Tiny homes a way of life

Paul Mottishaw and Paul Lombard constructed this house that was displayed at the Comox Valley Exhibition. The Cumberland residents operate a business dubbed Coho Design Build.

Paul Mottishaw and Paul Lombard constructed this house that was displayed at the Comox Valley Exhibition. The Cumberland residents operate a business dubbed Coho Design Build.

Scott Stanfield

Record Staff

A pair of Cumberland residents are in the business of constructing tiny homes that are affordable, energy-efficient and mobile, with off-grid potential.

The custom-built creations of Coho Design Build co-owners Mark Lombard and Paul Mottishaw are typically in the range of 220-230 square feet, ideal for temporary living or downsizing. They stay cool in summer and warm in winter, employing energy-efficient LED lighting, and wood and electric heat.

“They’re typically considered temporary structures,” Lombard said. “It gets around having to buy land. I grew up in Nova Scotia. You can buy a house with two or three bedrooms and a little acreage for under $100,000. Here for $100,000 you’re not really even starting.

“The emphasis is flexible,” he added. “We build all kinds. We can build larger or modular houses for families, but we also build full, normal houses on a regular foundation, too.”

Lombard and Mottishaw work out of a shop on Grant Road in Cumberland. Ideally, they would like to build some houses that are 400 or 500 square feet that could join together to accommodate a family.

They are, in fact, trying to “build a new paradigm” around an affordable, energy-efficient life.

“Lots of people own land and have lots of area on their land that they’re not using,” Lombard said. “It’s becoming quite popular. Because they’re ultra-low energy-use houses, it’s relatively easy to just go to off-grid, or have small, clustered houses in a planned area like a trailer park.”

Some of the houses feature a composting toilet, though Lombard and Mottishaw need to be careful when it comes to regulations, and zoning and bylaws.

“It’s on a case-by-case basis,” Lombard said. “But one thing we’re noticing is that building and planning officials are starting to realize the benefits of looking at alternative systems like rainwater capture.

Same thing with composting toilets, it reduces the need for expensive infrastructure and make a closed loop permaculture, reusing biowaste and making it into something productive. I think a lot of municipalities and building officials are coming around to that.”

One house they constructed is partly insulated and finished using a ‘chip slip’ insulation and earthen plaster.

“Natural building is a big part of what we do, rather than using high-embodied energy materials manufactured far way. We try to use materials that are really local, like wood chips.”

The end result is a natural system where the “walls breathe,” whereby moisture goes into the wall when damp and comes out when dry. At night, walls contain heat but the house stays cool during the day.

All houses are customized. Depending on the size and quality of finish, the price of a small, portable home can range from $20,000 to $60,000.

On average, Lombard figures he and Mottishaw build two houses a year. The smallest they’ve built is 220 square feet and the largest is 1,500 square feet.

“We don’t go over 1,500,” Lombard said.

They also move and design houses, and do incremental improvements to houses already constructed.

For more information call Coho Design Build at 250-202-1509.




Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Proceeds from the sale of this 36x18” image of a grizzly bear in the water, by local photographer Viktor Davare, will go to the Salvation Army. Photo supplied.
Comox Valley Photographic Society showcased at next Pearl Ellis exhibit

Exhibit to double as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army

Shelter Point Distillery won several Canadian Whisky Awards this year, including a gold for best single malt. Facebook photo
Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery wins gold for single malt

Business won nine medals at recent Canadian Whisky Awards virtual ceremony

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

A WestJet flight on the runway leaving Comox. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Aviation company seeks contracted employees to fill former WestJet roles at YQQ

Menzies Aviation from Edinburgh Park, Scotland, operates in 34 countries across the world

A cougar was spotted Monday near Queneesh Elementary. (WildSafe BC photo)
Cougar sighted Monday near Courtenay school

Conservation officers are warning the public to avoid the wooded areas around… Continue reading

Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about phase two in B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization plan as Premier John Horgan and Minister Arian Dix look on during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. reports 438 new COVID cases, 2 deaths

Long-term care outbreaks are decreasing

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

Needles are seen on the ground in Oppenheimer park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on March 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s chief coroner says increased drug toxicity responsible for record overdose deaths in January

165 people – the largest number of lives lost due to illicit drugs in the first month of a calendar year

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read