Questions We Are Often Asked.

Do I need to hire an architect?

Hiring an architect might seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if a builder assures you that his team can look after the design. He’ll go through stock plans, select a design that most closely matches your requirements and make some minor changes, such as moving a wall here or there.

But there are lots of reasons why hiring an architect is a sound investment, beginning with your desire for a one-of-a-kind home or cottage that’s tailored to you and your property. An architect will provide a detailed picture of how the project will turn out even before a single nail has been driven.

Lakeside Architecture’s creativity and problem-solving skills can take your napkin sketch to unimaginable heights, all while managing expenses. We’re uniquely trained to manage and coordinate structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, whose services are often essential. We’ll also provide a detailed cost summary of your approved design and a construction timeline.


What’s the cost of hiring an architect?

This is a common question but there’s no simple answer. Historically, fees for architectural services have been based largely as a percentage of construction cost, but as the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) recognizes, it’s impossible to assume the same professional fee will be appropriate for all projects, even if the projects are the same size and building type.

That’s why RAIC developed a 58-page document that puts clients, architects, engineers, educators and interns on a level playing field. The guide explores the scope of both basic and additional architectural services, different approaches to determining a fee structure and how architectural services fees can be calculated. The guide is available at the RAIC online store and may be helpful as you embark on your project.


What questions should I ask when hiring an architect?

Finding the right architect to help you bring your vision to life is an important investment. The American Institute of Architects has put together a list of helpful questions you should ask an architect.

Here’s a sampling:

 What sets your firm apart from other architects with similar experience?

 Do you have experience with the building type and size of my project?

 What challenges do you foresee for my project?

 What are the steps in the design process and how are they organized?

 What criteria will be used to establish priorities and make design decisions?


More Lakeside Answers:

How do I know I’m hiring the right architect for my project?

Building your dream cottage or home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make – from both a financial and lifestyle perspective. During your initial consultation, decide whether the architect you’re considering respects its importance to you.

Working with an architect who has experience with the building type and size of your project will prove invaluable. As our name suggests, Lakeside Architecture has extensive experience in lakeside retreats, including cottages and boathouses. We’re proud to share testimonials from a long list of satisfied clients.

Lakeside offers an impressive portfolio that illustrates our diversity. We were commissioned, for example, to design an addition to renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman’s iconic post-and-beam log wood cabin in Haliburton. At the other end of the spectrum, we designed a cottage that has been dubbed ‘the new Muskoka’ and is credited with pushing modernism to the extreme.

At what point in the project should I hire an architect?

We recommend hiring an architect as soon as you start planning your project. Some of our clients have even asked us to visit a site before they purchase it, seeking our expertise on practical considerations that would either encourage or discourage the development of their ideas, such as whether the site would require significant rock blasting.

Our pre-design services include site evaluation, which informs important initial decisions, including orientation of the cottage or house. Our philosophy to ‘not fight the site’ results in one-of-a-kind structures that seamlessly follow a property’s contours and elevations while taking inspiration from its surroundings.

You’ll benefit most from working with an architect early in the process because that’s when you’ll have the greatest impact on design and set the course for the entire project. It’s helpful to have someone who has experience on the type of building you want to construct and understands smart uses of budget on your team.

When you and the architect have fully discussed and agreed upon those items, prepare a written contract that outlines all of those factors. RAIC recommends the Canadian Standard Form of Contract for Architectural Services – Document Six, 2018 Edition (

How do I engage an architect?

It’s in your best interests as a client to have a definite understanding with the architect you hire about your respective obligations, responsibilities and expectations. The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) recommends you review the scope of the services to be provided by the architect, the projected time period for the work to be completed, the amount of the architect’s fees and the method of payment for the architect’s services.

When you and the architect have fully discussed and agreed upon those items, prepare a written contract that outlines all of those factors. RAIC recommends the Canadian Standard Form of Contract for Architectural Services – Document Six, 2018 Edition (

What steps does Lakeside Architecture take to realize my vision?

For starters, we offer ‘The Design Your Dream Workbook’ to help you describe and prioritize key aspects of your custom cottage, home or boathouse. Asking questions like what you consider special about your property and if any particular interior spaces should orient to a particular exterior view helps you realize your vision and helps us begin the design process with a clear understanding of your requirements, budget and timelines.

We conduct a feasibility study, prepare an initial design, and create 3D images and a simple basswood model so you fully understand the proposed layout, scale and look of the final design. Approved design drawings will include everything from scaled floor plans to the location of plumbing fixtures, doors and windows so there are no surprises, helping you avoid costly changes once construction begins.

Does Lakeside Architecture consider sustainability and energy efficiency?

Lakeside has extensive experience in green design – a term that can be difficult to define. Our approach includes being as environmentally responsible as possible, building for longevity, and building with the smallest carbon footprint and the lowest functioning energy consumption.

Every project must meet minimum requirements set out by the federal and provincial governments but there are lots of renewable energy solutions to consider. In the ‘Design Your Dream Workbook’ that we provide to clients, you’re asked whether you’re interested in alternative energy sources, such as geothermal, solar and wind. Although those add costs upfront, they can save you money in the long term. Your budget and how long you plan to keep the home or cottage will likely inform many of your decisions.

What kind of experience do you have building boathouses?

Lakeside has considerable experience building boathouses. When designed thoughtfully, they add charm to the waterfront, while protecting boats and water toys from the elements and providing ample space for cottagers and their guests to gather on the water.

Building a boathouse is rarely a simple undertaking. The structure may look like it’s floating on water but ensuring it doesn’t float away during a storm or flood is a technical feat that includes proper underwater support and foundations. Calculating the maximum bearing capacity of the foundations is based on a host of factors, including the water depth and the soil type under the water and along the bank.

What kind of approval is required to build a boathouse?

In most municipalities, cottagers can repair or even rebuild ‘grandfathered’ structures using the same footprint as the older boathouse but some jurisdictions have unique sets of rules. Building a new boathouse or looking for solutions for a ‘legal non-conforming boathouse’ can be a complex process but is manageable if you have the right people on your team.

Does Lakeside Architecture provide construction management services?

Through our sister company, Lakeside Construction Management, we will instruct and manage the build crew and conduct weekly site visits to keep your project on time and ensure you’re up to date on the build progress. If you choose the design-bid-build approach, Lakeside is happy to provide referrals for local builders, manufacturers and installers.

How can I help ensure my project turns out just the way I want?

The more engaged the client, the better the results. Be available to review drawings and material suggestions promptly. Ask questions. The better you understand the design upfront, the less likely you’ll be disappointed upon project completion. Be decisive. If you’re having trouble reaching a decision, let your architect know. He may have information or strategies that can help break the log jam.

Decide how you’ll communicate with one another and how often. Make the effort to get to know your architect and to let him get to know you. Having an easy, flexible, personal and personable process goes a long way to realizing your vision, pushing ideas further and overcoming any hurdles you may encounter along the way.

“James worked with my wife and I to create a beautiful, distinctive, and functional lakeside home which perfectly suits our site on the lake.”

David Chapman- Doe Lake Cottage

Design your Dream.

The Design your Dream workbook is a 68 page guide that helps you describe and prioritize the key aspects of your custom cottage, home or boathouse.  This guide will provide you with the essential starting point for envisioning, planning, and designing your dream cottage or boathouse. Button “Buy the Design Guide”

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