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Check with Local Bylaws Before Doing Muskoka Renovations

Any project at home is exciting, whether you’re building a new deck, installing a new fence, or even just doing some tree removal, there’s nothing as exciting as making your property perfect. This excitement makes it very easy for homeowners to overlook some of the necessary steps that inevitably come with the job, including checking local bylaws and filing the proper paperwork.

Skipping these steps is never a good idea, and can put a major damper on your home improvement projects, incurring significant fines and even forcing you to reverse much of the work you’ve done. In order to avoid these penalties, it’s important that you check with local bylaws before commencing any work on your Muskoka home or property.

 

A recent cautionary tale: Township of Muskoka Lakes building bylaws

Muskoka home and cottage owners can learn from a recent news story which saw a number of property owners and contractors in Muskoka Lakes charged after failing to check with local bylaws before removing trees and altering landscapes. As a result, a number of Stop Work Orders were issued to the parties, and they could even face charges of up to $320,000. For context, the Tree Preservation Bylaw in Muskoka Lakes clearly states that:

  • (a) No person shall injure or destroy a tree within 15 metres (50 feet) of a navigable waterway for those lands designated as Waterfront in the Township Official Plan and within 7.5 metres (25 feet) of a navigable waterway for those lands designated Urban Centre or Community in the Township Official Plan;
  • (b) No person shall injure or destroy a tree within an area zoned Environmental Protection (EP1) in the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law;
  • (c) No person shall injure or destroy a tree in an area zoned as a Scenic Corridor or Scenic Area in the Township’s Comprehensive Zoning By-law within a distance of 100 feet from the front lot line
  • (d) No person shall injure or destroy a tree on land where a permit is required to do so, unless such permit has been obtained in advance

 

Had the homeowners and contractors simply checked with the Muskoka Lakes bylaws before starting work, they would have noticed the Tree Preservation Bylaw and could have planned accordingly for the landscape alterations. 

Muskoka Lakes Mayor Phil Harding stated that the problem of failing to comply with township bylaws has become all too common, and that homeowners across the township can face serious fines for failing to check and comply with them. He added that the 2021 budget has accounted for increased bylaw enforcement. It’s clear that these homeowners are being made an example of in the hopes that other property owners will think twice before kicking off a project without the proper permission.

 

Better to ask for permission than forgiveness – not the other way around 

It’s never a good idea to waste your own time and money. While it might seem like the quicker, more convenient option, the “do it now, ask for forgiveness later” mentality can cost you a great deal of time, money and effort. 

The amount of effort it takes to look up local bylaws and fill in the appropriate paperwork to obtain the appropriate permits is minimal. You don’t want to start a home improvement project only to have a Stop Work Order issued, a fine levied, and then having to tear down all your hard work.

Be aware that Muskoka bylaws exist for a reason, and all home and cottage owners in the Muskoka region are expected to follow them. Before you get too excited about that upcoming deck or dock construction, hot tub installation, private road work, or any other project, be aware of these bylaws and building permit requirements. You should also be ready to answer to bylaw officers and other authorities who may make an appearance during your build. 

 

Don’t become a cautionary tale 

Spare yourself from becoming another cautionary tale and do the work ahead of time – it’s never the most fun part of a project, but you’ll be thanking yourself for being proactive and ensuring that everything is okay to proceed before launching any work on your property. Whether you’re building, renovating or altering your property, there may be bylaws which dictate what you can and can’t do, and it’s expected that you comply with them regardless of their popularity.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the premier provider of high quality windows and doors and reliable installation services in the Muskoka region. Our experienced team has worked with home and cottage owners, builders, and contractors from all around the region. We use our expertise and industry knowledge to improve the aesthetic appeal and energy efficiency of hundreds of properties. To find out more about the high quality products and door and window installation services offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, reach out to us today.

Fibrex – A Revolutionary Material to Replace Vinyl

For many years, vinyl has been the gold standard in the window and door industry, offering low-maintenance but high quality products that homeowners have come to rely on for holding up to the elements and keeping the weather outside where it belongs. While vinyl is still a popular choice, Andersen Windows & Doors recently introduced a composite material that builds on the strengths of vinyl, but offers a much stronger, higher performing alternative in the form of Fibrex.

