The Globe and Mail
“This dream Muskoka cottage boasts panoramic lake views and prefab materials”
When Sean Nakamoto decided to build a cottage in Huntsville, Ont., in 2016, his wish list was unusual for the area. In a place where mega mansions prevail, he wanted an intimate 1,800-square-feet escape for his family (smaller than many of the boathouses on the surrounding Muskoka lakes). More importantly, he wanted the job done super-fast. The goal was to be complete within 12 months so that he could enjoy the shoreline views from his secluded peninsula in a proper home, not the Airstream he previously parked on the otherwise vacant lot.
Nakamoto knew the timeline was ambitious. Several local architects told him that even a compact project would take at least two to three years due to the tight building seasons and shortage of trades in the region. He also knew that expediting would require risks, including an innovative building approach. But his background helped prepare him for the challenge. He’s the co-president of Mohawk Medical, a real estate investment trust that specializes in health-care facilities. As such, “I’m always hearing about new building materials and approaches,” he says. “Architecture has always intrigued me and I love learning about new technology.”
Researching quick construction methods, he figured his best bet was to use a prefab system. “I read a lot about modular buildings,” Mr. Nakamoto says. “They are made in controlled envioronments, so don’t have to wait for rain and snow.”
He came across a Toronto-based firm, Altius, with substantial experience in prefab. The studio had previously used it to build on difficult sites–craning modules onto a narrow, 12-foot lot in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, for example, an area that is otherwise hard to build in because of its high density of existing houses. Altius also used prefab on an island in Northern Ontario, where it was easier to assemble the elements off-site and transport it in by barge, as opposed to camping a construction crew in the wildness for long stretches of time.
For the design, Mr. Nakamoto worked with…
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