due to the many rocky slopes and the trail’s proximity to the rapids – parents bringing their small children along should make sure that kids are by their side at all times. The trailhead can be found past the monument on Oxtongue Rapids Park Road. Along the way, you’ll be able to take in a beautiful forest, where you might catch a glance at birds and wildlife. For hikers looking to make an afternoon out of the journey, a picnic area is available.

Find the Oxtongue Rapids Hiking Trail map here.

The multi-purpose Hunters Bay Trail is perfect for cyclists, runners, and hikers
If you’re looking for more than just a great spot to hike, the Hunters Bay Trail in Huntsville offers amazing opportunities for cycling and running. The trail is 4.6 km and is considered to be of moderate difficulty. The trailhead can be found at the Centre Street bridge, proceeding along the river, under the railway, and onto Hunters Bay’s south side. This gorgeous trail features plenty of places to stop for a break or a bite to eat, offering a unique view of Huntsville’s surroundings.

Find out more about the Hunters Bay Trail here.

Stay safe and socially distant this summer by exploring the area’s many hiking trails and spending time outdoors. The Muskoka region offers endless opportunities for cottagers and locals to get in touch with their surroundings, taking in unbeatable views, catching rare glimpses of wildlife, and creating beautiful memories with family and friends along the way.

Featured Product: MasterGrain Doors

MasterGrain door products are the latest addition to the already impressive showroom at Muskoka Window & Door Centre. The company was founded in 2008 with the goal of providing the highest quality Canadian made fiberglass door products in all of North America. MasterGrain manufactures premium wood grain fiberglass doors that offer the natural elegance of wood doors, without the maintenance or lack of durability.

These impressive doors are the perfect way for Muskoka cottage owners to make a statement with their entryway. MasterGrain doors put style and engineering first, giving homeowners a beautiful, smooth-operating door that will last for years to come. MasterGrain doors are available in six collections, all of which feature their own unique styles and wood grains.

MasterGrain’s unique NVD technology

Innovative products demand innovative technology. For MasterGrain, NVD is that innovative technology, making them the envy of the door industry. The company takes pride in the intricate details put into every door they manufacture, using their specialized NVD process that seamlessly combines wood and fiberglass into one sophisticated package.

NVD technology is used in each and every one of MasterGrain’s doors, constructing a real wood door and using their unique technology to meticulously transfer its fine grain detail onto fiberglass panels. Once the process has been completed, your guests will be left in disbelief that it isn’t real wood. Learn more about the innovative technology used by MasterGrain.

A wide assortment of styles perfect for any Muskoka cottage owner

Being able to choose a door that matches the style and aesthetic of your cottage or home is important, especially for those looking to make a statement with their entryway. MasterGrain makes that a possibility for anybody, offering six unique collections that can satisfy any style need.

The Rustic Collection perfectly captures that “house in the woods” aesthetic that appears in cottages and cabins across the country. These gorgeous Rustic doors feature soft curves or planks that give off an unmatched warmth to visitors. Rustic doors are available in both cherry and knotty alder wood grains.

For those aiming for a more elegant look, the Classic Collection is the answer. MasterGrain’s Classic line combines sophisticated nineteenth-century inspired design featuring crafted panels and glass inserts with industry-leading technology for a door that will never look out of place or out of style.

There’s an unmistakable beauty in simplicity. MasterGrain’s Craftsman Collection offers a gorgeous, yet simple, style that uses square and rectangle shapes to their fullest potential. The Craftsman Collection is available in fir wood grains and a wide variety of unique styles.

Understated modern styles are some of the most popular in cottage country, making MasterGrain’s Contemporary Collection perfect for Muskoka cottagers. The Contemporary line uses clean, clear lines and direct set glass to create gorgeous minimal designs that you can take pride in. These modern doors are available in cherry and fir wood grains, with a variety of design options available.

Cottage owners who are looking for a clean, contemporary door without wood grain are in luck – the MasterGrain Contemporary EDGE Collection offers the same minimal modern designs with bold colour choices so you can make a statement with your entryway.

Finally, the unique Simulated Divided Lites Collection gives cottage owners a way to brighten up their entrance ways with custom configurations that can perfectly represent your property. The SDL line features three distinct styles – colonial, shapes, and craftsman, with cherry, oak, mahogany, and other wood grains available.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is a premier dealer of all MasterGrain door products, with our experienced team members having gained hands-on experience installing MasterGrain doors to offer you a seamless installation process. To find out more about the services offered by the experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.

Renovations to Make Before You Sell Your Cottage

Selling your cottage can go a long way towards funding your retirement, especially if you find yourself using it less and don’t want the bother of using it as a short-term rental property. Before you make the decision to sell, you’ll first want to make sure that you can get as much as possible out of the sale. Many renovations and improvements can significantly boost the property value of your Muskoka cottage.