Fibrex material is a truly revolutionary material that could soon unseat vinyl as the material of choice for door and window manufacturers. If you’re in the market for an upcoming window replacement, consider the following before you decide on which material to choose.

 

What is Fibrex material?

Andersen’s Fibrex material is a revolutionary alternative to vinyl, offering twice the strength as traditional vinyl materials, with the ability to withstand extreme temperatures without the risk of fading, peeling, flaking or blistering. Simply put, Fibrex material is stronger and more durable than any pure vinyl product on the market, making it the perfect material for the strongest, most efficient windows.

Fibrex is made from a perfect mixture of wood fiber (40% by weight) largely reclaimed from Andersen manufacturing, and thermoplastic polymer (60% by weight), some of which is also reclaimed from manufacturing processes. The result is a material with unparalleled strength and durability, allowing Fibrex material to retain its stability and rigidity no matter what the weather is or what climate it’s installed in.

The strength of Fibrex doesn’t mean that aesthetic beauty is sacrificed, either. In fact, because of the sheer strength of Fibrex materials, window frames become narrower, allowing for more surface area for glass so you can enjoy a more seamless view of your surroundings. Fibrex is available in a wide variety of great colour choices, with many dark exterior palettes not available in other windows.

 

Why is Fibrex superior to vinyl?

Aside from being stronger and more durable in general, Fibrex’s unique blend of wood fiber and thermoplastic polymer allow it to block thermal transfer far more efficiently than aluminum, reducing your heating and cooling bills and keeping the weather outdoors where it belongs. Fibrex materials have no wood preservative treatments and no painting is required, meaning it reduces VOC emissions.

Fibrex is up to twice as strong as vinyl materials, ensuring that all weathertight seals on your windows stay weathertight as intended, holding up to all climates. Its superior strength means that it’s resistant to flaking, peeling, pitting, corroding, rotting, decaying and fungal growth, letting you enjoy your windows for many years to come. Andersen’s Fibrex material windows go through a unique fabrication process to blend materials with colour, offering a long-lasting beauty you can rely on to enhance the beauty of your property.

 

Still a place for vinyl windows

If you’re dead set on choosing vinyl windows for your upcoming window replacement project, there are still manufacturers delivering the highest possible quality vinyl windows. Euro-Vinyl Windows and Doors are one of the industry’s leading names in high quality vinyl windows, offering home and cottage owners a maintenance-free solution with the ability to dampen sound, maximize comfort during the winter and summer seasons, and hold up to even the most severe weather. Vinyl windows still play a crucial role in the door and window replacement industry, offering homeowners an affordable alternative that will continue to perform to the highest standards for decades to come.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka Region’s source for all things Andersen Fibrex material windows and Euro-Vinyl high quality vinyl windows. Our showroom is home to the industry’s most trusted names, and our team of window installation professionals are ready to take on projects of any size or scope. To find out more about how Muskoka Window & Door Centre can transform your home or cottage with Fibrex material windows or high quality vinyl windows, get in touch with us today.

General Muskoka Bylaws & Regulations You Need to Know for Your Muskoka Property

Muskoka Lakes, and other districts in Muskoka, have several property bylaws that ensure homes are kept to a minimum standard. While we have already covered renovation-specific bylaws, these are further things you need to know. 

These bylaws help keep our neighbourhoods and lakes clean and safe. You should be familiar with them and understand your responsibilities as a Muskoka resident to avoid any violations. Some of the most common standards for all properties in the region of Muskoka are listed below. 

 

Waste & garbage disposal

Depending on where you are, waste is either covered under the District Municipality of Muskoka or your local town bylaws or regulations. Here are all of the waste collection rules for the District Municipality of Muskoka. 

