cabins Posts

Cabins: For Extra Space and Privacy

Maybe you live in a rural area, or maybe you’ve just purchased or come into some land. It’s beautiful and you’re excited to show it off to friends and family. But is the place big enough to house everyone comfortably?

Often one cabin isn’t big enough for everyone to be comfortable, especially if you have a large family or love to entertain.  A second smaller guest cabin (or ‘bunkie’) helps keep families and friends close … but not too close. It can be used for various purposes – a hang out space for teens, an in-law suite, or even as a tiny home/rental income property when you aren’t using it (just like Rebecca does in “Small in Size, Big on Function: Leading the Tiny House Movement”.)

summerwood cabin with porch custom

Regardless of what you’re going to use your cabin for, there are a few things you should consider before entering into the design process. Below, we’ve got a few questions to consider before building your very own custom cabin. Let’s get those wheels turning!

Do I need to insulate?

You may need to insulate your cabin depending on what climate you live in. If it gets chilly where you live, you’re probably going to want to insulate the building so you can use it year round. If you are adding plumbing, you may also consider adding insulation to ensure your pipes don’t freeze during the colder months.

Does it need ventilation?

Yes, a cabin definitely needs ventilation. Consider that someone may not be there all the time to open a window, perhaps it’s a vacation property that you only visit on weekends or holidays. Air will get stale and can lead to rot and major air quality problems down the line – such as mold. No thanks!

Summerwood cabins come with cedar or maintenance-free vents in the gable roof, to ensure your building is always breathing in the fresh forest air!

Do I need a permit?

In most cases you will need a permit for a cabin as you’ll probably want it to be a bit larger than the average shed or pool cabana. If you’re planning on making it larger than 100 square feet, or adding plumbing, you will have to go through the permit process. Learn more about obtaining a permit, and how we can help in “Building Permits: What You Need to Know”.

A cabin this size definitely needs a permit.

A cabin this size definitely needs a permit.

Should I stain it?

Yes! You should always stain or paint a cedar sided building. Unlike a deck or a fence, which you can let grey and whether over time, when cedar is used as a siding material it should be maintained. Since the idea is to keep the elements out, you’ll want to stain the structure to ensure the wood does not warp or rot. If occasional staining just isn’t for you, consider a maintenance-free option, such as Canexel. It has a 25 year warranty and comes in a multitude of colours. Read more about weathering in “Understanding Weathering: The Effects of Rain or Shine on Your Outdoor Storage Unit”.

Paint your building whatever colour you like!

Paint your building whatever colour you like!

What about Storage?

Storage can be tricky in a small cabin space, but a loft is an ever popular solution. If you’re working with a gable roof building, it’s very easy to incorporate a loft space. If a loft is what you desire, we’ll add a floor and a ladder, and voila! A loft can be used for storage, but is also beloved by children. The little ones won’t mind sleeping in a loft space either, but you may have trouble convincing them to ever leave!

Our Ultimate Cottage Bunkie provides a loft, and an overhang without impacting your footprint.

Our Ultimate Cottage Bunkie provides a loft, and an overhang without impacting your footprint.

What goes on the roof?

Shingles are by far the most popular roof material. The options for colours and styles of shingles are truly endless. If you do choose to add a loft space as mentioned above, consider whether or not visitors will be sleeping upstairs. A tin or metal roof, although durable can create a noisy atmosphere when it rains, so it’s important to keep interior comfort in mind when choosing roof materials.

Can I include outdoor living space?

You absolutely can include this in your cabin design! After all, you’re there to enjoy the great outdoors. If you would like to add a porch to your building, keep in mind that it will count towards your overall footprint. A porch is included in this calculation as it is supported by posts. If this is a concern, perhaps our Ultimate Cottage Bunkie would be preferable. It also provides a front-porch like space, but with just an overhang. Because the structure is cantilevered, this overhand does not count towards your overall square footage. Read more in “Spring Best Seller: Permit Free Cottage Bunkie”.

summerwood custom cabin

summerwood cedar tiny home cabin

What about foundation?

