Preventing Fires at Your Cottage This Winter

Fire Prevention Week might be over, but the focus on fire safety and prevention should continue all year round. Fires can have life-altering consequences, especially when your personal property is involved. Accidents at your cottage can occur anytime during the year, especially in the winter after you’ve closed your cottage. Being away from the cottage for the season means that you have to think ahead when closing the cottage, taking the proper precautions to avoid the very real threat of fire.

Take a walk around your property

Before leaving your cottage for the season, take a walk around your property and perform an inspection. You should be paying particular attention to any power lines surrounding your home. If these lines look like they’re being threatened by growing tree branches, you’ll want to have them professionally cut or trimmed before you leave. If you don’t own the utility poles on your property, you’ll have to contact your hydro provider to trim branches for you. While you’re considering branches that are at risk of interfering with power lines, remember that they’ll be weighed down by accumulating snowfall and may pose more of a problem than they might currently appear to.

Turn everything off and clean up the cottage

The biggest cause of winter cottage fires is baseboard electric heaters that have been left on over the season. It’s important to turn your baseboard heaters off before leaving for the season to eliminate the threat of fire. If your cottage is heated using central heating or any other type of heating, remember to turn your system down to the lowest setting, or turn it off completely. Take a walk around the interior of your cottage and unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on over the winter.

If you plan on keeping the heat running at a low temperature or appliances plugged in, be sure to clear away any flammable material that may pose a hazard. Fire hazards might include papers, rags, clothing, fuel, firewood, combustibles, and anything else that could catch fire while you’re away. It’s also wise to clean your fireplace, chimney or wood stove if applicable, as it’ll save you time in the spring and reduce the chances of a fire breaking out after you reopen the cottage.

Consider a remote alarm system and proactive road maintenance

For Muskoka cottage owners who are still worried about the possibility of fire over the winter season, a number of alarm systems offer remote fire monitoring that can detect the outbreak of fires and alarm the nearest fire department. Taking proactive measures like this can greatly minimize damage to your property in the event of a fire. It’s also a good idea to consider what might happen if the road to your cottage isn’t taken care of over the season. Snow blockage can slow the approach of the fire department and other first responders to your cottage. In some cases, cottage country fire departments lack the equipment entirely to get into an unplowed road. If your road isn’t currently plowed during the winter season, it might be worth looking into regular road maintenance after storms and major snowfalls to ensure accessibility.

No matter what precautions you’ve taken before leaving your cottage for the winter, it’s recommended that you take photos of everything in and around the property. Doing this will make insurance claims far easier in the event of a fire, theft, or damage to the cottage.

For more information about the high-performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, visit our website or contact us today.

Winter Cottage Care: Snow Load on the Roof

When closing up cottages for the winter, most people set it and forget it. Unfortunately, this can lead to disastrous results, especially with the heavier snow loads that are expected to hit Ontario this winter, combined with colder than normal late-winter temperatures. This means that your cottage roof is going to be accumulating more snow and ice this year than usual. If you don’t intend on checking up on your cottage throughout the winter months, you may want to reconsider or be faced with an unpleasant surprise in the spring. Heavy snow and ice load on your roof can be enough to damage it, or even cause it to cave in. Here’s what you need to know about snow on your cottage roof.

How much snow is too much?
While this might seem like a simple question to answer, the truth is that there’s no definitive answer to how much snow on your roof is too much. Different roofs will be able to sustain longer periods of time with larger snow loads, and others will become damaged depending on the density and depth of the snow load. The slope of your roof is another important element, as steeply pitched roofs tend to throw snow off of them and avoid heavy drifts, whereas roofs with a slight pitch (or no pitch at all), allow for more significant accumulation of snow and the creation of large drifts.

The answer to this question will also depend on the age and condition of your roof and its components, and whether or not it’s been affected by snow accumulation in the past. While there’s no way to truly know how much snow your roof can handle, you can easily determine if your roof has been affected by a heavy snow load.