All garbage, refuse, and ashes are required to be placed in the suitable container and made available for removal. Each dwelling unit will be provided with a sufficient number of suitable receptacles to contain these disposals that may accumulate on the property, but be sure your receptacles are maintained in a clean and odour free condition at all times. 

 

Roof standards and snow/ice removal

Bylaws for roofs may be dependent on your specific municipality. Below is an example of a property standards bylaw from Muskoka Lakes. 

A roof including the fascia, soffits, cornice, and flashings is required to be maintained in a watertight condition. Under the Muskoka bylaws, you must promptly remove any excessive amounts of ice or snow from the roofs to prevent the leakage of water into your property. 

 

Safe passage and signs

Similar to the bylaws in any city, exterior driveways, steps and walkways must be maintained to afford safe passage under normal use and weather conditions. In addition to this, signs must also be mounted in a safe manner to prevent any hazard to persons or property. 

 

Fire alarms and detectors

The owner of any Ontario property is required by the Ontario Fire Code (Fire Protection and Prevention Act) to have a fire alarm or fire detection system. These systems should be maintained in good working order.  

 

Yards and vacant property

Backyards and any vacant property must be kept clear of all objects or conditions that might cause a safety hazard. Your property should be kept clean, cleared up and free of all garbage, waste material, refuse or other debris.

 

Windows and doors

Windows, doors, skylights and basement or cellar hatchways, must be maintained in good repair, be weathertight and reasonably draught-free, to prevent heat loss and infiltration by the elements. 

Maintenance for your windows and doors includes painting, replacing damaged doors, frames and other components, window frames, sashes and casings, replacement of non-serviceable hardware and reglazing where necessary. The screening of your windows and doors should also be maintained in good repair. 

Old and failing windows and damaged doors are problems that should be addressed as soon as possible in order to comply with the Muskoka property bylaws. Unfortunately, many cottages come with windows and doors much older than 20 years. If you’re planning on repairing or installing new ones, it is highly recommended they be handled professionally. 

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s preferred supplier of high quality window and door products. Our expert team is ready to take on door and window installation projects of any size, from small to large. For a free estimate, get in touch with us today and book an appointment. 

How to Find a Good Contractor

We can’t always rely on our own skills to get the job done, that’s why so many homeowners are in need of a good contractor to see those home improvement projects through. Not everybody is well-rounded enough to be able to tackle difficult repair or maintenance projects, nor does everybody know a contractor or have one in their immediate circle of family and friends. Then there’s the issue of how exactly to find a good and reliable contractor in the first place, especially if you’ve never dealt with one before.

Making the wrong choice can leave you wishing you had just done the job yourself, can do more damage than good, or can leave you feeling burned and taken to the cleaners. Thankfully, with some persistence and the right know-how, finding a good contractor is easier than you think.

 

Ask people you trust

The first thing you should do in your quest to find a reliable contractor is to turn to the people you trust the most. Ask your family members, friends and neighbours who they recommend, and what kind of experiences they’ve had with local contractors. If they’re willing to make recommendations or warn against certain contractors, you can trust that they’ve already done the research and you can use this to expedite your search. Referrals are one of the best ways to track down high quality contractors, especially since the people giving those referrals can confirm that they’re already had positive experiences.

It’s also a good idea to ask business owners or professionals in your life for referrals. Trusted business owners or your accountant, lawyer, realtor, banker, plumber, electrician, or any other professionals you’ve dealt with can make excellent referrals, especially if they deal with contractors on a regular basis.

 

Do your own research

With information constantly at your fingertips, there’s just no reason not to do your own research. In addition to getting referrals from people you trust, it’s important to use the information available to you to your advantage. Look at online reviews on social media for a general idea of what people have experienced, but remember that you shouldn’t stop here because it won’t give you the full picture.

Once you’ve checked out the online reviews posted publicly, check to see if the contractor or business is listed with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). If they are, it means they’ve either paid for the BBB listing, or there have been complaints lodged against them. If no complaints show up on the BBB listing, keep in mind that it may have been removed after the contractor or business took steps to remedy or compensate the complainant. On the BBB’s website, you’ll be able to check for reviews to get an even better idea of what the general public thinks of the contractor or business.

