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How does maintaining a cottage differ from a “regular” house?

Ontario cottage country has long been known as a coveted destination and the recent real estate boom continues to drive a steady stream of house-hunters to the Muskoka market. But for many of these purchasers, it’ll be the first time they’ve owned a cottage, rather than a house, and cottages come with their own unique quirks and considerations.

Are you closing it for the season? What about the water system? How’s it heated? There’s lots to think about before investing in a Muskoka cottage and savvy buyers do their homework. Being prepared will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises post-purchase so you can relax and enjoy your beautiful new home. 

Utilities

Utilities are one of the most important considerations when moving from an urban area to a rural. For many new Muskoka homeowners, used to city services, it can be an adjustment to suddenly switch to well water or wood stoves.

Many cottages in the area are supplied by their own wells and operate on a septic system. If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to get the well water tested and the septic system inspected before buying. 

Some local municipalities offer a free well water testing that covers the basics but you can also pay a little more for a comprehensive test from a private lab. Septic tanks should be pumped every four years, so be sure to check the date of its last clean. And be careful what goes down your pipes – use septic-safe paper and avoid harsh drain cleaners. 

Pay attention to your new cottage’s heating source too. There’s more variety in rural areas, with some relying on oil, others choosing gas, and some opting for a hybrid system. The last thing you want in the depths of the freezing Muskoka winter is a furnace failure so it’s wise to invest in a back-up heat source, such as a wood stove. You may also want to consider a generator as the power supply is less reliable outside the city and your cottage could be without power for some time if there’s a bad winter storm.

Maintenance

Maintaining your cottage means more than just keeping it beautiful with a fresh coat of paint every so often. Safeguarding your features, fixtures and fittings against the lake country weather is a year-round job.

Given the dampness of the Muskoka area, wood rot is a common issue so take a close look at wooden window and door frames – it’s better to catch this invader in the early stages before it gains a foothold and spreads.

Regularly check your property for any leaks, cracks, or gaps. Improperly sealed windows and doors let the heat out, driving up your energy bills, and invite critters in. From bugs to raccoons, there’s a lot of cottage country residents you don’t want in your house. 

And don’t overlook the outdoors! Are there any landscaping features that will need continual upkeep? Is there a dock or other waterfront features that need to be maintained? 

Seasonal shutdown

As any Canadian knows, a big part of home maintenance is getting ready for winter. If you’re shutting your Bracebridge bolthole for the season, you need to make sure it’ll be safe and secure all winter long. 

Look for wood warping, unsealed areas, worn pipes, unstable trees – anything indoors and out that could endanger your property in the cold months.

If you’ve decided to brave the blizzards and stick around, make sure you won’t literally be stuck – check the access to your property and whether your local authorities provide plowing and emergency services in your area. Some are zoned as seasonal and largely ignored by their municipality until everything re-opens in spring.

Future plans

If you’re hoping to do any renovations or upgrades to your cottage, plan them carefully. 

The first step is checking local bylaws to see if you can make the changes you want and the second is finding a reliable contractor. Where possible, pick a local firm – these contractors know the area and will bring all that invaluable experience and expertise to your project.

Family-owned and operated, Muskoka Window and Door Centre has been helping cottage country homeowners maintain, renovate, and beautify their properties for over two decades. Contact our team today to see how we can help you make the most of your new home. 

Getting Your Muskoka Cottage Rental Ready

Flooded with city dwellers chasing staycations and tourists checking out prospective property purchases, the Muskoka area has been unusually active this season.

Capitalizing on this renewed interest, many residents are moving into the rental market but making that leap can be intimidating. Getting your home ready for guests needn’t be a hassle, however. With a bit of advance preparation, you can earn your extra income worry-free while introducing newcomers to the beauty of the Muskokas.

7 tips to prepare for renting

1. Check the rules

Before opening your door to renters, check your local bylaws. Most Muskoka areas allow short-term rentals but have their own protocol around how they’re managed. 

For example, the Town of Huntsville operates a Short-Term Rental Accommodation program that requires property owners to get a licence if they want to rent for 28 days or less. And last year Gravenhurst announced it would be implementing a similar program.

2. Think about how you’re marketing your property, and to whom

Experienced renters know that there are various ways to rent your property so don’t fall into the trap of heading straight for AirBnB. 

Home exchanges provide a more formal alternative. These are generally longer-term stays so property owners have a chance to develop a relationship with their renters and both parties tend to be more forgiving. 

