Pre-fabricated coach houses manufactured in Comox Valley

Small Modern Living earned two awards at the Canadian Home Builders Association 2012 CARE Awards.

Small Modern Living earned two awards at the Canadian Home Builders Association 2012 CARE Awards in Victoria this year for their pre-fabricated Studio 37 Garden Suite. They won one award for Best Accessory Building, and another for Excellence in Creating Housing Affordability.

The exciting news for the Comox Valley is a shift of the company’s manufacturing base to Island Timber Frame’s facility in Cumberland.

“We toured Island Timber Frame’s shop last year and were impressed by how clean, organized and professional the operation was,” said SML principal Roger Lam. “The precision in their work was obvious and their knowledge of pre-fabricated construction has helped us streamline our manufacturing and delivery methods.”

Small Modern Living designs and builds coach houses — otherwise known as garden suites — and laneway homes. Both are small footprint, space and energy efficient buildings that are entirely manufactured in a factory, and shipped whole to a backyard or property for a quick and non-intrusive installation. Credit for design of these units goes to well-known Victoria architectural designer Daniel Boot of Studio DB3 who is one of three partners in the company.

“Many of my projects are on the lavish scale, and as rewarding as it is to create these beautiful homes, I wanted to design something that would present an environmental and economic solution for anyone,” said Boot.

The concept of small space living is not new, but it is becoming more mainstream with legislation being passed by municipalities all over Canada to allow for accessory or residential units as a secondary building on standard urban lots. The motivation for municipalities to allow such units is their need to plan for urban growth with creative solutions based on increased density rather than sprawl. More than 75 per cent of all residential lots in B.C. will allow a secondary residence or accessory unit based on these initiatives. In Comox, this topic has become central as the municipality is presenting the idea to the community for feedback.

Laneway homes and garden suites allow for increased population density in neighbourhoods without changing infrastructure or the nature of the community. They also offer a solution to increasing costs of living by allowing homeowners the opportunity to increase property value while creating a source of rental revenue with a rental suite.

Other uses for the units include office and studio space, recreational properties, guest accommodations, in-law or caretaker suites, or as a temporary accommodation while building a larger home.

Island Timber Frame is well known for its pre-fabricated approach to heavy timber construction and can be credited for many of the prominent timber structures around the Valley and countless residential projects. It has also built a reputation in Canada and around the world as its structures have been shipped as far as the East Coast and overseas to Indonesia, Japan and England.

Many of the ITF crew members have come from Switzerland where they worked in shops that manufactured panelized and pre-fabricated buildings to high standards of energy efficiency. ITF principals Paul Schaffhauser and Stefan Pletscher have been thinking about manufacturing these types of buildings for a couple of years. A meeting with the SML team last year presented an opportunity.

“Because of the cost of energy in Switzerland, buildings have to meet incredibly stringent energy guidelines and manufacturing has to be very efficient,” Schaffhauser said. “We are doing our best to employ the methods we learned back home to make the best quality units here in Canada.”

Island Timber Frame added a facility last year which has almost doubled production space, allowing them to manufacture SML’s units without interfering with timber frame production.

Production on SML’s units will begin immediately. The team has finalized construction plans for the Studio 37 Garden Suite in one bedroom, 400 square foot and two bedroom 500 sq. ft. models. SML has plans available for modular use of the Studio 37 units, two floor options and can custom-design a unit as needed.

For more information visit www.smallmodernliving.ca or contact Carl Tessmann at 250-898-1088.

 

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