House relocation part of housing crisis solution: report

Light House, an organization focused on advancing circular practices in the built environment, has released a report that outlines solutions for Canada's housing supply and affordability crisis.

Photo courtesy of Light House

Light House, an organization focused on advancing circular practices in the built environment, has recently released a report which outlines solutions to help deliver affordable homes for more Canadians, save thousands of homes from landfill and ease dire housing crisis through home relocation strategies.

The report, called A Blueprint for Change, outlines home relocation as a beneficial strategy for creating affordable, high-quality housing in Canada.

The report prioritizes home relocation over demolition and makes recommendations that could positively impact provincial and municipal government policy initiatives, help ease the demand for housing and reduce the environmental footprint caused by construction, renovation, and demolition waste, currently accounting for 25 per cent of all landfill waste.

“Affordable housing across Canada is a serious problem right now,” said Gil Yaron, Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives, Light House, and A Blueprint for Change co-author.

“It’s a tragedy that amidst the housing crisis we’re in thousands of high-quality homes across Canada are being demolished every year that could provide perfectly good, safe homes for families. Remote coastal communities, including First Nation communities, are also struggling with housing scarcity.”

According to the report, the cost to relocate a home is approximately $100-$125/sq. ft., while the cost of new construction can exceed $450/sq. ft, particularly in remote coastal communities where labour and materials are difficult to secure.

“Homes should not be treated like garbage. We have been relocating homes for more than 65 years, and we see our greatest environmental impact through relocation,” said Jeremy Nickel, president of Nickel Bros House Moving Ltd.

“Unfortunately, due to the fatigue of fighting government regulations, some companies have abandoned house relocation as a service altogether. We need all levels of government to help create further incentives and standards for the responsible and sustainable re-purposing of homes. We also need developers, realtors, and homeowners, to learn about, and consider relocation instead of defaulting to demolition. A Blueprint for Change is a great guide for enabling policy changes, and we’re happy to provide our support to Light House.”

Photo courtesy of Light House

Nickel Bros has relocated and diverted more than 35 homes in Metro Vancouver from landfill over the last year. The median price for a Nickel Bros relocated home is under six figures and can be as low as $25,000.

This July, Nickel Bros will save and relocate five homes in Coquitlam, B.C., which will preserve up to 360,000 kgs of embodied carbon, according to the report.

One of the five homes being relocated includes an 11-year-old, Executive Two Storey home, which will be taken from 637 Aspen in Coquitlam and relocated to Hwy 101 in Powell River.

“Reducing construction and demolition waste is a top priority and I fully support prioritizing house relocation strategies,” said Craig Hodge, Coquitlam city councillor and chair of The National Zero Waste Council of Canada.

“These five recycled homes will provide new, affordable housing to members of our community, and the developer, Foster Living, did the right thing by exploring the option of relocating these homes with Nickel Bros instead of just demolishing them. The lots these homes are moving from are planned to turn into 49 new townhomes in West Coquitlam. This, to me, is a great example of how all players in the housing industry can come together to create positive change for society, create more housing, and take the environment into account at the same time.”

A Blueprint for Change is funded by Vancity Credit Union and Nickel Bro House Moving Ltd.

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