Welcome to the Site of our Rocky Retreat

We bought a piece of property to build a vacation home! Check out the photos of the land and welcome to the site of our Rocky Retreat.

rocky retreat building lot

I have big news (and so many photos) to share.  The 411 is that we bought some property and will be building a cottage!  The plan is to use it as a vacation home, but we’d also rent it out too.  I’ve been trying to come up with a cute name for the project and went back and forth on a few.  (Eventually deciding to go with an RR à la rental renovation and raised ranch).  Today I’d like to welcome you to the site of our Rocky Retreat!

The name is very apt because there are rocks everywhere!  You’ll see some in the photos, but I think there are even more buried underground.

rocky retreat cottage lot intro

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have heard about this before. I’ll try to break down the who/what/why/where in detail here too.  Today will just be photos of the lot and what’s been done so far.  I’ll come back after our next project (kids’ room)  to share the design direction, floor plans and more.

When/Why Did We Buy a Property?

Our plan is to own multiple rental properties.  We were looking at a couple of houses in town as long-term rentals, but with a low inventory due to COVID (and increasing values/quick sales), it was harder to find those diamonds.  Plus, the Husband didn’t want to look at/consider house searching in the wintertime, so we put that on a bit of a pause.

lake in winter

Over the Christmas break, we were listening to the Real Estate Rebel Podcast and the episode about vacation properties came up.  The Husband said that we should start looking for waterfront properties instead.  He’s always wanted a house on the water (to retire), and we figured that’s where we would build our “forever house”.  But if we bought something on the water now, we could rent it out and use it as a vacation house too.  That way, we wouldn’t need to build our forever house on the water, and could just look for land instead.

listing photo trees

Surprisingly, there was a couple of water vacant land options available when we looked in January.  (We also considered buying a property with a cottage/home already, but nothing was available at that time).  The Husband checked out one property on a river that connected to a big lake, but it wasn’t perfect.  Then, we found two lots on a farther lake, went together and made an offer.  (The photo above is from the listing, but obviously, it looked much different in the winter).

trees on lot

We closed in mid-February, brought the family to explore it a bit more (on one of the coldest days ever) and have been planning things since.


We visited again on Easter weekend, tried to mark out the property lines and where the house would go.  I also dropped my keys in the forest, but thankfully we found them (like real thankful, ha).

What We Looked For in a Property

I’ve heard that it can take years to find a good waterfront lot.  (Well, when you’re looking for one with a house already).  There are a lot of factors that come into play, so I’ll mention a few things we wanted/needed.

waterfront lot

Our Criteria

  • Not too far a drive from where we live (this one is about an hour)
  • Serviced roads (ie: plowed in the winter)
  • At least 100′ wide at the water (not as picky about this as we’d be for our future house)
  • Not off-the-grid

rocky terrain

We ended up purchasing two separate 1 acre lots (listed together).  The plan is to build on the one lot, then we could either sell the other one or build again in the future.

Pros are that they were easy to get to (not far from the highway) and the two lots are a bonus compared to one.  They aren’t overly huge, and they’re on a big enough lake.  I also like that it wasn’t a boulder (this is common in the Sudbury area).  Cons included not having hydro/electricity (we are bringing it in), and maybe being a bit close to the neighbours?  You can see their house, and my only reservation is with any future/loud renters.

rocky retreat waterfront lot

Work So Far

After we had marked off the ground, we had our handy helper come in and start clearing the trees in that area.  (Our handy helper is the Husband’s dad BTW).

clearing trees

There were a lot of dead trees that also needed to come down.  Up until this point, you could only sort of see the lake from the street.  (Which is just under 300 feet away).

digging for house

He also started digging out the area where the cottage will go.  The front/street side will be dug in a bit (where the trucks are) and there will be a walkout in the back (lakeside).

creating driveway

When I went back last week to take some more photos, it was like night and day!  The haphazard driveway that was sort of on the street now goes all the way down to the lake.  There is gravel and sand/fill, and you can see the lake!

mound of sand

We tried to keep as many trees as possible, but we’ll see how it looks once they start to fill in.  (Scroll up to the listing photo to get a glimpse, ha).

kubota machine

I know the kids will love playing in the sand (and exploring everything, really), and I’m happy for the clear walk down.

creating driveway

The photo above shows the view of the lake up to the street.  The trailer is parked at the road, and the cottage will be in front of that.

lakefront view

Our actual lakefront is more marshy than anything, but I know that there are sandy beaches on this lake.  Again, I think it will look a lot different once things start growing in.

Moving Forward

I’m just finalizing all the little details for our cottage plans (in terms of submitting the permit).  I already know how everything is going to be painted/decorated, ha!  (Check out my Country Cabin Pinterest Board for inspiration).

hole for house foundation

We’re getting a geotechnical report this week to determine the best course of action for the footings.  (Rocky terrain and all that).  We already had someone come out and plan the septic and are pretty much just waiting on me/permits to begin work.

rocky driveway

Remember when I said that we’d have to get hydro brought in?  No one on the street has it, so it’s not as simple as getting a hookup.  We’d have to pay for them to run cables and put up poles, so it’s a significant expense.  We also can’t get that going until after our foundation is in.

future rocky retreat cottage

Oh, and we haven’t gotten our build mortgage approved/set up yet… so there’s that.  (And the big ‘ole COVID throwing a damper with business closures, restrictions and the insane price of materials).

If you want updates quicker, make sure to follow me on Instagram.  I’ll for sure be sharing more on the blog, but it won’t be until June or July (after the One Room Challenge).  Hopefully, I’ll have lots of updates in terms of the build (and not that we got held up, ha), but definitely more design details (including the floorplan!).

In the meantime, let me know if you had any questions, and/or if there was something you wanted me to cover next time :)

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