Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 14, 2024
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Tiny Towns

A pair of industrial designers quietly toiling away in Bloomfield have a tiny answer to the affordability crisis
<p>Tiny Home by Instead</p>
Tiny Home by Instead

A pair of industrial designers quietly toiling away in Bloomfield just might have an answer to the affordability crisis.

The co-founders of Instead, Lee Loewen and Payam Shalchian, are designing and building small, prefabricated, energy-efficient tiny homes as secondary suites, garden homes, or for young families and couples.

Lee Loewen and Payam Shalchian of Instead. (Photo: Kassandra Melnyk)

“We are aiming to have an impact — no matter how small — on the local housing crisis by introducing more diverse housing types,” Mr. Shalchian explained.

Instead is at work on a 520-square foot, two-bedroom unit in their shop in the Storemore complex, at the site of the former Baxter’s tomato cannery in Bloomfield. 

Both Mr. Loewen and Mr. Shalchian had a frustrating path to home ownership, and simultaneously arrived at a time and place in their lives with a shared desire to find solutions to home affordability.

“We started to think about a business that focused on non-traditional housing solutions. With our industrial design backgrounds we said, ‘Let’s look at it as a product’.”

Examining North American tiny home trends, the pair initially focussed on the mobile models taking the U.S. market by storm. They designed and built a prototype (P01) that Mr. Loewen and his family lived in after moving to the County. Pine accents, thoughtful designs and plenty of head space make its 262 square feet of living space seem ample.

The one bedroom + loft is built on a heavy-duty trailer and measures 8.5 x 32 feet and 13.5 feet high. It comes turnkey ready. It features sliding glass doors, two skylights, a three-piece bathroom and a full-size bedroom. A small footprint doesn’t diminish the natural light beaming in. 

A universal rule of tiny home living is to maximize any and all available space. That means the loft, a sleeping area above the kitchen, can house a queen-size mattress.

Model tiny homes will be on view at an Open House May 4 at Instead’s shop at 8 Stanley Street in Bloomfield.

Mr. Loewen said designing, crafting, and then living in the tiny home offered a tremendous learning opportunity. “We know what it’s like to live in a tiny home and, as a result, we can design better tiny homes for our clients.”

The other learning curve was about financing. Instead’s first crack into the tiny home industry qualifies as a recreational vehicle. That means the $189,000 price tag can’t be financed through a regular mortgage. 

Municipal rules, also, limit where a mobile home can serve as a primary residence. Right now, says Mr. Lowen, the real limitations of the homes are not about size or functionality but municipal zoning bylaws.

Provincial legislation has yet to establish a tiny home building code, and the province’s townships are a patchwork of different by-laws and regulations. 

“A lot is determined on a case-by-case basis and by what bylaws and municipal rules are in place. County Council removed the minimum square footage part of the by law. We sensed, after they visited us at our first build, that there is an openness from Council to this concept,” said Mr. Loewen.

Nearby, the two-bedroom L01 is expansive when compared to P01 but the same thoughtful design and careful construction inform this 13 feet wide x 40 feet long x 11.25 feet high home. The module can be placed over either piers, ground screws, a slab or on a basement foundation. 

“If it sat on a basement that could be finished, with an interior stairwell, you can really stretch the space,” Mr. Shalchian said. “It also has the ability to be modular if you want to expand the footprint outward at a later date.”

An 8’ galley kitchen, combined living and dining space, and an adjoining bathroom with laundry are flanked by a pair of bedrooms. All systems — 100 amp electrical, HVAC and water/sewer — are contained in the center.

L01 is finished with appliances and fixtures and remains cozy even in the most mighty of Prince Edward County gales. Instead uses high performance building products in all their builds. The L01 features triple pane windows and custom cabinetry and a heat pump. It starts at $249,000. “We know these units aren’t cheap but we feel they are built exceptionally well.”

The pathway to both municipal building code approval and financing services is also much more straightforward than P01.

“We really see these units becoming popular as secondary suites or auxiliary dwelling units that can serve multi-generational living purposes. They can be placed on land you already own and be housing solutions for either young, adult-aged children that are just starting out, or for aging parents that want to live closer to you,” Mr. Shalchian explained. “These are well designed, carefully crafted houses for people in Prince Edward County looking for the right answer to their housing needs.”

Tiny and modular homes come in a variety of styles, quality, designs and price points. lists four builders between Cobourg and Brockville, including Instead.
Adorable Adobes in Codrington offers 
non-mobile 368-square-foot modular units that start at $68,000 without fixtures or appliances. In Athens, Redwood Homes’ designs include a 400- square-foot 
prefabricated 2-bedroom model for $215,000. The Hudson comes with baseboard heaters, an electric fireplace, three-piece bathroom and kitchen cabinetry as well as appliances.

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 15 edition of The Picton Gazette
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