Moving out of your parents’ home is something every young adult expects to do at some point.
But what happens when life circumstances force you to rethink the proximity to your parents?
Esquimalt resident Lori Fenner was faced with just such a decision in recent years. She lived at her parents’ Dunsmuir Road home during university days in the early 2000s, using the home’s reconfigured two-car garage as a large bedroom.
And although she continued to live there after graduation, she didn’t expect it to be long-term.
A couple of years back, when her mother developed health problems that required closer monitoring, Fenner began to think about how she could stay nearby but enjoy a level of independence.
Around the same time, she was exposed to Small Modern Living, the brainchild of North Saanich-based architect-designer Dan Boot. The concept sees tiny modular homes designed and built to be both green and affordable – they’re priced in the $100,000 range.
Fenner discovered Boot and business partner Roger Lam exhibiting a model home at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre and was struck by its combination of simplicity and functionality.
“We thought we’d take it and run with (the idea) to see how far we could go,” says Fenner, who has worked closely with her parents on the plan.
Fast forward to this week. Fenner’s new 400-square-foot home, labelled Studio 37, was installed on the Dunsmuir Road lot near where the garage stood before being dismantled. The footprint for the new building is actually smaller, she says, but the styling and convenience inside are clearly an upgrade.
“It’s incredible,” she says. “When I walked into it I said, ‘this is a small-scale version of a dream home.’ It has granite countertops, a washer-dryer, stainless steel appliances – and the space feels a lot bigger than what you would think.”
The plan is to construct a level pathway between the main home and Fenner’s space, to allow her mother to come and go as she pleases, Fenner says.
Putting the new home in place wasn’t a slam dunk. While it didn’t require a building permit, it needed a couple of zoning variances approved first.
The word “innovative” was used in recent discussions about the project. It seems decision-makers in Esquimalt believe installing such modular-style homes as “granny suites” or an alternative to in-home secondary suites is a good strategy.
“I kind of like the idea that they’re standardized,” says Coun. David Schinbein. “All the electrical hookups are already approved. The only thing we have to worry about is the hookups to the services.”
While he sees the concept as a trend for the future, Schinbein says the practice will likely have its limits. “I don’t think you’d see the municipality approving more than one on a lot.”
Small Modern Living built two other projects this summer, one in Rockland, the other in Colwood. For more information, visit smallmodernliving.ca.