The summer season is the ideal time to get a head start on renovations that boost the value of your property. From increasing energy efficiency and replacing the roof to ensuring that your cottage’s septic, electrical, and heating systems are up to par, here are a few important renovations to make before you sell your cottage.

Capital gains tax considerations

Before you go ahead with renovations that will boost your property’s value, you’ll first want to consider the capital gains tax implications involved with selling your cottage. Capital gains tax will apply to the sale of your cottage unless you’re able to use a principal residence exemption. If you’ve been using your cottage as your principal residence for a time, you’ll only have to pay capital gains tax for the appreciated value of the years when your cottage wasn’t the principal residence. If you aren’t using the cottage as your principal residence, you’ll be forced to pay capital gains tax for the appreciated value and any improvements you’ve made.

For example, if you purchased your cottage in 1980 for $100,000, but are looking to sell it for $400,000, you’ll be forced to pay capital gains tax on the difference between the purchase and selling price – in this case, $300,000. Before you proceed with renovations, add together the cost of capital gains and the improvements you plan on making to ensure that you’ll make enough from the sale to justify the renovations. This will allow you to make a more informed decision about your property, ensuring that you get the most out of the sale.

You’ll also want to save any receipts from the renovations you do, as they can be used to offset the amount of your capital gains. As the linked article from MoneySense states, only upgrades count as capital expenses; not anything that would restore something in the home to its original condition. For a full list of what is a current (non-claimable) or capital (claimable) expense consult the CRA’s website.

Increasing energy efficiency in your cottage

Energy efficiency is here to stay. Nobody wants old drafty windows and doors – not only do they cost more on your hydro bill, but they can have a massive effect on your overall comfort. Replacing those old doors and windows with high-performance ones will ensure that energy loss is greatly reduced, adding value to your property, ensuring that the future owners will be comfortable year-round, and updating the overall look and feel of your cottage. To maximize energy efficiency and comfort, consider replacing old windows with triple-glazed windows – especially if you will be selling your property as one that will be used year-round. Solid doors with a good seal, as well as new, non-wheezy screen doors are a good idea too.

Replace your old roof

If your roof is coming up on its useful lifespan, it’s time to start seriously thinking about replacing it. Replacing the roof of your cottage will increase its property value, giving potential buyers much less to worry about when making a purchase decision. The roof may simply need new shingles, or might require more significant repairs. In order to find out for certain, we recommend consulting a roofing company who will be able to give you concrete answers. Not only will a new roof mean less maintenance for potential buyers, but it’ll also increase its curb appeal – nobody likes pulling up to a property only to be met with peeling shingles in dire need of replacement.

Update the kitchen and bathrooms

Most experts recommend updating your kitchen and bathroom(s) before selling your property. These upgrades will increase property value, and refresh the interior of your cottage. In your kitchen, look at replacing things like countertops, cupboards and drawers, and upgrading old appliances to new energy efficient models to save on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. If you get mice, it may be worth having an exterminator in to plug any entrances they have before your renovations start to stave off any damage they may cause to your new kitchen.

In your bathroom, it’s recommended that you paint the walls, install new faucets and hardware, and potentially upgrade the shower and/or toilet for maximum effect. Adding premium touches like heated floors and a luxurious tub or shower can also go a very long way in upping the value of your property.

Make sure the plumbing and electrical is functional and up to code

Nobody wants to buy a cottage if they’re constantly going to be wrestling with the septic system and wiring. Before you decide to sell your property, it’s a good idea to ensure that everything is up to code. These things will inevitably come up during a home inspection and quickly change even the most eager buyer’s mind.

If your septic system isn’t working as well as it once did, now’s the time to upgrade it to ensure that the future owners won’t have to deal with a bad septic system every spring. Hiring an electrician to upgrade the wiring and ensure that everything is up to code is also a good idea, especially for older properties.

With the right amount of care and attention, you can easily turn your cottage into a four-season property, greatly increasing the property value and making it a highly attractive purchase for prospective buyers. Without renovating your cottage, you risk losing out on potential buyers, and even worse, you’ll be leaving thousands of dollars on the table.

Pick up around the lakefront

One of the main reasons people buy a cottage in Muskoka is so they can play in the water. If your lakefront is even rugged by Muskoka standards, trim back shrubs and make it look a bit neater. Now is the time to get rid of those plants that are growing through the slats in the stairs leading down to the water, and maybe slapping a new stain or neutral paint on that same stairway. As far as landscaping the rest of your property goes, it isn’t as important as your lakefront but you’ll want to make sure that any visible lawn is weed-free and mowed when your potential buyers come to visit.

Unsure? Have a home inspection done

If you aren’t sure which renovations will generate the most value for you, it’s worth paying for a visit from a home inspector. They’ll be able to give you a prioritized list of what you need to fix up before you sell. They’re used to conducting home inspections for buyers, so they know exactly what they’re looking for and can give you great recommendations that are customized for your property. Having a Realtor look at it is a good idea too, but a home inspector will be able to give you a more in-depth assessment.

To find out more about the energy efficient window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.