It’s important to consider beforehand who you want in your property, and what they might need. If you’re renting to a family, is your home kid-friendly? Are you willing to accept pets? Do your renters need any special accommodations e.g for a disability? Find out beforehand so everyone knows where they stand.

3. Clear your clutter

Once your rental is booked it’s time to get busy! Start by moving all personal items and other clutter to a storage unit or your primary residence if there’s room. This not only makes it easier for renters to unpack and settle in, it also minimizes the risk of them damaging your belongings.

4. Clean up!

Don’t forget to clean up before guests arrive. It sounds obvious but many property owners forget this step or do a hurried wipe over visible surfaces and call it a day. 

Invest in a professional cleaning service to make sure everything’s as clean as possible and your renters will appreciate the extra attention to detail – especially given the recent pandemic.

5. Leave a guide for your renters

Every house is different, with its own quirks and oddities. You can’t expect your renters to automatically know how everything works so spell it out for them. 

Leave clear instructions on your utilities – covering water, heat, internet, TV, and anything else people need to know when living in your space. 

Creating a guide for renters is also a great opportunity to go the extra mile. You may want to include a section on local amenities, sharing your knowledge as a local so they can quickly get to know the area. Little touches like this will help you attract repeat business.

6. Troubleshoot in advance

If you’ve been procrastinating on any repairs, now’s the time to tackle those jobs. Renters will expect everything in your home to work properly and shouldn’t be put in the position of having to call someone for a repair job or, worse, attempt their own DIY fix.

Operate from the principle of ‘what can go wrong, will go wrong’ and cast a critical eye over your home before opening it up to guests.

7. Don’t forget the exterior

Your renters aren’t coming to the Muskokas to sit inside all day. Expect them to make full use of the entire property. 

This means the exterior has to be as sparkling clean as the interior. Wash off any decking, mow the grass, pick up the leaves, clean the hot tub, and don’t forget to warn your renters of any potential hazards like a steep drop to the water or a deep pond. 

 

If you’re thinking about renting, you want your cottage to look its best. The experienced team at Muskoka Window and Door Centre can help you tackle any repairs or renovations, providing professional service, quality products, and post-project customer support. Contact us today to see how we can transform your property!

Need New Windows? Choose a Cottage Country Contractor

As the summer season ramps up, many homeowners are thinking about giving their Muskoka cottage a new look

But where to start? Whether you want to upgrade your windows, try out a new style, or simply do some much-needed maintenance, you need a contractor you can trust.

With so many of Muskoka’s seasonal residents hailing from the city, it’s tempting to hunt around the GTA for a big firm that makes big promises. But if you really want the most for your dollar, and the best quality work, it’s worth shopping locally.

Reasons to stay local

1. Cost

Everyone has a budget in mind when they embark on renovations. New windows are a great investment in your lakefront home, but they come at a cost and that cost can quickly skyrocket when using contractors who aren’t familiar with the area.

City contractors often charge more in labor costs to offset the logistics of working in a partially remote area like the Muskokas. They’re also not as connected to the local construction network so may have difficulty sourcing the best materials for the best price. 

2. Expenses

Another hidden cost that may sink your bottom line is expenses. Sending contractors north means covering their travel, accommodation if they need it, and other expenses – all of which will show up on your final bill.

3. Local lore

Local contractors know the Muskokas. From Gravenhurst to Huntsville and Bracebridge to Georgian Bay, they’ve lived and worked in these communities for decades. 

That means they’re intimately familiar with the area’s challenges and pitfalls. They know the best type of glass to keep out the lakefront winds, they can find the best local materials at the cheapest price, and they can help you design your home in a way that complements the Muskoka landscape.

Contractors that live here year-round have an appreciation for the Muskoka climate, and what it can do to a home. They’re your cottage’s best defence against winter, casting an experienced eye over potential troublespots where chilly winds could invade your home or snow seep in.

And if you’re new to the area, local suppliers are an invaluable resource for getting to know your second home. They can give you the lowdown on the best activities, eateries, and shops – all the hidden gems that only a local knows.

4. Trained & trusted

Muskoka Windows & Door Centre is a family-owned firm, born and raised in the Muskoka area. Our team prides itself on its reputation for sterling service and local expertise. Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of homeowners create their picture-perfect lakeside retreat – bringing our local knowledge, experience and skills to every project. 