Foundation is dependent on a few factors: is the ground beneath flat and level? Is there a slope? Can rock or stone be found under the ground? Is the structure near water? Our design experts are here to help determine what kind of foundation is best for your particular situation, that’s why we call ourselves custom builders! The underlay of your building can be as simple as gravel and patio stones, although this is generally more appropriate for smaller or shed-like structures. A concrete slab, or piers is more likely what you’ll need to support your cabin foundation.

Concrete piers can help get your right on the water.

Concrete piers can help get you right on the water.

A few years ago, we assisted Tracy and her husband when they bought a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario. Initially, they didn’t consider a guest cabin, and they lived comfortably in their space for quite some time. As the family grew, and new grand-kids, nieces and nephews began to visit the property, they realized they could use some more space. The need for more space for friends and family was apparent, but they didn’t have time to build something themselves.

Instead, they decided a little elbow grease was just what they needed to solve their problem. The old cabin needed some work anyway, so when they renovated it they also had a Summerwood Canmore cabin built. “Now everyone has their own space to relax and spread out. Our mothers come up a lot and feel right at home in the Canmore. The kids love it too. They play up in the loft.”

Tracy and her family had the cabin built just off the driveway, right behind the main cabin. “It’s the first thing you see when you come up the driveway.” First impressions matter, so it needed to be adorable!

You decide just how cute, or rustic your perfect custom cabin will be!

Contact Us:
Email us: design@summerwood.com
Call us toll-free: 1 866 519-4634

10 Things You Need To Know Before Staining Your Cedar

Cooper Creek 9ft x 12ft

Cedar is by far our favourite siding material for countless reasons. Although we understand the need and convenience of maintenance free options, when it comes to siding, we simply can’t compete with nature. Western Red Cedar has been our first choice for years due to its durability, ascetic appeal, and environmental sustainability.

At Summerwood, we always recommend that our customers stain their cedar-sided building. So, why do we recommend this to our customers?  Although you can let your cedar weather naturally when used for a deck or a fence, when you’re using it as a siding the idea is to keep the elements out. You want your beautiful custom backyard building to stay that way, and for your belongings to remain safe and dry inside. Staining the cedar is the absolute best way to ensure this, especially in areas that have four-season climates. Since Western Red Cedar naturally lacks pitch and resin, it allows for countless staining options and will accept stain very well if applied correctly. To help you properly stain your newly built outdoor structure, we’ve come up with 10 tips to help you stain your cedar and to keep it looking new for years to come.

 

10 Tips for staining your cedar

 

1. Three choices for staining

When it comes to staining your cedar, you have three choices: natural, semi -transparent, and coloured or opaque. Consider whether you want your building to look untouched or add a pop of colour to your yard before choosing.

 

2. Transparent stains have water-repellent features

Cedar is known to age gracefully to a soft, silver-grey patina, but it’s wise to keep the rich tones of your cedar siding lasting longer. Transparent stains contain no pigment but have water-repellent features that will help to retain natural tones and slow down the natural colour change process. It’s a win-win!

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3. Offer up a hint of colour

Semi-transparent stains offer up a hint of colour. They still represent the wood beautifully but give it a little boost. Grains and knots in your wood will be modified, not enough to take away from its natural qualities though!

 

4. Coloured/Opaque finishes add a little charm

Coloured/opaque finishes allow you to have fun with your finished product. If you want to go for a dramatic look, or maybe add a little extra charm, this may be the way to go. This option isn’t for the indecisive though, so make sure you know exactly what you want!

 

5. The sooner you treat your cedar, the better

Once you’ve decided on your finish it’s best to get to work quickly. The sooner you treat your cedar, the better. Although cedar is naturally resistant to rot and decay, staining your siding promptly will help in the preventing of deterioration.

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6. Wash & wait for it to dry

Prepare your cedar siding by washing it with soapy water to remove any dirt or dust (if any has accumulated). After you have washed it, wait for it to dry before applying any stain to the cedar.

