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How Much Does it Cost to Build a Custom Cottage in Muskoka?

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Custom Cottage in Muskoka?

You can’t wait to hit the lake first thing in the morning and retire from its shores as the sun sets. Lake Muskoka, Lake Isabella, Six Mile Lake, Lake Joseph, and more comprise some of our beautiful region’s aquatic playgrounds. With so many large and small lake options in our majestic area, the site for your holiday home is waiting for you to find it, just as we’re waiting for your call.

Ballantyne builds premium cottages on the beautiful lakes and wild places of Muskoka. Our generations of construction experience give us the rock-solid knowledge, professionalism, and expertise to create a next-level custom cottage for you.

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Custom Cottage in Muskoka?

We’ll lead with the price range per square foot. Our average cost to build a cottage is usually $500-$700/sq ft—the type of cottage you want to build dictates the ultimate cost per square foot. In the Muskoka region, a traditional timber frame cottage, including site prep and taxes, averages $500-$600 per square foot; modern cottages with high-end finishes average $700-$800 per square foot. 

That being said, we have built cottages for less and for more; it all depends on the features and the finishes you choose.


Factors That Influence the Cost of Your Custom Cottage in Muskoka

Many builders avoid discussing site servicing (well/septic/utilities), site prep, and HST because they don't want to shock prospective clients. You can't build a cottage on a raw piece of land, and you need to pay taxes, so eliminating that $200K from cost per square foot is silly, in our opinion, and can cause damaging misunderstandings. We want people to be able to afford the cottage they are building. Running out of money before completing the project does not benefit either party. We want clients to feel delighted at the end, not like they overspent.

Lot and Site Prep

Site prep can be very costly if you start from scratch and need to blast out a lot of rock. Muskoka is unique in this regard; not many places in the world build on rock. This makes site prep for your custom construction in this area very different from building in Toronto, which many people don't realize. Site prep can be anywhere from $10,000 to $300,000, which is why we recommend meeting with a builder before you start on drawings. Sometimes making the footprint slightly smaller or only doing a partial basement instead of a full basement can drastically reduce the amount of blasting necessary because the cottage can be built according to the land, drastically reducing your site preparation costs. 

Harmonized Sales Tax

Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a 13% harmonized sales tax that is mandatory on all goods and services, adding to your cottage construction's price tag. It is vital to factor taxes into your budget.


We discuss the cost of custom construction by the square foot for a reason. The cost of your custom cottage scales up with its size. Bigger cottages often require more extensive site preparation and more building materials. More space often translates to more elaborate features that take time and expertise to create.


Finishes really matter! For example, we recently quoted a roof where the cost for an asphalt shingled roof was almost a quarter of the cost of a standing seam metal roof. Many finishes go into a cottage, and spending an extra bit on each of those items can add up to hundreds of thousands by the end of the build. We help our clients pick the finishes that match their budget and are within the allowances we provided in our estimate. If there are unexpected cost increases, we can help adjust the rest of the budget and make adjustments to mitigate the increases. 


We Help You Budget from the Beginning

We want you to make informed decisions every step of the way. We start by sending each prospective client a pre-build questionnaire to determine their wants and needs and their expected budget. If there seems to be a discrepancy, we let them know immediately and have further discussions about their ideal cottage within their budget. We can provide a rough estimate on preliminary drawings, considering the questionnaire answers and initial discussions. If the estimate is still higher than expected, we can work with the owner to lower the cost. 


How To Stay on Budget for Your Muskoka Custom Cottage

Plan to Splurge

When creating your custom cottage budget, assume you will want to spend a little extra at some point and factor that cushion into your actual budget. We build some contingencies into our estimates, but it is good to have some extra, just in case.

Splurge on Planning

Building your cottage is exciting! Once you’re committed, it can be tempting to rush to get started. Spending extra time in planning ensures that you have made thoughtful decisions about your features and finishes and considered every angle before making your final selections. Changing your mind down the line can be extremely costly and add time to your project


Your Cottage is in Expert Hands with Ballantyne Builds

We want your Muskoka custom cottage to satisfy your every dream, and we know we’ve got what it takes to make it happen. Reach out today to tell us more about your proposed project.

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