 

We don’t use subcontractors, only our fully trained and trusted team, giving you peace of mind while we work on your property. It’s not too early to think about your spring or summer project – book now before spots fill up and get a guaranteed start date for your renovations. You can’t prepare for everything 2022 will bring, but you can at least ensure there are no leaky windows in your future!

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Deck?

One of the best things about the summer season is finally being able to spend sunny afternoons and warm evenings on the deck. Whether you’re reading in your favourite patio chair or spending time with your loved ones enjoying a drink or some great BBQ, there’s something magical about time spent on the deck. Unfortunately, wood decks have a bad habit of decaying over time and bringing the party to a halt, requiring repairs or replacement so that you can continue enjoying it for many more years.

 

If your deck is showing signs of aging, it might be time to consider replacing it to redefine your outdoor space and create the ultimate area for relaxation and entertaining guests. While the summer season may be over, that doesn’t mean you can’t get started on planning next year’s big deck renovation, especially now that lumber prices are finally returning to normal. If you’re unsure whether or not your deck needs to be replaced, here are some common signs that your deck needs to be replaced sooner rather than later.

 

Damaged or rotting deck boards

The first thing you should look for when analyzing the condition of your deck is also the most obvious sign that it’ll need to be replaced – damaged boards. If you notice that the surface of your deck has sustained serious or extensive damage, you should at the very least consider replacing the affected boards as soon as possible.

 

Damaged boards will feature cracks and splinters, mold growth, visible rot, and other signs of obvious damage. Boards are usually damaged by the presence of wood rot, long term water exposure, mold growth, and damage from wear and tear or weather events. If the damage is affecting a large surface area of your deck, you might not have a choice but to replace it outright.

 

Wobbly boards and unsteady railings

After you’ve given the surface of your deck a good hard look, take a walk around it to feel how steady it feels under your feet. If you can feel the boards wobbling and moving as you walk, it’s extremely likely that widespread damage has set in, requiring a full replacement. It’s also a good idea to take a look at your deck from a few feet away from it, where you’ll be able to see if it’s sagging or appears to be warped. If it is, the most likely culprit is damage to the substructure of your deck, indicating that the posts or support beams have seen better days. Like a wobbling deck, a sagging deck will require a full replacement as soon as possible, otherwise the chance of further damage and possible injuries to you and your loved ones is greatly increased.

 

Another less severe sign of damage is loose or unsteady railings. Unsteady railings can be extremely dangerous, making it a serious safety risk for loved ones and guests. While this can be quite an easy fix, unsteady or loose railings often come hand in hand with other serious issues, generally making it easy to go about replacing the deck entirely instead of repairing it each and every season.

 

Deck posts just aren’t cutting it anymore

Your deck posts are the most important part of your deck – if they’ve become damaged by rot or age, they’re not going to do an adequate job holding up your deck. If your deck posts have begun to lose integrity and are showing signs that they could fail in the near future, it’s critical that you replace your deck immediately. Failure to do so will mean that your deck is sitting on an unstable foundation, greatly increasing the chances of catastrophic failure and injury to anybody who uses the deck.

 

If your posts are still in good working order but you notice water pooling around them, it’s highly recommended that you consult a deck building professional to help you divert the water away from the posts to avoid future rot and damage.

 

Choosing the right replacement materials

If you’ve decided to rebuild your deck, it’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of the different decking materials available. The type of materials you choose will decide how long your new deck lasts, how practical it will be, how much it’ll elevate the look of your backyard, and how budget-friendly it’ll be.

 

For an inexpensive and classic deck feel, you can choose to use natural wood materials for a durable deck that’ll look beautiful for years to come. Alternatively, pressure-treated lumber is a budget-friendly option that will resist moisture and rot for some time.

 

For those looking for something a little different, composite decking and plastic decking materials offer a unique look using recycled plastic and wood fibers or just plastic materials, offering a long-lasting, but less affordable, option. Both of these materials are durable, easy to maintain, and don’t require time consuming staining, sealing or sanding.

 

Finally, some homeowners have turned to aluminum decking materials for the same long-lasting and low-maintenance appeal, but these decks typically carry with them a highly industrial appearance which may not suit your backyard area.

