John Beck thinks there is a market for an upscale kind of “tiny house.”
“Maybe just a little bit bigger and better than a tiny home, something elegant on wheels,” said Beck, as he guided a reporter through a 420-sq. ft. house nearing completion on a Langley property, a few days before it was about to be officially unveiled for the first time by Rolling Bear Cabins Tiny Homes.
The rustic-style “Black Bear” log cabin design is built on a custom-made three-axle trailer and includes a loft area, master bedroom, full bath, full fridge, French doors and high vaulted ceilings.
“We thought it was important to have vaulted ceilings so that when you’re in a smaller home it would feel a lot bigger,” said Beck as crews rushed to complete installation of cabinets and bathroom fixtures before the June 30 open house.
Beck, a resident of the Semiahmoo Peninsula who has 12 years experience as a residential builder in Richmond, as well as 20 years in landscaping and development, said the Rolling Bear Cabins target market is people looking for a starter home or a recreational property.
Beck said he was one of four people behind the Rolling Bear Cabins concept, the others being Luke McDonald, Mike Fournier and Margaret Rose of West Coast Gardens.
“We saw that there was a need for more affordable housing but at the same time (for) something people can feel comfortable (living) in,” Beck said.
“I think a lot of people are downsizing and finding simpler and happier lives.”
Rolling Bear has three blueprinted designs ranging from 200 sq. ft. to the 432 sq. ft. flagship.
An even bigger model is in the works.
Prices are expected to range from $89,000 to $175,000 or more if buyers want to add extras like solar panels or a steam bath.
Beck said the company plans to help find waterfront locations for buyers who want to use the homes as recreational properties.
As housing prices continue rising, tiny houses are seen by some as an affordable alternative for younger and lower-income buyers.
Stats show people aged 25 to 31 years old earn an average salary of about $38,000 a year, which translates into a typical maximum homebuying budget of about $203,000 — at a time when the aggregate Canadian home value sits at about $605,500.
The BC Tiny House Collective defines a tiny house as a home on wheels or foundation within that size that “has the amenities of a dignified permanent home: kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area.”
Because it is a new type of housing stock that has only recently been introduced, regulations for a tiny home can vary from place to place.
Some BC communities like Grand Forks and Tofino reportedly allow them while others, like Vancouver and Squamish do not.
Supporters of tiny houses are lobbying for changes to the laws to provide consistent standards and eliminate confusion.
In Canada, the Tiny Home Alliance website cautions a tiny house on wheels (THOW) may be regarded as a recreational vehicle, which can prove problematic if local regulations only allow an RV to be used as a “three-season dwelling,” not a year-round residence.
While THOWs are often compared to RVs, the difference is the tiny homes are built to last as long as traditional homes and use traditional building techniques and materials.
The Canadian Recreation Vehicle Association (CRVA) website notes its members “do not manufacture, produce or distribute any unit described as a “Tiny Home”, a “Tiny House”, a “Tiny Park Model” or a “Tiny RV” and therefore cannot provide any assurances or comments on their manufacturing process, components or consumer safety.”