After this, head on over to the official Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website and type in the name of the business or contractor in question. This will pull up any official court cases against that person or business, and give you a good idea of their history and reputation. If nothing comes up, then you might be in luck.

 

Finding good contractors in Muskoka

With these tips, finding a good contractor in Muskoka is easy. When you’re in need of a high quality contractor in the Muskoka region, it’s always a good idea to book in advance of the summer season whenever possible. This is the busiest time of year for contractors, and their bookings often start filling up by late April. If you miss the summer season, don’t fret – you can always book for fall before the snow arrives.

For a great local place to ask for contractor referrals, check with your local lake association. Lake associations deal with a wide variety of businesses and contractors, giving them a good idea who is reliable and who should be avoided. Whenever possible, handle cosmetic jobs and simple repairs yourself, as it’s often a better option than hiring a contractor if you live in the country – save time and money by saving contractors for the big repairs or projects you don’t have the skills to take on.

For projects involving door and window installation, repair, or maintenance, choose Muskoka Window & Door Centre. For years, our team has been the first choice for Muskoka cottage and homeowners looking for the best service and the highest quality window and door products available. We maintain relationships with a wide variety of reliable Muskoka contractors and builders, working alongside the very best the region has to offer to make your dreams come true. To find out more about everything the team at Muskoka Window & Door Centre can do for you, get in touch with us today.

How to Remove Water Spots from Windows

If you live or play in Muskoka, you know how frustrating it is to achieve a stain-free window, as 

hard water stains can easily build up over time. A normal cleaning process involving water, detergent, a rug, or squeegee is simply not enough in removing hard water spots. Instead, you’ll likely need to use one or more of the following methods to maximize your views this summer season. Here are some of the best ways to rub water marks off your windows: 

 

Using a vinegar solution

Vinegar solutions are an easy and effective way to remove any hard water spots from your windows. First, you need to fill a squirt bottle with half water and half plain white distilled vinegar and spray it onto the glass to fully saturate any stubborn hard water stains. Then, soak a rag in the vinegar solution and lightly scrub your window. Once you are done, remove the solution from your window with a paper towel or squeegee and follow it up with a wipe with glass cleaner to prevent additional stains and residue. 

 

Using other natural products

In case you need a substitute for vinegar, there are other natural alternatives you can use as a cleaning solution. Fresh lemon juice has the same acidic properties as vinegar, and can be equally effective for removing water spots from your windows. As odd as it may sound, you can even use toothpaste to get your windows squeaky clean and streak-free. Following the same process, apply either ingredient to your windows and lightly scrub them away with a rag soaked in water, using traditional glass cleaner afterwards to remove residue. 

 

Using abrasive cleaners

Abrasive cleaners such as baking soda are powerful cleaning agents you can use to remove stubborn, tough stains from your windows. First, wet the surface of the glass so that the water and the cleaner can form a sort of cleaning paste – this prevents scratches. Next, spread the paste onto the window and vigorously scrub the glass with a rag. Then, rinse the cleaner away with water and dry your clean windows – following up with glass cleaner if necessary – to prevent additional residue. Your window glass will almost look invisible when you’re done.

Water spots on your windows are difficult to remove, and do require special techniques to clean. If your windows are run-down even after a good scrub, then it may be time to replace them. Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s preferred supplier of high quality window products. Our expert team is ready to take on new window installation projects of any size or scope. For more information on our products and services, get in touch with us today and book your free estimate. 

What are the best window coverings for my cottage?

Muskoka cottage season is here! People from all around the region have opened up their cottages and are ready to start enjoying a summer full of relaxation and adventure. While you’re spending time at the cottage, you might find that your cottage window coverings just aren’t doing the trick anymore. After all, most of what we keep at the cottage has been long-discarded from our homes, or are old window treatments that require updating. If your window treatments were ordered from the Sears catalogue, it may be time to replace them. This summer is the perfect time to update them in favour of something more suitable for the cottage.