 

While redoing your deck, think about your windows too! Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s number one provider of high quality window and door products. Our showroom is home to some of the industry’s very best brands, including products by Andersen, Ostaco, BigFoot, Centor, and other leading names in doors and windows. To find out how our talented team of installation experts can help put that finishing touch on your home or cottage with high performing energy efficient windows and doors, get in touch with us today.

Keep Your Muskoka Windows Beautiful: Stop Wood Rot Before it Starts

Your beautiful Muskoka cottage deserves to look its best, but in lakeside conditions it’s not always easy to keep things ship shape.

Unsightly invaders like wood rot are unfortunately a common issue in Ontario’s cottage country. All those lakes might make for stunning scenery, but they’re not kind to wooden window frames which can buckle, swell, and rot in the damp air.

The tell tale signs of wood rot

Newer homes are increasingly using rot-resistant materials to combat this problem, but older cottages still tend to favor wood frames for their beautifully natural look.

Your Georgian Bay getaway or Huntsville home may look the part with its cedar sills and oak frames, but vigilant homeowners know that wood requires careful upkeep to maintain its glossy finish.

Knowing you have a problem, or the beginnings of a problem, is the first step. Watch your windows for any sign of decay – prompt action can prevent the rot from spreading and doing long-lasting, severe damage.

It’s not always easy to spot wood rot. Damage frequently starts from within the frame so by the time it’s noticeable, you may have a bigger problem than you think. Start by gently pressing a screwdriver or other tool against the frame. If the wood appears soft or spongy, it’s likely rotted.

Another red flag is chipped or peeling paint. As the first line of defence against the elements, this coating is the first thing to go and leave your wood vulnerable.

Pay particular attention to the corners and bottom half of the frame, especially if they’re exposed to the elements i.e. without a covering or overhang. This is where problems frequently start.

If in doubt, book a consultation with an experienced window installation firm as they can assess the damage and provide options about how to treat and protect your frames.

Window repair and replacement

 

If rot’s the culprit, it’s time to act. Rotted frames won’t just ruin the look of your house, they can also cause your frames to warp, leak and develop mold. They’ll also drive up your energy bills, making it harder to heat or cool your home.

And don’t forget pests – crafty critters can exploit the holes made by rot to come inside and cause havoc in your home.

If the damage is still relatively small, you can do a few DIY fixes like plugging holes with wood filler, repainting and/or adding a wood insert. Just be sure to completely clean out the area, as leaving any rot behind will derail your home improvement efforts.

In situations where the rot has progressed, it might be time to call in the experts. Replacing your windows is often the best option but it’s important not to choose a retrofit solution. Putting new panes into damaged frames is obviously a risky proposition.

Muskoka Window and Door Centre doesn’t just install windows, our team of experts also replaces rotted frames so you can be sure your new windows will last for years to come. We work with the industry’s top manufacturers to offer you the latest styles, products, and materials that don’t just look great, they’re also weather-resilient and reliable. Contact us today to see how we can transform your holiday home.

How Muskoka Winters Ravage Windows & Doors – and How to Stop It

You may be able to flee winter, but your home can’t. So if you’re packing up for the season it’s important to make sure every part of your property is winter-proof before heading south.

The frost, ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures that blast off-season cottage country can wreak havoc on your windows and doors. From leaks and structural issues to wood warping and paint damage, it doesn’t take long for mother nature to make her presence felt.

Seasoned homeowners know that you can’t be too cautious when winterizing the house. Prepare now and you won’t have to worry about any unwelcome surprises when you step through the door in spring.

Seal up drafts where present

One of the first steps in preparing your home for winter is assessing its defences. Now’s the time to take care of any suspected leaks before they do lasting damage.

Weather stripping isn’t invincible, nor does it last forever. If your windows and doors have been in place for decades, it’s possible that they’re no longer as weather-resistant as they once were. Proper installation and maintenance can help keep them secure.

Carefully inspect every window and door, applying sealant if necessary. If the situation is too far gone, you might want to consider upgrading your frames and windows.

Watch your wood for warping

A common cause of leaks is warping. This happens when temperatures and humidity levels fluctuate and is especially common with wood products. The wood absorbs the moisture, swells and becomes permanently distorted.

Some types of wood are hardier than others so if you’re upgrading your windows or doors it pays to know your product. Fir, cedar and redwood are all good choices as they’re more water-resistant and therefore less likely to bow or crack.

If your wood frames are already in place, you can protect them by coating them with a winter treatment. There are loads of options on the market for a quick DIY short-term solution.

