Winterization This term is commonly used to refer to seasonal cottages that have been converted to year-round use. Because there are no specific standards to define it, the term is relative to how the person using it interprets it. Buyers should be aware of the lack of universal standards, and take the following into consideration.
1.Insulation Check for spotty insulation, where only some parts of the cottage are insulated.
2. Windows Make sure original seasonal windows have been replaced by casement windows with double or triple glazing. Skylights and any other extensive glassed-in area may pose heating and ventilation problems if improper construction methods and inferior materials were used.
3.Vaulted Ceilings It can be costly to properly insulate original vaulted ceilings. Buyers should consider the expense of retrofitting such ceilings.
4.Water/Septic Systems During winter months, the water and waste disposal lines in unheated structures should be drained to avoid freezing, and anti-freeze should be placed in sewage system traps. Heated water lines that are designed specifically for recreational property should be permanently installed in existing buried water lines.
5. Unheated and Cold Areas Buyers should be aware that some unheated areas like crawl spaces might not have been insulated during winterization. Heating ducts, proper ventilation and vapour barriers may need to be installed in order to prevent moisture accumulation.
Cottages and the Recreational Market
The term cottage describes a variety of different structures that are set in a rural landscape, most commonly by a body of water like a lake or river, and used primarily for recreational purposes by urban dwellers.
1. Seasonal Cottages are non-winterized structures designed for summer use, most commonly set by a river or lake. They are often inaccessible by land, and/or blocked from winter travel by uncleared roads, and snow and ice conditions.
2. Winterized Year-Round Cottages are seasonal cottages that have been modified into permanent all-season homes. They are often renovated by summer cottagers to be lived in during their retirement.
3. The Country Home is a spinoff of an old concept that has been made contemporary by urban families who choose to have a home-away-from-home set by the waterfront in a rural landscape.
4. Chalets are fully-equipped homes that are acquired for winter sports use such as skiing. Often they are co-owned, condos or timeshare properties. They are very popular in the Barrie, Collingwood and Huntsville areas, where a wide range of services and businesses now cater to the chalet market.
5. Hobby Farms used to be primarily purchased for small enterprises such as horse training or small crop farms. The current trend offers another variation of the country home, a place for urban professionals to get away from the city in an idyllic country setting.
Please note: GoWaterfront specializes in the waterfront cottages market only.
Meeting all the standards of the Ontario Building Codes can be problematic for older recreational structures, especially those that have not been modified over many years of ownership. Some of the more common conditions and their causes are:
1. Structural Movement Signs of shifting and settling in a building that was constructed on perimeter walls instead of a full foundation include cracks in walls and uneven floors.
Older cottages may suffer from inadequate footings that were originally installed on weak soil, did not extend below the frost-line, or were not strong enough to support the full weight of the structure. Repairing footings can be an expensive undertaking.
Some cottages in the region were built with piers. If the space between them if too big, they may suffer from wood-rot or other deterioration, and show signs of structural movement including cracks, sagging and piers out of alignment.
2. Roof Construction and Pitch Older cottages were often constructed with low-pitched roofs which are prone to ice-damming when snow and ice collect in one particular area, most often in the eaves, blocking spring runoff. With no drain system, water will back up under roof shingles, eventually running into the main building structure. Signs of ice-damming include interior ceiling or wall water stains. Older cottages with inadequately constructed roofs will also show signs of sagging.
3. Decks and Porches Structural modifications through the years, such as enclosing a deck or porch, may have caused an overload on footings and piers.
4. Drainage When older cottages were built on low-lying land close to the waterfront, on concrete pilings or perimeter walls with no basement, and without much consideration given to water drainage. Over the years, the lack of drainage can cause both moisture damage to the building, and from spring-runoff from the higher land around it. Poor drainage can also result in well water contamination, or problems to the sewage system.
5. Do-It-Yourselfers Be wary of the weekend DIY cottager syndrome. Be sure to request appropriate approval documents for additions and other structural work, and check for shoddy materials and workmanship.
6. Wood Stoves Any CSA approved chimney such as wood-burning appliances should be inspected by a certified member of the Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT Inc.). This non-profit training and education association promotes the safe and effective usage of wood-burning systems throughout Canada. Go to: http://www.wettinc.ca for more info.
7. Retaining Walls Buyers should assess the quality of all retaining walls, making sure they are well constructed with high-grade materials, and have adequate drainage with proper gravel behind them and outlets at the base, as well as adequate footings.