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The Big Question…Remodel or Rebuild a Lake Cabin?

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The Big Question… Remodel or Rebuild a Lake Cabin?
By Troy Prosa, TAP Architecure, St. Croix Falls, WI

Your cabin is a place for family gatherings, both young and old sharing life experiences like fishing and swimming. A place to get away from it all, take a break from the daily grind, and recharge the batteries. You might be a first-time cabin owner… or perhaps your cabin was handed down from parents or relatives. Either way, sooner or later, you are likely to want to make some updates to reflect your growing family or your changing needs. This will lead you to the Big Question: remodel or rebuild?

We’ve identified 3 factors for you to consider as you begin to answer this question. First, consider the quality of the “bones” of your cabin. What type of foundation does the cabin rest on, and what condition is it in? Does the cabin need updating to meet current codes and construction methods? Are your cabin’s plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems up to date? The quality of your home’s systems aren’t always visible to the eye, but are critical to the structure’s longevity. Yours may have been repaired or upgraded over the years… or not. How do those systems measure up against today’s standards?

If your cabin’s systems are reliable and modern enough to last well into the future, great! Cabins that have good bones, with relatively modern plumbing and electrical systems, are typically good candidates for a remodeling project. Or, if your cabin’s systems are outdated, now might be the right time to invest in the systems of the home such as updated electrical service and HVAC. Tying into an older system often brings headaches and extra cost, so you might find that rebuilding the cabin might give you more flexibility and lower total cost.

Second, think about the size of your cabin. Your lake home may have been intended to sleep one family, but the demand to lodge extended family or friends is all too common. Have parents and kids developed needs for greater space and privacy? Is the structure too small for the growing needs of your family? If the overall size of the cabin meets your needs, that’s a good start… and remodeling can help you optimize the space you already have while maintaining your current setback. Or, if the size of your cabin doesn’t meet your current needs, you have options! Rebuilding your cabin gives you the most flexibility, but you could also consider remodeling and/or adding to what you already have. Either way, there will be setbacks and height requirements to consider, but working with an experienced architect can help you find a way to expand up and/or out to capture valuable square footage you don’t have today.

Third, assess the use of space within your existing walls. Your cabin might be an adequate size for your needs, but if the rooms are small and disconnected, or if they don’t make the most of the views, your home isn’t delivering its full potential. Collaborating with an architect can bring your dreams to life, whether you need to enlarge your square footage or just make better use of the space you have. Does your cabin use the space well? If yes, that’s great news. If you don’t need to change much about your cabin’s use of space, you’re likely a good fit for a simple remodeling project. Or, if you’re unhappy with the overall use of space, an architect can help you maximize both views and square footage.

When your cabin is ready for remodeling or rebuilding, hiring an architect will help ensure you’ll meet your goals. Architects can provide a vital role in helping to access existing structures and property conditions, and also provide options to consider through collaborative design process. It might seem a bit overwhelming to consider a major remodel or rebuild of your cabin. But when you partner with an architect that specializes in cabins and lake homes – like TAP Architecture in St. Croix Falls – you’ll be in good hands. A licensed architect can walk you through the detailed pros and cons of rebuilding vs. remodeling, then design a solution for you that suits your specific goals.

Taking the right steps and considering your options – along with great design – can be an exciting and fun process that will provide lasting memories for current and future generations to to come. Whether you want to modify your existing cabin, add on to the existing structure, or tear down and start over, an architect can help make your cabin meet the needs of today… and the future.

Troy Prosa is the principal architect at TAP Architecture, which specializes in architectural design for high-end lake homes in Wisconsin and Minnesota. TAP collaborates with clients to transform their vision into innovative, modern, thoughtful home design.  Learn more at tap-architecture.com.

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