Over the long-term, you may consider switching up your wood for a more winter-appropriate solution.

Aluminum, vinyl, fibreglass, coated wood – market innovation means you’ve lots of options when it comes to selecting materials that don’t just look good, but are also more winter-hardy.

Don’t overlook the hardware

Conscientious cottage owners don’t just think about frames and panes this time of year. They also pay close attention to the hardware – locks, shutters and screens.

These small details can become big problems. Locks can freeze, shutters can stick, and screens can ice over.

Follow the three Cs to stop damage before it starts:

Check – Unroll your shutters, pull down any screens, peer into your locks. The pre-winter routine should include checking for any damage, holes, or clutter in and around your windows and doors.

Clear – Remove any debris as this can freeze up in winter and lead to iced-over locks and stuck screens.

Clean – Thoroughly wash out your locks and clean your screens to remove any traces of dirt that could ice up and damage your hardware.

A particularly severe winter is coming

The Farmers Almanac is predicting a particularly severe winter for 2021-22, with a ‘winter whopper’ forecast for parts of Ontario and chilly temperatures expected through to late March.

So if you’ve been procrastinating on a repair job or delaying some much-needed maintenance, now’s the time to tidy up and get those jobs done.

The team at Muskoka Windows & Door Centre has helped local homeowners through decades of winters. Our family-owned firm has been a fixture in the Muskokas for generations and no-one knows cottage country like we do. Contact us today so we can help you prepare for whatever winter brings.  

Now’s the Perfect Time to Plan your Next Cottage Renovation

Summer’s on the wane, which means cottage season is drawing to a close. But savvy Muskoka home and cottage owners know it’s never too early to plan their next renovation project.

From choosing designs to finalizing the small details, home improvement takes time. Starting well in advance will keep you from rushing into upgrades that’ll leave you with a bad case of the reno regrets.

Book early to secure your spot

Ontario cottage country is a busy place even in a normal year, and this year’s been anything but normal.

Urban dwellers flooded to the lakes in 2021 as pandemic restrictions limited most Canadians to staycations. Seeking respite from the city, cottagers embraced Muskoka’s natural charms but not everyone was content to lounge by the lake.

Many turned their attention to upgrades and improvements, giving the local construction industry a much-needed boost, but contributing to the rising demand for labour and materials. Ask anyone in the area who wanted a job done this year and they’ll tell you – the best in the business were either completely unavailable or working through a huge backlog of clients.

That heightened demand shows no signs of slowing, so it’s a good idea to prepare now if you’re looking to spruce up your Muskoka cottage for 2022. In addition, lumber prices are plummeting, so locking in a price with a contractor now for anything which involves lumber is a good idea economically. 

If you’re looking to redesign your doors, update your windows or simply keep up with the latest styles and specialty products, we can help. 

Muskoka Window and Door Centre has been helping cottage owners with their renovations and home improvement projects for over three decades. Family-owned and operated, we have the experience and know-how to help you realize your vision and bring your dream cottage to life.

We partner with leading North American manufacturers such as Andersen, Bigfoot, and Ostaco to give you a range of choices, from on-trend awnings to the latest sliding door technology. Industry trendsetters, these partners are carefully selected by us to deliver the highest quality products for your home, no matter the size or scope of your project.

 

Off-season opportunities are abundant

Muskoka Window and Door Centre is very well established in the area, so our slots fill up quickly. Most clients book in fall for spring projects, or contact us in early spring for summer jobs. Book with us now, however, and you can have your pick of installation dates in 2022. 

You can even get a jump on renovations by starting in the off-season. Our team works year-round to suit your schedule. We’ve the resources, the experience, and the expertise to fit your windows and doors even in the depths of winter when the snow’s falling. In fact, some homeowners prefer to book upgrades when they’re not at home, finding it more convenient to have the work done in their absence.

If you like the sound of stepping through a new and improved front door in spring, get in touch with us today to talk dates and get started on your Muskoka home or cottage makeover.

 

How to Remove Water Spots from Windows

If you live or play in Muskoka, you know how frustrating it is to achieve a stain-free window, as 

hard water stains can easily build up over time. A normal cleaning process involving water, detergent, a rug, or squeegee is simply not enough in removing hard water spots. Instead, you’ll likely need to use one or more of the following methods to maximize your views this summer season. Here are some of the best ways to rub water marks off your windows: 

 

Using a vinegar solution

Vinegar solutions are an easy and effective way to remove any hard water spots from your windows. First, you need to fill a squirt bottle with half water and half plain white distilled vinegar and spray it onto the glass to fully saturate any stubborn hard water stains. Then, soak a rag in the vinegar solution and lightly scrub your window. Once you are done, remove the solution from your window with a paper towel or squeegee and follow it up with a wipe with glass cleaner to prevent additional stains and residue. 