The signs of a damaged roof
One of the surefire ways to determine whether or not a snow load is affecting the integrity of your roof is to head to the attic and check on the condition of your rafters. If the rafters appear to be bent, there’s a good chance there’s too much snow on your roof. While you’re checking the attic, listen for any unusual sounds – if you’re hearing popping or cracking, it’s probably time to consult a professional. You can also look for signs of damage by checking if interior doors are sticking or have become difficult to open and close. If they have, the snow load on the roof is probably starting to distort your home’s door frames. Looking for new cracks in drywall is another way to spot damage.

Commit to removing snow, or find a contractor before it’s too late
The most effective way to avoid snow from damaging your roof is to periodically check in on your cottage throughout the season, removing snowdrifts whenever you feel is appropriate. This can be done by using a roof rake to pull accumulated snow and ice down from the roof while taking care not to damage the shingles or flashing. Remember that you don’t have to remove every inch of snow from your roof in order to get the job done – alleviating the snow load will do enough to prevent damage.

If you want to avoid the hassle of having to check on the cottage after each major snowfall or aren’t confident in your ability to remove snow from the roof, you might want to find a contractor to manage the snow load for you. If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to get in contact with somebody sooner rather than later. Schedules tend to fill up quickly during the winter, especially when snowfall is projected to be heavier than normal. Being proactive about hiring a contractor ensures that your cottage will be in good hands all winter, and will save you from having to make a day trip to the cottage. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, contact us today.

Closing Your Muskoka Cottage for the Winter

Whether you like it or not, the fall season has arrived, which means that you’ll have to start seriously thinking about closing up your cottage for the winter. Effectively closing your cottage ensures that it’ll be safe throughout the winter months, and will increase its longevity. Failure to close your cottage properly can result in serious damage to your property and a major headache in the spring. Here’s what you need to know about closing your Muskoka cottage for the winter season.

Take a look at the exterior and attend to the chores you’ve neglected
The first step to closing up your cottage for the winter is to take some time out of your day and examine the exterior of your cottage. Make sure that you clean and repair your gutters and take a look at the roof – heavy snowfall can wreak havoc on your cottage property if these things aren’t done proactively. While you’re on the roof, you might want to put a cap or cover over the chimney (if applicable) in order to keep pests from entering through the chimney. Take a walk around the property and look for any openings where pests can easily enter your home, and be sure to seal them to thwart any unwanted winter visitors.

Wrap the pipes, turn off the water and check the sump pump
The next step involves doing something that very few people want to do – you’ll need to go into your crawlspace to wrap any water pipes. Wrapping pipes is an essential part of winterizing the cottage, and will keep the pipes from freezing easily. Using foam or other insulating materials to wrap the pipes will allow you to continue visiting or using the cottage during the winter months, and will make re-opening the cottage in early spring much less of a headache. If you don’t plan on using the cottage over the winter, be sure to shut off the water and drain the pipes. Leave one faucet on to ensure that there’s no water in your pipes, otherwise they run the risk of bursting and causing serious damage.

Another crucial step in closing the cottage is to ensure that the sump pump and septic tank are in good working order. Without a working sump pump, there’s a good chance that your basement could flood over the winter, which could be disastrous for your property. If you’re planning to turn off the power for the winter, consider running the sump pump on a backup generator to cover any unexpected failures. If you haven’t serviced your septic tank in recent years, now might be the best time to do so, allowing you to have a much more relaxing experience when opening the cottage in the spring.

Unplug everything and turn down the heat
If you aren’t planning on visiting the cottage during the winter, there’s no reason to keep appliances plugged in and consuming phantom power. Go through the cottage and unplug anything that doesn’t need to be running over the winter. This will save you from unnecessarily high utility bills over the winter season. Some choose to power down the entire cottage for the season, but doing so runs the costly risk of sump pump failure. While you’re going through this step, turn down the heat in the cottage to ensure lower utility bills, while at the same time avoiding frost buildup in the cottage. If you have gas heating, turn it off before you leave.

