By Laura Keil
Local builder Douglas Miller of Wild Montane Construction wants to offer an alternative for new homebuyers and those looking to build a granny suite.
He’s developed plans for a 400+ square foot house that will save buyers at least 25 per cent from the cost of a regular build. On top of that, the house is highly energy efficient, with air tight walls and a heat recovery ventilator, meaning the heating needs can be easily met with electric baseboards.
For Miller, the idea sprung out of a feeling of responsibility to the next generation of homebuyers, many of whom are being priced out of the market.
“With this generation of millennials coming out and the job market not allowing that anymore … if you want a small home and you’re under 35 and you and your spouse don’t have a $100,000 job each, there has to be a different way.”
While in previous generations, families could build their own home, living in the basement while they finished the upstairs and doing it mostly by cash, in recent times, the market has gone more towards bigger and bigger prefinished homes.
“My perspective is you’re just increasing your debt,” he said. “What’s wrong with building a smaller home with the design to add more bedrooms as your family grows?”
400 square feet is the minimum size for accessory dwelling in the Village of Valemount. In the Regional District the minimum is 600 sqf minimum for accessory dwelling, which can be achieved by attaching a module onto the basic design. Two additional modules – a living room unit and a bedroom unit – can be added either at construction or down the road. Adding these would also help the house meet the Village of Valemount requirements for a principal residence.
He says the cost is about 75% of the square foot cost of a standard build.
“From my perspective, they’ve getting better value because it’s a custom-built house, but was designed with efficiencies in mind to get your square foot cost as low as it can be.”
While construction would take place on site, the home would remain movable, a selling feature for people who may wish to relocate or build a bigger home later.
“It has everything you’d need, not necessarily everything you might want.”
He says people can add modules to it down the road as their needs change or “as the cookie jar fills up.”
As far as the design, he said simplicity was key to the cost savings.
“Sure we could put rooflines and that, but it adds to the cost. We’re trying to get it as simple as we can.”
Miller says he is nearing retirement and wants to focus purely on “special projects of benefit” to the Robson Valley.
He hasn’t built a prototype of the small house yet, but he’s keen to serve residents anywhere in the Robson Valley.
“I’m looking for the first person.”
Miller can be reached at 250-566-5090.