 

7. Use a thick brush when staining

One of the most thorough methods when staining is to use a thick, natural bristle brush. The brush bristles will distribute the stain evenly onto the wood, as well as helping to reach the undulations on the surface of the cedar. If you are thinking about using a rolling brush.

 

8. Work in the shade while staining

It is best to apply the stain to the cedar while working the shade. This will allow the stain to sink deeper in the cedar surface. One of the best ways to help them dry properly is to set them on sawhorses, thus keeping them off the grass, soil, and sand, making your task a lot easier.

 

9. Allow the stain to dry slowly & apply a second coat

Two coats are always recommended when you want to maintain the natural look of Western red cedar. After you have put the first coat on, it is recommended that you wait 6 to 8 hours for it to dry before placing a second coat on.

 

10. Enjoy!

Bask in the glory of your newly finished cedar building for years to come.

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For countless styles and options, cedar is consistently the best choice! Please don’t hesitate to contact the design experts at Summerwood with any questions you may have: 1-866-519-4634.

If you’re ready to design your very own spectacular cedar building, or do some brainstorming, our Design Center will get your creative wheels turning!

Custom Design Centre Call to Action

 

Crowning Our Annual Photo Contest Winners: Top 3 Photos of 2015

 

photo contest 2015 summerwood products

One of our favorite annual events takes place in the Summerwood design office every spring – our extremely popular Photo Contest winners are chosen! We’re blown away by our customers’ enthusiasm for our contest and love picking through the latest photos and awarding cash prizes. Our top prize winner takes home $250, second place takes $150, and third place is awarded a cool $100. Not bad for sending in a few photos of your outdoor project! Remember that if you have photos that you haven’t sent in before it’s never too late to do so; send us your photos today and we’ll enter them into the 2016 contest.

The Top 3 Photos of 2015 (Chosen by our design staff!)

2015 was an exciting year featuring many exciting and custom projects, and as usual selecting our winners was extremely challenging. We receive hundreds of photos every year and selecting three finalists is no small feat!  Without further ado here are our top 3 photos for 2015:

1) 10’x10’ Glen Echo Bunkie from Napanee, Ontario

1st-glen-echo-Cabin-Napanee-Ontario

Our 1st Place Photo Contest Winner for 2015

Once again our Ultimate Glen Echo “Permit-Free” Bunkie was a monster hit among customers looking for extra sleeping space at their vacation and cottage properties. This gorgeous Western red cedar bunkie blends in with the trees and serves as a real lakeside retreat in Ontario – a real asset to any cottage vacation rental looking for “permit-free” sleeping and storage space. The double French doors let in tons of natural light and also allow for storing oversized items over the winter months. As always a pull-down ladder for loft access and lots of opening windows are staples of this building design and allow for relaxation and cool breezes to flow in. The customer-built front deck looks like a great spot to kick back in a comfy Adirondack chair and listen to the waves lap up against the shoreline.

Congratulations to our first place winners and recipients of our $250 cash prize!

 

2) 8’x13’ Verana Studio/Shed from Oakville, Ontario

2nd-Verana-garden-shed-Toronto-Ontario

Our 2nd Place Photo Contest Winner for 2015: “Wow…..this is pretty cool news! We love the garden shed!”

While we love classic garden shed designs we also love when our customers push the envelope and allow style and function to blend together. Our Oakville-based customer was looking for a garden shed that would immediately blend into her yard and feel like it had been there for years. To solve her storage and design dilemma we custom-designed this 104 square foot beauty which was painted to match the existing stucco home. One of the coolest features of this particular shed/studio is that the customer chose to partially insulate the building. Why’s that a good idea? By insulating the floor and wrapping the building with moisture-resistant vapor barrier this customer could easily finish insulating the walls and roof down the road and would have a 4-season studio space. This can be particularly valuable in the event you may need an office or extra guest room, and can also be an enticing feature to potential buyers if you were selling your home.