 

Using other natural products

In case you need a substitute for vinegar, there are other natural alternatives you can use as a cleaning solution. Fresh lemon juice has the same acidic properties as vinegar, and can be equally effective for removing water spots from your windows. As odd as it may sound, you can even use toothpaste to get your windows squeaky clean and streak-free. Following the same process, apply either ingredient to your windows and lightly scrub them away with a rag soaked in water, using traditional glass cleaner afterwards to remove residue. 

 

Using abrasive cleaners

Abrasive cleaners such as baking soda are powerful cleaning agents you can use to remove stubborn, tough stains from your windows. First, wet the surface of the glass so that the water and the cleaner can form a sort of cleaning paste – this prevents scratches. Next, spread the paste onto the window and vigorously scrub the glass with a rag. Then, rinse the cleaner away with water and dry your clean windows – following up with glass cleaner if necessary – to prevent additional residue. Your window glass will almost look invisible when you’re done.

Water spots on your windows are difficult to remove, and do require special techniques to clean. If your windows are run-down even after a good scrub, then it may be time to replace them. Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s preferred supplier of high quality window products. Our expert team is ready to take on new window installation projects of any size or scope. For more information on our products and services, get in touch with us today and book your free estimate. 

Check with Local Bylaws Before Doing Muskoka Renovations

Any project at home is exciting, whether you’re building a new deck, installing a new fence, or even just doing some tree removal, there’s nothing as exciting as making your property perfect. This excitement makes it very easy for homeowners to overlook some of the necessary steps that inevitably come with the job, including checking local bylaws and filing the proper paperwork.

Skipping these steps is never a good idea, and can put a major damper on your home improvement projects, incurring significant fines and even forcing you to reverse much of the work you’ve done. In order to avoid these penalties, it’s important that you check with local bylaws before commencing any work on your Muskoka home or property.

 

A recent cautionary tale: Township of Muskoka Lakes building bylaws

Muskoka home and cottage owners can learn from a recent news story which saw a number of property owners and contractors in Muskoka Lakes charged after failing to check with local bylaws before removing trees and altering landscapes. As a result, a number of Stop Work Orders were issued to the parties, and they could even face charges of up to $320,000. For context, the Tree Preservation Bylaw in Muskoka Lakes clearly states that:

  • (a) No person shall injure or destroy a tree within 15 metres (50 feet) of a navigable waterway for those lands designated as Waterfront in the Township Official Plan and within 7.5 metres (25 feet) of a navigable waterway for those lands designated Urban Centre or Community in the Township Official Plan;
  • (b) No person shall injure or destroy a tree within an area zoned Environmental Protection (EP1) in the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law;
  • (c) No person shall injure or destroy a tree in an area zoned as a Scenic Corridor or Scenic Area in the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law within a distance of 100 feet from the front lot line
  • (d) No person shall injure or destroy a tree on land where a permit is required to do so, unless such permit has been obtained in advance

 

Had the homeowners and contractors simply checked with the Muskoka Lakes bylaws before starting work, they would have noticed the Tree Preservation Bylaw and could have planned accordingly for the landscape alterations. 

Muskoka Lakes Mayor Phil Harding stated that the problem of failing to comply with township bylaws has become all too common, and that homeowners across the township can face serious fines for failing to check and comply with them. He added that the 2021 budget has accounted for increased bylaw enforcement. It’s clear that these homeowners are being made an example of in the hopes that other property owners will think twice before kicking off a project without the proper permission.

 

Better to ask for permission than forgiveness – not the other way around 

It’s never a good idea to waste your own time and money. While it might seem like the quicker, more convenient option, the “do it now, ask for forgiveness later” mentality can cost you a great deal of time, money and effort. 

The amount of effort it takes to look up local bylaws and fill in the appropriate paperwork to obtain the appropriate permits is minimal. You don’t want to start a home improvement project only to have a Stop Work Order issued, a fine levied, and then having to tear down all your hard work.

