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Could Cowichan housing solutions be THIS simple … and attractive?
Island-made DIY homes answer need for smaller affordable housing
Every day we hear how incredibly expensive and virtually unattainable basic housing is for so many people.
The result is young people mortgaging their lives for the dream of their own home, sky-high rental costs for all and increased homelessness. While government-led solutions like social housing and increased densification – strata projects, secondary suits, laneway housing, etc. – can help, high land costs and excessive permitting requirements are roadblocks.
Clearly, smaller, simpler, more affordable housing is needed.
The question is, ‘How much space do you really need to live well?’
Cobble Hill’s Peerless Forest Products has unique – and stylish – approach.
“We’re kind of going back to the way houses were once commonly built: smaller-footprint, simple rectangular structures where a second floor or loft can be included or added as very low-cost living space,” says Peerless founder Jim Lambrick, who has spent more than 50 years in the local forest industry and creating quality products from local materials.
So what’s Peerless doing differently… and why is it a solution?
For more than a decade, Peerless has supplied post-and-beam-style kits primarily directed to backyard sheds, barns and utility applications. They’ve also designed and supplied complete houses.
That experience prompted the creation of the Cowichan Bunkies and Off-the-Grid Cabin Kits, useful for a variety of emerging needs – especially in communities like Cowichan, with many larger properties and acreages. Possibilities include revenue-generating short-term vacation rentals and rental units for rural properties, off-grid cabins and recreational properties, and, yes, one part of the solution to housing shortage issues.
The new Peerless Post-Pedestal Structures, currently ranging from the 107-square-foot Bunkies (no permit required in most jurisdictions) to 800 sq. ft. cabins, are primarily applied to residential uses. Here’s why it works:
- No complex or expensive foundations needed – The post-pedestal design uses structural posts extended to poured concrete footings. In remote sites, where concrete is expensive and challenging, this allows for simple local mixer pours. In locations such as flood plains, low-cost screw pile foundations are also possible.
- Solution for challenging sites – Well-adapted to steep slopes, rocky and difficult sites, the design is particularly suited for wet or flood-prone areas – just elevate the entire house on concrete post pedestals to suit the local risk. The floor is suspended from the posts and when the whole unit is framed in and sheeted, it makes for an incredibly strong box-like structure that can be moved if required.
- Practical benefits – The heavy post-and-beam style kits, assembled with heavy screw fasteners and structural connector plates, offer a timber frame look without the timber frame-intensive labour cost. For ongoing savings, the steep-pitched roof is ideal for solar panel installation, optimizing solar collection in low sun seasons and clears snow cover faster.
- DIY friendly – Get the basic structure kit and do the rest yourself! Inframing between posts is standard 2×4 or 2×6 to suit specific customer requirements. Ideal for using cheaper recycled components such as doors and windows.
- Design flexibility – The Post-Pedestal concept allows for bed-lofts or a complete second storey, and traditional covered porches or decks to increase available living space at low added cost. Give your new home a custom finish with Peerless’s Shou-sugi-ban siding, barn board, solid wood flooring and paneling, all Canadian-origin solid wood products sourced from local suppliers. In fact, ALL Peerless interior and exterior finishing products are 100 per cent unique, local and not available at big box stores.