We adore the transom windows on the sides of the building that let some light into the building but don’t sacrifice the privacy and security of the items stored within. The frosted glass on the front doors will keep the building feeling airy without showcasing the not-so-pretty items stored inside, and a small deck and simple pot lights add to the charm and character of the building. The roof overhang of this building was customized to fit within a tight space and to conform to local bylaws and will keep anyone using the building dry regardless of the weather.

Congrats to our 2nd place finisher!

 

3) 12’x24’ Surfside Cabana in Toronto, Ontario

pool-cabana-toronto-ontario

Our 3rd Place Photo Contest Winner for 2015

What better place to cool off from a refreshing swim or to relax with a cold drink on a hot day? Our Surfside cabana truly lives up to its name on an everyday basis and is one of the most popular pool cabanas with customers and industry professionals alike. These customers were after a building that would blend indoor and outdoor living and would blur the line between inside and out. Huge sliding French doors were the perfect solution! A simple whitewash of the interior makes the building feel bright at any time of the day and some simple yet beautiful décor make this the place to be when hanging out close to the pool. The cedar shingles will age to a silvery grey and will last a lifetime, adding character and definition to the building throughout the years.

So there you have it, our 2015 photo contest winners! Ready to start the process on designing your own custom structure? Click over to the Summerwood Custom Design Center or contact a design consultant today! Have pictures you’d like to send to us? Email them directly to design@summerwood.com or use our online photo upload tool. Check out our Photo Contest page to see past winners, we’ll also soon profile our 2015 honorable mentions on this page as well.

Small in Size, Big on Function: Leading the Tiny House Movement

interior-tiny-house-movement-feat

Over the past few years we’ve been hearing more and more about tiny houses. Admittedly our design team was initially a bit skeptical about the concept of cramming all of our everyday household items into a very small space. In today’s “bigger is better” culture we truly thought the tiny house movement would come and go quickly. But when we started seeing tiny homes pop up in Texas of all places, we know we were wrong to doubt the trend! Small house designs continue to be one of the more popular conversation starters the Summerwood design staff engages in with our customers. In reality we’ve been building micro homes and small cabins and cottages for over 20 years, making us an ideal resource for designing and purchasing a tiny home.

Save Space & Earn $$$ with Your Own Tiny House

Tiny homes have exploded in popularity over the past few years and Summerwood Products’ line of outdoor structures have been a natural choice for tiny home builders across North America. Our DIY and fully-customizable building kits can be designed to your exact specifications and can be fully insulated for use in all four seasons just about anywhere in the world. We had the great pleasure of working with a Nashville-based client, Rebecca, on the design of a tiny home that new serves as an investment property and offers space for guest overflow. Here’s a Q&A with Rebecca’s story (and some incredible pictures she shared with us!).

Why did you decide to purchase a Summerwood building specifically?

My husband and I chose to buy a Summerwood product specifically because we truly feel they have the best kit designs out there. We had looked at a few competitors and just felt there was no match for Summerwood. We loved that the designs are customizable, and spent a lot of time choosing exactly which style of cabin we wanted, and how many doors/windows etc. It was a fun process!

tiny-house-movement-summerwood-micro-home

Sleeping space for guests (paying or otherwise!) or perhaps a year-round living space.

What did you intend to use the building for? Why did you need it?

We have a smallish house in Nashville without an easy way to add on to it. With the birth of our son our house felt increasingly cramped and we were without a way to host guests. Additionally, we wanted to be able to rent out part of our house for income, and with short term rental websites like airbnb, it is very easy to use a space for two purposes. So our Summerwood cabin is now part-time guest space, part-time rental. We love it!

tiny-house-bath-interior

Tiny home living doesn’t mean giving up on modern comforts!

How was the building experience?

The building experience was honestly a bit harder than we’d expected. We had a “house raising” after we received the kit, when around 8-12 friends/family members came to get us started. We got a lot done that first day, but there was still a lot left to do, and we generally were able to work primarily during our son’s naps (so, not that much). It was often enjoyable, at times it was frustrating, since we didn’t really have building experience going into this.

skylight-pullout-bed-tiny house

With an open roof space, skylight, and pull-out bed, Rebecca is making the most of this small space.

