However, I was only able to find one review on this product online, another blog written in 2011 with a youtube video. Their cottage looked almost the same, but the 2012 model had some differences, mostly in window placement.
That one review had a postive outcome, though some minor criticisms along the way, so we decided to make the purchase, and also to write our own very thorough review to help others who might be looking to buy this item.
So here is a quick rundown of how we rate the Cedar Cottage (on a 5 star basis), followed by a detailed review of each rating .
Price: 5 stars
Material quality/durability: 4.5 stars
Instructions and labeling: 3 stars
Ease of Construction: 1 stars
Quality of finished product: 4.5
Overall Rating: 4 stars
The unbeatable price and the wonderful finished product make all the crappy instructions and difficult construction mostly worth it. :D It has a very high ceiling! A 5'7" person can stand inside it without quite touching the ceiling. The floor space is also generous, at just over 4'x4' interior. You can fit a few kids in there, even tall ones, no problem. The door is very small though.
The price is hard to beat at $269.99. You can hardly get a cheapo plastic playhouse half this size for that price, and we found NO other wooden playhouses in this price range. What can I say, for this item, the price just cannot be beat.
So we get the box home and open it up and take out all the parts. My husband spends about half an hour or so going through the parts list and making sure everything is there, and organizing it all. Here is our dining area (my sewing area was completely unreachable!! lol) with all the parts:
Instructions and labeling:
The labeling of the pieces was not very good, many of the stamps on the boards were almost unreadable. The instructions were pretty bad. We suggest you take some time to watch the construction demo videos provided on the company website. Even with experience (and both of us have real field construction experience), the diagrams and instructions were sometimes difficult to follow. Take the time to sort through all the pieces first, and make sure you have all the parts, and get things organized before you ever pick up a screwdriver.
Ease of construction:
This got our lowest mark and you may wonder why.
The cottage comes partially constructed, and we do mean partially. The 2 large roof pieces, the front door, and the shuttered windows are the most complete, almost everything else must be built from scratch. We suggest that you have some construction experience under your belt (pun intended!), or at least the help of someone with building knowledge before you tackle this project. It certainly can be done, but this is not a project for a beginner, or for a single person. At some points, 2 people are really necessary! Total construction time was around 10 hours for my husband (pretty experienced), and he needed my help for about 2 hours of that.
The instruction book calls for:
My husband put about 3/4 of the house together without the power screwdriver (it was charging), but really, they aren't kidding. We estimate around 500 screws are included with this, so either have a power tool or a very strong arm....
If you don't have the rubber mallet, wrap some cloth padding around a regular hammer or the end of a large, heavy flashlight (really, this worked for us!), and you can get the pieces in without any splintering.
The first day, James managed to get all the walls up without any help from me. It took about 4 hours to get to this point. It was raining outside, which didn't help.
The second day, James pushed himself hard and finished the entire project. Getting the roof on required 2 people. The windows are inserted after building the walls, hence the need for a rubber mallet (to gently pound them into a very fitted space).
Quality of finished product:
We admit, it has a lot of wonderful details, and is very sturdy and roomy! The chimney, the many windows (shuttered, bay, dormers, and a serving window with a bench outside!), the flower boxes, toy phone, stove, and removable sink with faucet are all great features. My daughter loves the removable sink, as she can put real water in it, pretend wash dishes or cook with it, then dump out the water and repeat. She also just loves being able to wash her hands outside after playing with the bugs. :)
The serving window tray area is wide enough to actually place a small plate on, so our daughter is eating lunch out there almost every afternoon now. The bench is very sturdy, and holds my 170lb husband without wobbling (though he won't make a habit of sitting on it, just in case).
A day or so later, we made it to the local craft shop and purchased some fabric flowers (and a hummingbird, and some bees, lol).
The flower boxes have drainage holes, so they can be used for real flowers, but we wanted something that would look nice for her year round.
Lastly, I purchased some swivel end style curtain rods, and am currently making curtains for the front door window and for the serving window. Since we live in western Oregon, we do get frequent rain, and I think some curtains over the largest windows will make it usable even in the rain. I will add a picture of the curtains when I get them done!
In the end, our daughter loves it, and it was really worth all the work and headaches. She is spending hours a day playing in it, and we would highly recommend it to anyone who feels they can handle the construction portion of this project.
Note: It does come with a ridiculously heavy metal self advertising plaque meant to be mounted on the front.... Yeah, we left that off. :D