Climate Drives Design

TThe design of the cottage featured in this newsletter was driven almost entirely by the climate of the area. Georgian Bay is known for extremes – its rugged topography and wild storms, and on the other hand, its tranquil, still days when all you can hear is the rustle of a friendly chipmunk. In order to shelter the structure, early in the design development stage we made some choices that influenced the cottage’s shape, massing and materials.

The roof had to be steep. Snow loading in the area is among the greatest in the province. The steep slope clad with steel roofing sheds water and snow effectively. The roof overhangs had to be wide. The more protection the walls have from driving rain and snow, the better they will stand-up over time. The wide overhangs also shelter the interior from the sun during the summer months. The Outdoor Living Area needed to be on the bayside for views, but we knew that frequently the wind off the bay would be too cool to really enjoy the space. Retractable Lumon glazing solves this problem, and an outdoor fireplace was incorporated to provide that extra level of warmth (and ambiance too!).

Lastly, knowing the cottage would be kept at a minimal heat level for the off-season, interior finishes were chosen to prevent the development of mold; the interior walls and ceilings are finished with wood planking, not drywall.


Roof Trusses

Definition: “A framework, typically consisting of rafters, posts, and struts”.

For residential construction in Canada, roofs up until the 1970’s, were usually constructed using conventional framing methods with rafters, ceiling joists and collar ties. This building method limits the spans between bearing points and consequently the size of rooms. The concept of constructing the roof with triangulated lumber joined together with galvanized connector plates was developed and patented in the U.S. by inventor, A. Carroll Sanford of Pompano Beach Florida in 1952.

Modern roof trusses are assembled in manufacturing facilities, transported to the building site and often craned into place. They can clear-span between the perimeter walls, allowing for larger, more open room designs, particularly in areas of great snow loads. This roof system has proven to be faster and more cost effective than earlier conventional framing practices. It also uses much less material and less labour cutting and fitting materials at the job site.

There are circumstances that trussed roofs are not used. A conventionally framed roof may be the best solution when the zoning of a property restricts the overall height of a structure and the second floor space is required to be built within the roof. And there are some building sites where the servicing road is too narrow or bending to accommodate the long transport truck carrying the trusses.

For more technical information on trusses, the Canadian Wood Council website has some great links. Go to

NEWS! Life Home Design is the recipient of the AATO 2014 Award of Distinction for a residential project over 2500 square feet. The winning residence was featured in the Fall 2014 issue of Seasonal. If you want to see it, or any previous Seasonal newsletters, they are now uploaded to my website

In this Summer Seasonal, we’re heading to Cottage Country, Georgian Bay! The featured cottage is an addition and renovation. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots will not disappoint! And fire up the BBQ for my homemade burgers!


When Lori found this rugged 70 acre parcel of land on Georgian Bay with its 30 year-old cottage, it was love at first sight. The property has an extensive, sheltered bay frontage, and the cottage had, what you have heard me say many times, “Good bones!”. The block wall foundation had been constructed directly on the sloping Precambrian Shield rock. By removing the low slope roof and main floor walls, adding 130 square feet of living space, taller walls, a new trussed roof, garage and outdoor living area, Lori’s new cottage has transformed into a spacious, welcoming weekend getaway for family, grandchildren and friends.

Home Design: Jane Cameron, Life Home Design
Structural Engineer: Steve Boyd, Quaile Engineering
Builder: Dion Construction Ltd. P:705-375-0308
Interior Décor: Homeowner and Builder
Stone Supplier: Muskoka Rock Company
Wood Siding: Maibec Sidings
Steel Roofing: SemplerGooder Roofing Limited
Windows and Exterior Doors: LePage Windows
Window Supplier: Windows First
Stone floors: Muskoka Rock Company
Kitchen: Ed Osborne, Colgan Oak Ltd. P: 905-801-8181
Landscaping: Mark Sant, Cold Creek Contracting Inc., P: 416-200-4322

Homemade Burgers

This recipe has been adapted over years of experimentation. Never one to purchase premade burgers (come on, let’s face it!...most of them taste like cardboard!) it’s always homemade burgers at our house. And I’ve found the most amazing spice mix called ‘Burger Batter’ from Fire in the Kitchen Spice Company. Go to for fine food stores and butchers all over Southern Ontario that sell it. They also make (in Ontario!) the best dill pickles I’ve ever had.

Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes:
1 beaten egg
1/4 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. milk
Add egg/oats/milk mixture to:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
1 T. Burger Batter spice
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper to your liking

Mix well, form into patties and BBQ! Enjoy!
Other ground meats like chicken, turkey, and lamb work great as well, I just take out the milk (the extra liquid makes them more susceptible to falling apart on the grill).

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