How has the building helped alleviate a previous need?

We have started to host our first airbnb guests and we are loving it! And we now have a place for friends and family to stay! It is absolutely wonderful to have it finished.

 

How would you characterize your experience overall?

Our overall experience was that this was more difficult than we thought it would be, but that we do not regret going with Summerwood at all. The design continues to please us – we love the dormer, the rounded door, the tall ceilings – and Summerwood was helpful throughout our experience.

tiny-houses-winter-insulation

Live in a cold climate? Insulate your tiny house for year-round living in comfort.

Design Your Tiny House Today

Start online with our Custom Design Center to begin designing and pricing your own tiny house or give us a call now at (800) 663-5042 to talk about your ideas, we love answering your questions and helping make your tiny house plans turn from dream to reality!

 

Best Seller: Permit Free Cottage Bunkie

We won’t make you wonder, our most popular building of the season is definitely the permit-free Glen Echo Bunkie!
 

You can almost smell the cedar!

You can almost smell the cedar!

Ultimate Glen Echo Bunkie

Ultimate Glen Echo Bunkie

Here’s a few reasons why Glen Echo Bunkie has been so popular this spring.
Features

  • It’s a 10 x 10 building, so at 100 sq. ft. it’s permit-free in most areas!
    Can you say woo hoo!? Awesome.
  • 3 foot front-overhang creates a bonus 130 sq.ft. half-storey loft space.
    Perfect for storage or extra sleepers.
  • Efficient: Front and rear dormers max-out the loft space, enough for a queen size mattress!
  • Customizable: You choose your doors and windows, we have over 50 to choose from.
    So you can gaze upon your lovely view!
  • Stylish: This Western Red Cedar Cottage Bunkie is a lovely focal point.
    It may steal the spotlight!
  • Includes an attic ladder which allows access to the loft area, but leaves usable floor space downstairs when folded up.
  • Affordable! We’re a custom builder, allowing you the flexibility of creating a Bunkie that’s as elaborate or simple as you like.
Bunkie view from the front

Bunkie view from the front

Back

Bunkie view from the back

Here’s why

It’s the perfect addition to your cottage property for a lot less than building an addition and living through a renovation. Yes, we did say it’s permit-free, as it’s only 100 square feet! Also, it won’t affect your property taxes, so not only is it lovely to look at, it’s a smart choice. Who says you can’t be both!?

 

Our 10 x 10 Cottage Bunkie doesn't need a permit!

Our 10 x 10 Cottage Bunkie doesn’t need a permit!

What can I use it for?

Well, The Glen Echo Bunkie is perfect for cottage hang-outs, extra sleepers, grandkids and all kids, man-caves, and even as a She-Shed (the ladies need some space too!)

3 Reasons Why Western Red Cedar is Your Friend

1. Durable and low maintenance

Red cedar is naturally resistant to rot, decay and pesky insect attacks. You won’t face the worry of mildew development like you would with a composite. Forget staining, sealing or painting, red cedar is hardy and one with nature.

2. Ages gracefully

Unlike other composites or synthetic materials, western red cedar is a designers dream when used for siding or other outdoor projects. While it’s known to be a great base for primer and paint (holding a solid stain for up to eight years), it’s in vogue to let your cedar naturally mature. A silvery-grey patina develops when red cedar is left untreated, offering the perfect option for those who prefer low maintenance beauty; and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?

 

3. Easy to customize and work with

Customization is often key when finding the ideal look or fit for a project. Red cedar comes in various surface textures, lumber dimensions and grades for one-of-a-kind designs. Cedar is easy to saw and glue and takes fasteners without splitting. Western red cedar is strong yet surprisingly lightweight, making it easy to cut and bend (a friendly material for DIYers). While certain materials may not readily come in unconventional sizes needed for outdoor structures like a garden shed, cedar is a no fuss, down-to-earth option that usually does.