If you’re a cottager, and you’ve reached that age when your children or nieces and nephews have suddenly morphed into preteens and young teens, I’m predicting that a bunkie may be in your near future.
If you’ve never heard of a bunkie, you’re not the only one. It’s a word I first heard at a friend’s cottage north of Kingston, Ont. It’s a small house, often with one room, that essentially serves as a place for guests to sleep when they come stay at the already overflowing family cottage.
I think it’s especially handy when children grow into adult-sized people who can no longer fit handily into the pull-out couch or cot in the corner of the “family” room at the cottage. Plus, they really don’t want to be housed in the same room as their parents anymore, and let’s face it, the feeling is mutual.
That’s why a bunkie may be just the thing to give everybody their space.
Of course you can get elaborate if you wish, but then it’s really not a bunkie any more, but a guest cottage. Nothing wrong with a posh guest cottage, but the average cottager has always known that it’s not really cost effective to have a large guest cottage, complete with plumbing and other amenities, because you must pay property tax on a structure that’s empty part of the time. If you can make it useful for multiple purposes, such as a winter storage area that is used as a bunkie during the summer, or a boathouse with “attic” accommodations, go for it.
Or, just embrace the traditional bunkie — a small place big enough for a couple of fold-up bunkbeds, or a small sitting area with a ladder leading up to a teeny sleeping loft in the rafters.
The advantage of a small bunkie is that it can be cost effective if it is small enough not to require a building permit. Most municipalities do not require a building permit for any building below 10 square metres or 108 square feet.
If you go the bunkie route, the cheapest option is to build it yourself, if you’re handy, preferably with recycled windows and doors. Another great option is to buy a bunkie or cabin kit. Check out Bolton, Ont.-based Duroshed (duroshed.com) for well-priced options. For example, Duroshed sells basic bunkie kits (12 X 9) and assembles them for prices starting around $3,500 and upwards, plus tax and delivery in Ontario.
Toronto-based Summerwood (summerwood.com) also sells very attractive bunkie kits and ships throughout Canada, and prices generally reflect the higher-end look.
It may be worth it. Just think — you’ll be enjoying quiet nights at the cottage with only the distant noises of madly giggling preteens in the middle of the night.
– Sylvia Putz is a journalist with an interest in decor and design. She’s written for the TV show Arresting Design; firstname.lastname@example.org.