Give your insurance company a call
Before you leave for the season, be sure to give your insurance company a call to ensure that you’ve done everything expected of you. Different providers will expect various things to be done before heading off for the winter,, so it’s a good idea to make sure you haven’t missed anything. This way, you’ll be covered in the event that anything disastrous happens, giving you peace of mind throughout the winter months.

What do I do with my windows and doors?
Windows generally don’t need much pre-winter maintenance. You’ll want to make sure they are closed properly, and that’s about it. If you have basement window wells, make sure water and melting snow are directed away from them so they don’t fill up during the Spring melt. For your doors, check the seals around them. If they look worn then replace them.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Should You Replace Your Windows Yourself?

Choosing to install replacement windows in your Muskoka cottage or home brings with it a wealth of benefits, including reduced energy bills and increased energy efficiency, a quieter home, and added aesthetic appeal. It’s often tempting for homeowners to choose to install their own replacement windows, but doing so can sometimes result in poor or improper installation, leading to reduced window performance. It’s important to not take this decision lightly because it can make such a profound difference in the look and performance of your windows. Before you choose whether to install your new windows yourself or hire the services of a professional, it’s recommended that you consider the following.

The argument for DIY window replacement

If you have experience in home renovations, you might naturally assume that you have the skills needed to replace your own windows. The process appears simple, especially if you already have the tools needed to get the job done. Doing your own installation will help you avoid expenses incurred by hiring a professional, as well as time spent looking for and communicating with an installation professional.

Before deciding to go the DIY route, take into account the amount of time you might save yourself by hiring a professional, and how complex the overall job is – how many windows are being replaced? What kind of windows are being installed? Do you know what to do if anything should go wrong during the installation? Installing your windows will also see you foregoing any installation warranty, which is another major consideration. You may quickly come to find that hiring a professional will be an easier, more time-consuming option.

The case for professional window replacement

A professional window installer is far more convenient than attempting to do it yourself, saving you countless hours of planning and labour, and the potential embarrassment that can come with a botched installation. It’s also important that your windows be installed properly to ensure that drafts don’t let air escape from or enter your home, and that moisture is controlled. An installation expert will be able to detect any problems in your new windows, and will know how to effectively seal them against the elements.

Window and door companies are well-versed in a wide variety of window types and have handled complex installations in the past, greatly increasing the chances that your installation will be correct the first time. A proper installation free of drafts will save you in future utility bills, as your furnace and air conditioner won’t have to keep up with fluctuating temperatures in your home. If your windows are faulty or mistakes are made in the installation process, your installation warranty will cover the work needed to fix the problems – performing the installation yourself won’t afford you this luxury. Your professionally installed windows will perform flawlessly for years to come, and you’ll be thanking yourself for not taking the much riskier DIY route.

The experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre make replacing your windows easy through expert consultation and superior product knowledge. No matter what the size or scope of your window replacement project, our team is ready to get the job done. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

5 Signs You Need New Windows

Too many people put off replacing the windows in their home until they have no other choice, which can cause damage inside your home and disrupt many aspects of your daily life. One of the major reasons why window replacements are often put off until the last minute is that most people just don’t know when it’s time to replace their windows, or aren’t aware of the many signs that indicate a window being on its last legs. Here are five of the surefire signs that it’s time to upgrade those drafty old windows.

1. You feel drafts and hear whistling wind

Drafts entering your home through old windows can drastically alter the temperature inside your home, which in turn affects your comfort and often results in higher heating and cooling bills. If you can feel a breeze coming from your window even when it’s closed or if you can feel cold air coming in from your window frame, your window is in rough shape and needs to be replaced. Hearing whistling through your windows on windy days is another major sign that you need to replace your windows, signaling that a major draft exists in your window frame.

2. Higher energy bills

When your windows aren’t working to keep your home warm or cool, the furnace or air conditioning will try to make up for the constantly fluctuating temperatures. If you’ve noticed that your energy bills have increased significantly, it may be due to drafty windows in your home causing your furnace or air conditioner to run when they’re not actually needed and waste energy. Wasted energy means that you’re flushing your money down the drain. Replacement windows will help to regulate the temperature in your home, keeping it cooler in the summertime and warmer during the winter, taking the burden off your utilities.