Be aware that Muskoka bylaws exist for a reason, and all home and cottage owners in the Muskoka region are expected to follow them. Before you get too excited about that upcoming deck or dock construction, hot tub installation, private road work, or any other project, be aware of these bylaws and building permit requirements. You should also be ready to answer to bylaw officers and other authorities who may make an appearance during your build. 

 

Don’t become a cautionary tale 

Spare yourself from becoming another cautionary tale and do the work ahead of time – it’s never the most fun part of a project, but you’ll be thanking yourself for being proactive and ensuring that everything is okay to proceed before launching any work on your property. Whether you’re building, renovating or altering your property, there may be bylaws which dictate what you can and can’t do, and it’s expected that you comply with them regardless of their popularity.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the premier provider of high quality windows and doors and reliable installation services in the Muskoka region. Our experienced team has worked with home and cottage owners, builders, and contractors from all around the region. We use our expertise and industry knowledge to improve the aesthetic appeal and energy efficiency of hundreds of properties. To find out more about the high quality products and door and window installation services offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, reach out to us today.

How to Find a Good Contractor

We can’t always rely on our own skills to get the job done, that’s why so many homeowners are in need of a good contractor to see those home improvement projects through. Not everybody is well-rounded enough to be able to tackle difficult repair or maintenance projects, nor does everybody know a contractor or have one in their immediate circle of family and friends. Then there’s the issue of how exactly to find a good and reliable contractor in the first place, especially if you’ve never dealt with one before.

Making the wrong choice can leave you wishing you had just done the job yourself, can do more damage than good, or can leave you feeling burned and taken to the cleaners. Thankfully, with some persistence and the right know-how, finding a good contractor is easier than you think.

 

Ask people you trust

The first thing you should do in your quest to find a reliable contractor is to turn to the people you trust the most. Ask your family members, friends and neighbours who they recommend, and what kind of experiences they’ve had with local contractors. If they’re willing to make recommendations or warn against certain contractors, you can trust that they’ve already done the research and you can use this to expedite your search. Referrals are one of the best ways to track down high quality contractors, especially since the people giving those referrals can confirm that they’re already had positive experiences.

It’s also a good idea to ask business owners or professionals in your life for referrals. Trusted business owners or your accountant, lawyer, realtor, banker, plumber, electrician, or any other professionals you’ve dealt with can make excellent referrals, especially if they deal with contractors on a regular basis.

 

Do your own research

With information constantly at your fingertips, there’s just no reason not to do your own research. In addition to getting referrals from people you trust, it’s important to use the information available to you to your advantage. Look at online reviews on social media for a general idea of what people have experienced, but remember that you shouldn’t stop here because it won’t give you the full picture.

Once you’ve checked out the online reviews posted publicly, check to see if the contractor or business is listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If they are, it means they’ve either paid for the BBB listing, or there have been complaints lodged against them. If no complaints show up on the BBB listing, keep in mind that it may have been removed after the contractor or business took steps to remedy or compensate the complainant. On the BBB’s website, you’ll be able to check for reviews to get an even better idea of what the general public thinks of the contractor or business.

After this, head on over to the official Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website and type in the name of the business or contractor in question. This will pull up any official court cases against that person or business, and give you a good idea of their history and reputation. If nothing comes up, then you might be in luck.

 

Finding good contractors in Muskoka

With these tips, finding a good contractor in Muskoka is easy. When you’re in need of a high quality contractor in the Muskoka region, it’s always a good idea to book in advance of the summer season whenever possible. This is the busiest time of year for contractors, and their bookings often start filling up by late April. If you miss the summer season, don’t fret – you can always book for fall before the snow arrives.

For a great local place to ask for contractor referrals, check with your local lake association. Lake associations deal with a wide variety of businesses and contractors, giving them a good idea who is reliable and who should be avoided. Whenever possible, handle cosmetic jobs and simple repairs yourself, as it’s often a better option than hiring a contractor if you live in the country – save time and money by saving contractors for the big repairs or projects you don’t have the skills to take on.

For projects involving door and window installation, repair, or maintenance, choose Muskoka Window & Door Centre. For years, our team has been the first choice for Muskoka cottage and homeowners looking for the best service and the highest quality window and door products available. We maintain relationships with a wide variety of reliable Muskoka contractors and builders, working alongside the very best the region has to offer to make your dreams come true. To find out more about everything the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre can do for you, get in touch with us today.