Picture this – you’re sitting on a dock, sipping your drink whilst enjoying the sunset at the bank of the calm lake. Your dream cottage in Ontario is just behind where a cosy and peaceful stay awaits you. We know it’s a picturesque location where you would definitely want to live. The experts of Canada’s real estate market can help you get cottages in such locations to fulfil your dream. While most people enjoy renting cottage homes for a weekend trip once or twice a year, there are still many people who wish to purchase a cottage in Ontario on a waterfront location to relax whenever they want. If you are thinking of building a cottage in Ontario, then there is a lot to keep in mind as you start the building procedure. To clear the confusion, we have listed a few steps in this guide that you can follow to build a cottage in Ontario.

Brainstorming Phase of Build Cottage in Ontario

Brainstorming Phase

The very first strategy for any process is to brainstorm and it’s no different when it comes to building a cottage. The planning and brainstorming stage is basic and essential for a successful plan. While brainstorming, location is the very first thing your mind will be stuck at. However, you need not worry, Ontario has various beautiful locations which are perfect for cottages. For instance, Parry Sound, Kawartha, Georgian Bay, North Bay, Muskoka, and so many other places. You can follow the listed steps that we have jotted down to help you choose your desired holiday location.

Know What You Need from Your Cottage

Do you wish to access the cottage throughout the year or do you just want to spend summers? You want a cottage near a good city or town? Do you want your cottage on the lakeside? How much are you willing to pay for the property or the location? How far do you want to purchase a cottage from your permanent residence? Answering these questions will surely help you a lot in choosing the best location for your cottage. Apart from these questions, you will also have to think about the size of the cottage. Big families require more space than retirees and young professionals. Also, think long term, if you have any plans to rent out your property rather than keeping it vacant, then you must consider a larger cottage.

Set Your Budget

Set Your Budget

Another important step for building a cottage in Ontario is to plan your budget before you start hunting for properties. When you plan to custom-build your cottage, it’s the best way to save some money on the building cost to stick to your budget. There are various variable expenses while you custom-build a cottage where you can negotiate a lot, just as, hiring an architect, labour wages, raw materials, permits, property tax, utilities, interior finishes, house inspection, house insurance, and so forth. Thus, it is good to set a hard budget in advance as it helps you hunt accordingly because you already know what you can afford.

Buy a Property

Once you have decided the location for your cottage, the next you can start to find the plot or property in that area. Owing to their popularity in recent years, the demand and price for the cottages in Ontario have increased. Buying a property for a cottage comes with the option of old properties and vacant plots. You can choose either as per your preference to rebuild or to newly build your cottage homes. We have listed down a few major steps you can follow while buying a property for your cottage home in Ontario.

The average price of cottage real estate in Ontario

Cottage real estate prices in Ontario can fluctuate depending on the location you choose. For instance, if you choose the most popular cottage homes spot i.e. waterfront properties, then the rates might leave behind the average price bar. The price of most of the cottage homes in Ontario cost around CA$ 500,000, depending on the location you choose to buy. We recommend you to compare property and prices and close the deal with the one that fits best in your budget. Therefore, if you custom-build your cottage home, then you can save a lot of money. The average price of the custom-built cottage costs around CA$ 250,000. The overall price of the cottage homes depends on the size of the plot, property location, material you use, design, and other factors.

Land Permits and Survey

When you are investing your money in a property then a land survey becomes the most essential step. It is important to do a land survey to avoid any construction and legal issues that you might face in future. You can also follow the same for the construction company or an architect as there also you are putting down your hard-earned money. Once you are done with the land survey, you will get a better idea to build a secure cottage. You will also need the building permit before you start the construction procedure. The permit application makes sure that the building structure follows all the construction codes and the other standard requirements.

Design Your Custom-built Cottage

Custom-built Cottage

Designing your cottage is the most attractive side after all the hassles you made in finding the location and getting the land permits. It is as stressful as creative because it is quite tough to execute your dream into reality. Though it is time-consuming, here you need to figure out what you actually want your cottage to look like. And for figuring this out, you can simply look at the size of the plot to plan the perfect layout and the design of your cottage.

Categories of Custom-built Cottages

You can either choose to design the complete cottage on your own or you can also hire an architect to custom-build your cottage in Ontario. You can also opt for the third category i.e., modular homes, where you get the already drafted layouts, plans, and designs as per the size of your cottage. The modular cottages are less expensive than custom-built cottage homes. Because they do not require you to hire an architect. Also, the modular cottages provide pretty standard designs. However, they do not give you much space for personalisation on the construction site. Whatever category you select, you must always check the benefits and the price to find which is suitable for your cottage homes.