3. Condensation appears on your windows

Condensation appearing on your windows is one of the clearest signs that your windows need to be replaced. This generally happens during the colder months when warm air from inside your home meets with the cold glass on your windows to create condensation. The moisture generated by condensation can ruin window frames and create mold on your windowsills, even opening your home up to more substantial decay in your home’s wall cavities and attic. These potential major damages alone are more than enough to warrant installing new windows in your property. If you’ve noticed condensation between window panes, it could be a sign that the seal between panes is broken or not functioning correctly, which could necessitate replacing them.

4. Damaged window frames

When exposed to excess levels of moisture for prolonged periods, even the highest quality window frames and sills will succumb to rot or damage. Mold can also grow and thrive in damp frames and sills, leading to potential health complications and unsightly staining. If your window frames are showing signs of decay or have become damaged due to mold, it’s time to replace your windows.

5. Declining window performance

Your windows should open and close smoothly and reliably – if simple window operation has become a major strain on your daily routine, or if it feels like opening and closing your windows has started to replace your workout, you might want to consider installing new ones. Proper locking mechanisms is another essential thing to check for, both for the security they provide and for the added benefit of preventing air from escaping through your windows.

The experienced team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre make replacing your windows easy through expert consultation and superior product knowledge. No matter what you’re looking for, our team will help you find the perfect replacement windows for your home or cottage. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Preventing Flooding in a Window Well

Throughout the spring of 2019, the Muskoka region was impacted by flooding that forced some communities to declare a state of emergency. This flooding caused damage to homes, cottages, and businesses throughout the region, and caused thousands of dollars in damage throughout Muskoka.

With the threat of future floods looming, Muskoka cottage owners need to take proactive measures in order to be better prepared for floods, and to minimize damage to property. Preventing flooding in window wells is one of the best ways to protect your basement from flooding.

How window well flooding happens

Window wells are a great way to let natural light into the basement of a home or cottage, avoiding the “dungeon” look that often accompanies basements. They also go a long way to prevent damage to basement windows, and to allow a point for emergency escapes or entrances.

Water entering your home through basement window wells can be devastating to your property, causing damage to windows, walls, paint, furniture, and home appliances. Window wells usually flood when they’ve been improperly installed, or when they have inadequate drainage to deal with heavy amounts of water from flooding, heavy rain, or snow melt.

Maintaining window wells

Maintaining your window wells will help to extend their lifespan, and can prevent flooding caused by poor or no maintenance. It’s recommended that cottage owners regularly inspect the condition of window wells, especially in the fall and after winter seasons when damage is most common. Debris should be cleared from window wells immediately, as leaves, branches, and dirt can quickly create a blockage in window well drains. If drainage isn’t functioning properly, pooling and flooding will occur, leading to serious window damage and water making its way into your home.

In addition, the caulking on window well liners should be reapplied if it has started to pull away from the foundation. Extreme weather and excessive snow and ice load can lead to caulking being damaged or pulling away, and can lead to water and debris entering drainage holes. While inspecting your window wells, be sure to confirm that your window well cover is in good condition, that it meets safety standards, and can still be easily removed in the event of an emergency.

Preventing flooding in window wells

Before taking measures to ensure that your window wells won’t flood, it’s important to ensure that your windows have been carefully fitted in order to prevent water from entering your windows – even the smallest gaps in the frame can let in large amounts of water. Once you’ve ensured the correct fit of the window and that gaps have been filled, one of the recommended preventative measures, especially during ongoing flooding, is to cover your ground level windows up using plywood and a rubber hose, as detailed here. Covering up your windows will ensure that they aren’t damaged by the increased pressure from the presence of water, and from floating objects.

Installing a dry well is another effective measure to direct water away from your windows and the foundation of your cottage. This can be done by digging a trench to direct excess water into, or by directing the water towards a sump pump that will pump water away from your cottage’s foundation. A contractor can do it, or you can rent the equipment to do it yourself.

Since 1988, Muskoka Window & Door Centre has helped customers see Muskoka as was meant to be seen with high performance window and door products. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, contact us today.

