Young entrepreneur Christopher Bauer wants to help solve Victoria’s housing crisis.
The 27-year-old draftsman launched Terra Floor Plans in March 2017, a company that sells cost-effective digital layouts for homes.
Although he has yet to see one of his plans transformed into a bricks-and-mortar building, he is dedicated to his mission. “I’m trying to address the rental shortage side of the housing crisis,” said Bauer, who is focusing on designing multi-family residential dwellings.
Initially, he targeted single-family, standalone homes but found little interest for his idea. Then, on the advice of Mayor Lisa Helps, he contacted Shayne Ramsay, the CEO of BC Housing, who underscored the need for multi-unit, multi-family apartments. Taking in this advice, Bauer reworked his offering.
“My designs now supply rental options for students, and units that can be subsidized by the government toward affordable housing for all,” he said, admitting that his company is a work in progress.
“We are not planning tiny homes or huge ones, we’re somewhere in the middle,” he explained, noting that his floor plans range from 480 to 3,000 square feet.
“My multi-family building can be built from a two-storey with six to nine units, up to a 10-storey with 54 to 57 units. The building design has co-housing built into it, where shared kitchens bring people from each floor together as a community.”
Included in the plans are exterior and sectional layouts, along with electrical and foundation plans. Roof framing is not included, best left to an engineer, Bauer said.
Terra Floor Plans also allows for reuse of its designs at no extra cost, “so this is a good option for developers,” he added.
While his designs are a less expensive option initially, he admitted they require a lengthier process to reach the final building stage.
“Architects usually charge two to five dollars per square foot to design, engineer and get a plan ready to build. Since I can’t do this – as a certified draftsman – I charge 30 cents per square foot, which is still competitive.”
Bauer, whose education came in environmental design at the University of British Columbia, is aware of his limitations. “I do understand architectural engineering, but I do have to get my designs signed off.”
“The idea is that a person, family or developer buys the digital floor plans and takes it to a engineer, who organizes the building permits and process,” he said. “Or you can go through the City and apply for permits yourself … My work is about providing more more affordable options.”
Find out more about Bauer’s designs at terrafloorplans.com.