Home In the news Views from the Cottage, Orr Lake

Views from the Cottage, Orr Lake


Everyone knows that it can be very lucrative to renovate an investment property and resell it or just update your home and enjoy the benefits of your labour of love. Many look for tired and worn-out residences and bring them back to a former glory. Perhaps they rent them out for years and plan to retire easily on the ‘down the road’ sweat equity. Whatever the impetus, you can be proud of your accomplishment and reap many rewards.

In the countryside, a long, long time ago, I bought my first ‘fixer’. Prices were low and interest rates were high (20-22% were not unheard of) but in those days, you could still buy a home for under $40,000.  As I was starting out small, the price tag of $21,000 for a tiny, two-bedroom, century home constructed with an 1850’s log timber foundation on bare earth, seemed just the ticket!

As we gutted the single storey, stucco structure, it was fascinating to read the ancient newspapers that padded the exposed wood frame walls (some as early as the late 1800’s). Sadly, they shredded as fast as they were freed. I’m just citing this one experience because I learned a very valuable lesson very early on with this project. When forced air heat is not an option due to space and other considerations, you have no choice but to go electric base board. Discussions between spouses can have many outcomes and try as I might to have that larger heat unit placed in the pump room, the decision to leave the smaller one in place won out on a warm, sunny afternoon in September. With new insulation, wiring, drywall, windows, kitchen, washroom and a whole groovy, updated décor, our new tiny house was born.  We moved in to our cozy new paradise with two toddlers and our Australian Shepherd.

Changeable winter weather is a great teacher it seems. Drafts can appear out of nowhere and the snow at the back door in those days could pile up higher that the shiny new doorknob. Despite the hours spent shovelling out the long, winding driveway (pre-snowblower, at least for us), the winter wonderland proved a delight for the kids in the sleigh as we slid them around on our spacious half-acre lot.

Back to the lesson. On a cold, cold, cold – and did I mention very cold minus 25-degree (Celsius) January night – the well water pump froze. As I got up that next morning to fill the kettle for a much-needed cup of tea, it was a little perplexing to see the tap just spitting air. I knew right away what had happened and a quick peek into the utility room greeted me with the sight of two copper pipes split but also joined by a six-inch tube of ice.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised by this, or the fact that a big ‘I told you so’ was being carefully wrapped, ready for any occasion. I just let out a big sigh, put on my coat and boots and scavenged a big pot of the now plentiful snow to melt and heat up on the woodstove.  It was the woodstove that I insisted had to be the focal point in our country kitchen. Make do was my middle name (still is). Truly though, the next discovery really drove home the valuable lesson about ensuring your plumbing will withstand a January deep freeze. I ventured into the washroom to grab a few towels and, low and behold, the toilet bowl was now a mini ice rink. I swear I saw the little mice that hid in the back wood shed, now twirling in circles with glee and sipping hot chocolate along the sidelines. Ok, that was a stretch but in the end (pun intended), plan for all eventualities for any investment or the term ‘frozen assets’ may be in your future!

After a day of melting snow for water, we were happy to see the damage repaired and a larger heater installed so this was not going to be a yearly event. Later that week, I discovered the neighbouring vacant lot had an actual outdoor well with a working hand pump. Now that would have been nice to know sooner, lol! As for the ‘I told you so’ gift; it never got delivered but I think the message did. Heh heh.

I’ve spent many, many years helping clients buy, sell, and/or stay put.  I hope to answer any questions you may have so feel free to email me. One common query of late: “Should I buy first and then sell, or sell first and then buy?” I’ll address this question in the next issue so stay warm and stay tuned!

Melanie Martyn, Broker and dreamer

Tune into 740am radio Saturday mornings 8:30ish for Mel’s deal/tip of the week!

Queries welcome so email The Mel at homes@melaniemartyn.com



Kayla is a 2 year old Shepherd / Heeler cross who was abandoned while still with puppies. She cared tirelessly for her litter but now the puppies have all been adopted and she has mourned this loss I’m sure judging by her picture.  She is house trained and almost crate trained. She has been practicing her basic obedience skills while hoping to find her own forever family.

Kayla is great with people and children but can be particular about her dog friends. She loves gentle play and would prefer to spend time with another low-key dog or dogs.

Outrun dogs are vaccinated, dewormed, defleaed, microchipped and spayed/neutered. The adoption fee is $650 which helps to cover these costs. An application form can be found on their website at www.outrunrescue.com where you can see Kayla and other hopeful adoptees! Thank you for spreading the word!

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