The Enduring Popularity of Boathouses in Muskoka

Boathouses have become a major part of the Muskoka shoreline – these prominent structures often rival the size and style of the main cottage, housing boats and watercraft of all types. The popularity of boathouses in the region has endured since cottagers have been making their way to Muskoka, becoming more grandiose and iconic over time. If you own a cottage in Muskoka or are looking into buying one, you may be thinking about investing in a boathouse to perfectly complement your property and add another beautiful structure to the Muskoka shoreline.

An iconic part of the Muskoka landscape
Many of Muskoka’s beautiful cottages feature prominent boathouses on their shores, creating a striking image for anybody new to the region. These pervasive structures have truly stood the test of time, with cottage owners being proud to show off their boathouses. Some owners have even gone as far as converting their boathouse into something far more versatile, with many spanning two stories – space for boats and watercraft on the first floor, and second-floor apartments that feature bedrooms, kitchen space, bathrooms, and living space.

Often, these lavish boathouses act as guesthouses for visitors or renters, giving guests the opportunity to experience accommodations that are truly unique to the Muskoka region. As time has passed, bylaws and regulations have changed throughout the region, limiting what cottage owners can do with their boathouses when looking to build or renovate.

What you need to be aware of when building or renovating your boathouse
Bylaws regarding boathouses vary throughout the Muskoka region – this can get very confusing, as different municipalities situated on the same lake will feature different regulations. Some areas like Huntsville, Bracebridge, and Gravenhurst allow for one story boathouses. Areas like Muskoka Lakes Township allow for boathouses to be built with living quarters on the second floor, but Muskoka Lakes is currently the only municipality in the Muskoka region that allows sleeping quarters to be featured in boathouses. Cottagers living on Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, and Lake Rosseau are permitted to build boathouses up to two stories high.

In Bracebridge, boathouses are allowed up to 15 meters from the shoreline, with Gravenhurst requiring that three quarters of the shoreline remain in its natural state. If you have a boathouse that doesn’t fit the established bylaws in your area, you may be grandfathered in due to the previous regulations in your location. If in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to check with the bylaws in your town or municipality to ensure that you can build or renovate the boathouse of your dreams. Parks Canada also has a number of policies relating to the construction of boathouses.

Getting the right windows for your Muskoka boathouse
Cottagers who are lucky enough to have a beautiful boathouse on their property naturally want to frame the spectacular view from the boathouse. Large windows are the best way to accomplish this. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your boathouse windows are in good shape in order to withstand the varying weather conditions of the Muskoka region.

Without the proper windows in your boathouse, you run the risk of letting moisture, pests, and the elements in, resulting in damages and creating an environment where mold will thrive. This can pose a safety hazard for anybody spending any significant amount of time in your boathouse, and will significantly reduce the lifespan of your boathouse. Remember to check for leaks and drafts in your windows, especially those situated in living spaces within your boathouse – this will allow you to tackle moisture and other problems proactively, and get the most out of your Muskoka property. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

Mold Detection & Prevention at Your Muskoka Cottage

Mold is present wherever there’s moisture. Mold exposure can cause serious health complications in people who are sensitive or allergic to mold, or those who have pre-existing lung illnesses. Mold can also wreak havoc on your property, growing rapidly wherever moisture is present, including on windows, roofs, pipes, ceiling tiles, drywall, and many other areas. When mold makes its way into your home, it reduces indoor air quality, causes stains that are persistent and difficult to remove, and creates unpleasant odours. In order to avoid mold problems in your Muskoka cottage, it’s important to understand how to identify that you have a mold problem, and know how you can prevent them from occurring.

How to tell if your cottage has a mold problem

Despite the potential health problems, staining and odor caused by mold problems, it can be difficult to detect mold in your cottage – especially because mold isn’t always immediately apparent. If you’re trying to detect mold around your cottage, you’ll want to begin with damp areas such as leaky windows, basements, carpeting, and drywall that has been exposed to moisture. 