 

Best types of window coverings for cottages

Ideally, you’re looking for low-maintenance window treatments that won’t be a burden to deal with. The last thing you want to be on vacation is frustration, nor do you want to find yourself cleaning for hours on end, so try to choose something that won’t rapidly collect dust – especially during the off season. For this reason, conventional blinds might be out of the question for your cottage windows because there are two things they do well: block out sun and collect dust. 

Conventional blinds can become very dusty and dirty, especially if you’re planning on leaving your windows open all summer long and enjoying the breeze. Instead, look for something practical like roller shades, woven Roman shades, light linen curtains, or shutters. These are low-maintenance window coverings that’ll keep your cottage breezy and private, and keep pests and the elements at bay.

 

Our favourite cottage window coverings

When it comes to cottage window coverings, we think it’s best to strike a perfect balance between practical and easy-to-maintain and aesthetically pleasing. Many cottages have a purposeful rustic aesthetic, which is very easy to complement with the right window treatments. Some of our favourites coverings include:

  • Roller shades: These are perfect for adding to any rustic cottage style, offering highly practical function that is easy to clean and maintain, and lightweight enough to still let in a nice cool breeze. Roller shades come in a variety of styles and colours, operate smoothly, and offer complete privacy for those looking to get in a few extra hours of sleep or enjoy some late nights on the couch. Roller shades are also perfect for screened porches, letting you easily control how much light is coming into the porch and offering a nice privacy buffer.
  • Roman shades: Roman shades are a classic window treatment style, offering an elegant, clean look and simple function, letting you easily lower and raise the shades with the use of a cord. Roman shades come in many different styles, including fabric and woven styles. These window coverings are a DIY favourite for their simplicity, giving you the chance to put some of that old fabric to good use.
  • Shutters: Another low-maintenance choice for window coverings that are perfect for the cottage, window shutters are a great way to enjoy the light breeze and the sounds of your surroundings while greatly increasing privacy and making your cottage more comfortable in general.
  • Plaid curtains: What’s more rustic than plaid? Curtains are an effective way to keep the sun out of your cottage and increase privacy while still enjoying the gorgeous sounds of Muskoka.
  • Linen curtains: Adding a much softer touch to your cottage, linen curtains are a great way to add that extra aesthetic touch to any room. While they won’t do much in the way of keeping out the sun or improving your privacy, there’s something irresistibly beautiful and light about linen curtains.
  • Solar shades: A perfect choice for outdoor areas like porches, solar shades go a long way in blocking out harmful rays from the sun and keeping you cooler on a gorgeous day. Solar shades act as insulators, keeping you and your cottage more comfortable by keeping the sun out on hot, sunny days. Solar shades are available in various different styles, some of which are designed to let in more sun than others – choosing a high openness percentage will increase the transparency of the shades, whereas a low openness will let in less light through the shades.
  • Executive roll screens: Roll screens are a convenient way to keep any porch or patio cool, comfortable, and private. They can be conveniently rolled away when not in use, or even combined with a mesh and vinyl screen to give you the most out of your view while keeping you cooler and keeping out pests. Roll screens like those made by Phantom can fit just about any size window opening, making them the perfect choice for Muskoka cottage owners looking to enhance sun protection and privacy, and get more out of their time on the porch.

 

Window coverings go a long way in setting the tone and style of your cottage. They can also play a major role in how much you’re able to enjoy your time indoors and on the porch, keeping out harmful UV rays, cooling down your cottage, and letting the light summer breeze while keeping pests and inclement weather outside where they belong. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out this great gallery of cottage window treatments.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the number one provider of doors and windows in Muskoka. Our experienced team is ready to work with home and cottage owners, builders and architects to create the project of your dreams and enhance your view of the Muskoka region. Our showroom is home to the highest quality window and door products, including the Phantom Executive Screen, built to help Muskoka cottage owners enhance their experience and get more out of their surroundings.

 

For more information on the door and window installation services offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, reach out to us today.