Hire professionals

Is it going to be on the ground or it needs to be raised? Will it have a back porch or a deck? These are the things that go under the construction design procedure to make out a beautiful finished product. This is the time where you feel to bring in an experienced architect to help you with the designing process. Also, you can approach professionals who get your vision and draft it in real whilst sticking to your budget. Besides, drafting out beautiful designs professionals also know where you can manage unexpected costs.

Build Your Cottage

Build Your Cottage

No matter if you have hired the architect or contracted with the construction company. Still we advise you to personally look after everything for the best output. If you will be available at the time of the construction. You can put in your choices into the most unexpected events or in layout decisions. Slowly and steadily your custom-built cottage starts to take shape, from digging the plot to holding the walls. With the help of your architect  painting the exteriors and interiors, installing the flooring, and designing each room. Finally, when your cottage is perfectly complete, it is ready for your winter retreats and your summer holidays.

The Cost of Building a Cottage in Ontario

Numerous individuals are drawn to Cottage Country to retreat from the fast-paced urban lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is crucial to maintain a realistic outlook regarding the expenses associated with constructing a custom-built cottage. Building a cottage constitutes a significant investment that can provide lasting happiness to your family, but it is important to acknowledge that it is not a budget-friendly endeavour.


The value of lakefront properties in the Cottage Country region is projected to rise in the upcoming year. The proximity of your lot to a lake will directly impact its cost, with closer lots demanding higher prices. In Canada’s recreational areas, the average price of cottages is expected to increase by 15% in 2021. The growing trend of people migrating to Cottage Country for permanent residency, combined with the rise of remote work, is anticipated to drive up the prices of homes and lots. When estimating the expenses for your custom cottage, allocate a higher budget for the lot itself. Moreover, the desirability of a neighbourhood plays a significant role in determining its price. Building a cottage in popular areas such as Muskoka or Kawarthas may entail slightly higher costs than in other regions.

How Your Lot Affects the Overall Cost

When estimating the expenses of constructing a cottage, many individuals primarily focus on the cost of the actual building. However, it is crucial to recognise that the choice of your lot can significantly impact your budget. Before commencing cottage construction, proper preparation of the lot and building site is necessary. The initial step typically involves a land survey determining easements and boundaries. It is important to be mindful of underground utilities during excavation. This survey also helps assess the grading and clearing required before building the cottage. The cost of a land survey varies depending on the landscape and the size of the building site, with prices starting around $1,500 and varying based on the topography and location. Once the land survey is complete, the next phase involves clearing rocks and vegetation. The more obstacles there are on your lot, the longer it will take and the more expensive it will be to clear them.

After clearing, grading is necessary to create a level surface for construction. Steep lots will require more extensive grading, increasing the associated costs. It is also important to consider the proximity of your building site to the nearest road. A longer distance will require a lengthier driveway, resulting in additional expenses. The type of material chosen for the driveway will also impact costs. Concrete, asphalt, gravel, or stone come with different price tags. It is advisable to assess the costs associated with these materials and include them in your overall budget calculation.

Accessing the Property

When constructing a home on an island, it is important to consider the logistics of transporting materials to that location. The materials must be transported by vehicle to the nearest access point and then by boat, adding additional costs to your budget due to these extra steps.

Square Footage and Design

The size of your cottage directly correlates with its cost. On average, the construction of a custom home begins at $300 per square foot, depending on the chosen level of finishes. For instance, if you opt for a 2,200-square-foot cottage, the starting cost for the build alone would be $660,000. Having a larger home also requires more grading on your lot to accommodate the increased size. One way to address this is by constructing a two-story cottage, which occupies less space on your lot. The selection of interior design and finishes significantly impacts the cost. Opting for high-end lumber, countertops, and flooring will contribute to an increase in the overall expense of the cottage. Bathrooms are often one of the more costly rooms in a home, so the number of bathrooms directly affects the cost of your cottage.

Utilising an upscale kitchen design can also be expensive, but it tends to offer a favourable return on investment. This aspect should be kept in mind during the cottage design process. Acknowledging that certain market factors may be beyond your control is important. For instance, the price of lumber has risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which will influence the overall cost of your cottage.

Connect with an Experienced Builder

Determining the cost of building a cottage in Ontario involves numerous variables. It is crucial to approach the process realistically and choose a functional lot that won’t deplete your entire budget before starting construction. It is advisable to promptly engage the services of an experienced cottage builder to ensure you are on the right path from the beginning.


Following the above detailed procedure and considering all the detailed factors. You will end up building your dream cottage in Ontario. If you still have any doubt on building your cottage then we would suggest you approach a professional architect. The architects are experienced, they have market knowledge and they understand the customer perspective accurately. It helps them turn out your expectations on the right note and they will hand you your dream cottage at the end of the construction.