The most telling sign of mold is the staining that is often present with mold outbreaks. Mold will often contain dark blooms on or around windows, walls, and furniture, leaving a dark stain that few surfaces are immune to. Mold will often carry with it a distinct musty or earthy smell, helping you narrow down where the problem is coming from. If water damage has affected walls, window sills, or other areas where paint exists, it will cause cracking, blistering, or peeling, and cause drywall to “bulge” out or appear warped – mold will often be found underneath or around this water damage.

Remember that whenever you’re dealing with mold, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take the proper precautions, even if you aren’t allergic or sensitive to mold. Wear gloves, masks, and gloves whenever working to protect yourself.

What to do to prevent mold in your Muskoka cottage

The most effective way to prevent mold from growing and spreading in your cottage is to take control of the indoor humidity and airflow in your property. This can be done by using dehumidifiers and fans, or simply by keeping your windows open – ventilation is especially important with bathrooms, laundry rooms, or any room with a source of running water or where laundry is hung to dry.

In addition to controlling humidity, it’s critical to prevent water from entering your home. You can do this by ensuring that your gutters are maintained and cleaned regularly, and that snow is shovelled away from your cottage, especially during the later winter months. Ensuring that the ground around your cottage slopes away from its foundation is also important, as it’ll keep rainfall and snowmelt from entering your property through its foundation. Eliminating leaks caused by old and damaged windows and doors is crucial, as is ensuring that the weather stripping around windows and doors is replaced when it begins to look worn. 

It goes without saying that wet feet are almost always going to be a presence in a cottage, so removing any carpeting and replacing it with hardwood flooring is a good idea for long-term mold prevention; plus it makes your cottage easier to maintain. Who wants to vacuum at the cottage? 

Mold can wreak havoc on window and door frames, causing them to break down and creating unsightly stains. The team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre has years of experience in dealing with windows and doors being affected by mold problems. If you think that your windows or doors have been damaged by mold, contact us today for an assessment and advice on the best course of action.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website.

Hacks to Keep Your Cottage Cool This Summer

After a painfully long and unpredictable winter season, warm weather is finally here. With warmer months, though, comes sweaty days and nights searching desperately for relief. Though you can crank the air conditioner or run fans day and night, this can come at a hefty price – there are plenty of cheaper ways to escape the heat. If you don’t own an air conditioner or are looking to save money on utilities throughout the summer months, here are a few ways you can keep your cottage cool this summer.

Control air circulation with your doors

One way to prevent your cottage from overheating is to close off any unused rooms throughout the day to ensure that cool air stays where it’s supposed to, instead of circulating throughout the entire cottage. Opening your doors during the night will allow cool air to naturally circulate throughout the cottage, letting you take advantage of cool nights. Playing it smart and better controlling the circulation of air will keep you cooler during the coming summer months.

Make use of window coverings

This is another simple but very effective way to keep it cool throughout the summer. Throughout the daytime hours, keeping your blinds, curtains, shades, and other window coverings closed is a great way to keep heat out, lowering the temperature in your cottage significantly and helping you save a great deal on utilities. This method works best windows that face south and west, and especially when using blackout blinds or curtains, which go a long way in naturally insulating your rooms. When buying blackout window coverings, be sure to look for medium colours and plastic backings for best results.

Open your windows at night

While this method may seem obvious to many, it’s often overlooked by cottage owners looking to escape the heat. Opening your windows wide and drawing back coverings during the night will allow the cool night air to enter into your cottage and circulate naturally, reducing the temperature inside and keeping you cool while you sleep. Be sure to keep your doors open to allow the cool air to permeate throughout your home – a great way to maximize this is by setting a fan by the window to blow the cool air around. Remember to close them and draw the shades early in the morning to avoid the scorching morning sun.

Take your cooking outdoors whenever possible

Your stove or oven can be a huge source of heat during the summer months, turning indoor cooking into a risky affair on hotter days. The best solution is to take your cooking outdoors whenever possible, taking full advantage of the warm weather by using your grill to prepare food. Not only does grilling keep the heat outdoors where it belongs, but it also lets you make meals fun and delicious without heating up your kitchen and the rest of your cottage.