Why You Should Move to Muskoka

The pandemic has changed so much about the way we live our lives. While much of the past year has been so difficult for all of us, a few positive things have come out of it. Perhaps the most significant change is that people who once felt shackled to their desks have now gained the ability to work from home. Not just that, but they now have the ability to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and head for greener pastures. The work from home revolution has seen many people leave the city in search for something more. Many of those people have landed right here in Muskoka, the place we like to think of as perfect.

There’s so much to love about this beautiful region. Not only is it close to the big city, but it contains so many naturally incredible sights and sounds, more events and get-togethers than you could imagine, and the chance to finally slow down and appreciate the little moments in life. There are many reasons why you should move to Muskoka if you have the opportunity, but these are a few of our favourites.

 

More affordable than the city

One of the biggest reasons why people are looking to get away from the big city and seek out smaller towns is affordability. Muskoka is perfect for young adults looking to get away from high-priced apartments, with plenty of well-priced starter homes available. There’s a misperception that Muskoka real estate is expensive, but when you start looking at homes that aren’t on lakes, the price point drops significantly. 

When you move to Muskoka, you can finally have a chance to enjoy things like big backyards and convenient drives to amenities, rather than towering skyscrapers, tiny patios, and seemingly endless commutes. Lower property taxes are another reason to consider Muskoka, making it somewhere worth living all year round rather than just a great summer destination.

 

One of the most beautiful places in Canada

In terms of natural beauty, Muskoka has it all. From its gorgeous clean lakes and flowing rivers to the region’s many jaw-dropping forests, Muskoka will continue to take your breath away year after year. Each season presents beautiful new scenes, too. Have we mentioned fishing? You can start your engines at any one of the public launches at any lake in Muskoka and fish the day away. World-class trout, muskie, bass – you name a freshwater fish, it’s waiting for you to catch it in any one of our lakes or rivers. Just make sure you get your license like a good Canadian. 

There’s nothing quite like seeing the leaves change in the fall season, or witnessing the entire terrain transform as it’s covered in snow. When the snow finally melts and winter turns to spring and summer, the flowing rivers, green trees, and other sights and sounds offered by the region will leave you hungry for adventure. 

 

Endless opportunities for outdoor recreation

Outdoor adventures can be enjoyed by just about anybody, and it’s one of the things Muskoka is most famous for. Muskoka is famous for the nearly endless amount of outdoor activities available to residents, no matter what season or temperature it is. 

From spring to fall you can enjoy the hundreds of hiking and mountain bike trails found across the region, rent a boat and take it to the lake for a beautiful day on the water, dive in for a quick swim, head out with your friends on a canoe, kayaks, or paddleboards, hang out on the beach and take in the scenery, relax by the dock, or discover the terrain on an ATV. When it comes to getting outdoors and enjoying the region’s unrivalled beauty, your imagination is the only thing holding you back from an unforgettable experience.

 

Never a dull moment from winter to summer

Not only is Muskoka famous for its beautiful scenery and endless outdoor adventures, but also for its rich culture and for the sheer amount of activities happening all year long. Whether you’re into grabbing a beer at one of the region’s booming craft breweries, experiencing some of the finest dining in Ontario, going for a shopping trip in one of our historic downtown areas, or seeking to grow your knowledge at a local museum, there’s something for everybody in Muskoka.

We like to think of the region as offering nearly everything the big city does, but without the big city anxiety. All year long, rain or shine, you’ll be able to catch a live music performance or a theatrical production, check out the many offerings created by our local artisans, take part in the region’s rich arts community, or shop for things like records, books, and specialty items at our local businesses.

Whether there’s snow on the ground or beautiful blue summer skies, there’s always something to do in Muskoka, no matter what your interests are or what kind of adventures you’re looking for. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, offering something special to just about everybody out there. Once you make the move to Muskoka, you’ll be wondering what on earth took you so long to get here.

Muskoka Window & Door Centre is the Muskoka region’s premier supplier and installer of high quality windows and doors. Our team has decades of experience in helping home and cottage owners get the very most out of their property. To talk to a member of our team about an upcoming door or window installation project, get in touch with us today.