Other easy and effective hacks to help you keep cool this summer

  • Run the bathroom exhaust fan for longer than you normally would after taking a shower or bath
  • Turn off or limit the use of incandescent light bulbs
  • Use household appliances at night when possible
  • Make sure ceiling fans are spinning counter-clockwise

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.

The Pitfalls and Benefits of Renting Out Your Cottage on Airbnb

Since 2008, Airbnb has been helping users find or host short-term home, room, and cottage rentals around the world. The service currently lists millions of properties in nearly 200 countries, operating more than a dozen offices all around the world. Renting out your Muskoka cottage can present opportunities for earning extra supplementary income, but comes with its own unique drawbacks and pitfalls that you may want to consider before publishing your listing.

Extra income: the only “pro” to being an Airbnb host

The biggest – and only – advantage to owning a rental property is the amount of supplementary income you can earn. This is undoubtedly the main motivator in listing your property on a service like Airbnb, or hosting any long or short term tenant. This extra income can go a long way in helping you pay for mortgage and insurance expenses, or for paying for much needed improvements and repairs to your cottage. Depending on the success of your listing and the frequency of rentals, the extra income earned can greatly improve your quality of life, helping you pay off your mortgage or add new additions to the cottage.

Your time is valuable, make sure you can commit

The first major drawback to listing your cottage on a service like Airbnb is that it can very quickly start to eat up a great deal of your free time. The online nature of Airbnb means that you’ll have to be checking in frequently to respond to inquiries, as well as messaging back and forth with guests about details like arrival information and other important details.

Should your guests experience issues during their stay at the cottage, you’ll need to be on-hand or have someone lined up to solve them in a timely matter, or else be faced with a negative guest review. Another time-consuming aspect is that you may feel it’s necessary to be around the cottage when guests arrive, which can very quickly become disruptive and erratic. This can, however, be eliminated by installing a keypad for entry. You’ll also have to check the property after the guests have left in order to conduct a quick clean-up and inspection, which can take up a good deal of time if you host guests on a regular basis.

While cleaning services can be hired to do this, they are often few and far between in Muskoka and booked in advance; they aren’t available on a moment’s notice like they are in the city. If you can find one that can regularly clean your cottage after guests, it will be expensive but worth it if you can’t be there yourself.

Insurance implications can get complicated

Let’s be honest. Hosting complete strangers in your home or cottage will always bring with it at least a minor amount of risk. Your property can be damaged, guests can get unruly, and mistakes can happen. While the Airbnb Host Guarantee provides protection for up to $1,000,000 against property damage, it doesn’t cover cash, collectibles, jewelry, pets, or personal liability. You’ll also want to look into property insurance that covers short-term rentals, as standard property insurance doesn’t apply to these situations. Airbnb is very clear that the Host Guarantee program isn’t designed to replace homeowners or renters insurance, and strongly suggests that hosts understand the terms of their insurance agreement before hosting guests. While this insurance is available as an extra rider, it is usually not in a regular homeowners policy.

Not a consistent source of income

Finally, Airbnb is unfortunately nowhere near as consistent as hosting a long-term tenant is, although it does bring with it the advantage of you not having to be a landlord and therefore subject to the tenant-favouring Residential Tenancies Act in Ontario. Guests come and go, and dry periods are almost inevitable during seasons that don’t see a heavy influx of tourists. With Airbnb and other short-term rental services, you’ll never be certain just how much income you’ll be able to generate, although if you have a property on one of the major lake systems in Muskoka you can pretty much bank on it being filled during the summer months.

If you’re looking to use Airbnb as a long-term income supplementation strategy, you may want to consider other avenues that are more consistent or easier to predict, unless you have a second cottage in the area that you can stay at regularly and don’t have to work too far away during the summer months when you will have the highest volume of guests. One way you can make the property more attractive in the fall, winter, and spring is to ensure that it is nice and toasty inside. If you have windows that are getting old, this can be difficult, and that’s where we come in.

For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high quality line of window and door products, visit our website or contact us today.