Is­land goes mod­u­lar

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Properties Recreation & Investment - MARTY HOPE CAL­GARY HER­ALD

To heck with con­form­ity — Bish­ops Walk is go­ing mod­u­lar. As if to play sec­ond fid­dle to the mag­nif­i­cence of the sur­round­ing nat­u­ral beauty, Vis­ten Homes has cre­ated mod­u­lar home de­signs that will blend with the unique­ness that is Salt­spring Is­land, B.C.

Lo­cated off the coast of Van­cou­ver Is­land, Salt­spring is home to a unique com­mu­nity of artists and in­di­vid­u­als who have cho­sen to live there be­cause of its beauty and un­spoiled nat­u­ral charms.

The 12-hectare Bish­ops Walk project has been mas­ter-planned by de- veloper Three Point Prop­er­ties to com­ple­ment a spec­tac­u­lar set­ting perched on the slopes of Mount Belcher above the vil­lage of Ganges.

In all, there will be 29 homes at Bish­ops Walk and as many as 26 could be Vis­ten homes on lots rang­ing from 1/10th to one-half hectares, each with vil­lage, ocean and coun­try­side views.

The an­nounce­ment that Vis­ten has

joined the Bish­ops Walk fam­ily comes as the re­sort and recre­ation prop­erty mar­ket is work­ing its way through the eco­nomic down­turn, says Chris Hobbs of Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty.

“Re­sort and sec­ond home mar­kets will of­ten fol­low the lead of their ur­ban or more pri­mary res­i­dence-ori­ented coun­ter­parts in terms of warm­ing up af­ter a slow­down,” he says.

That’s what’s been hap­pen­ing at Bish­ops Walk this year, with a typ­i­cally strong spring mar­ket gain­ing mo­men

tum when sum­mer ar­rived.

“We’ve ex­pe­ri­enced a re­cent flurry of buy­ing ac­tiv­ity and feel this mo­men­tum will con­tinue through the fall be­cause of very strong ur­ban mar­kets in B.C.,” says Hobbs. Vis­ten’s new way of de­sign­ing and build­ing homes is part of a larger trend that is sweep­ing North Amer­ica as peo­ple are looking to “live more with less,” says ar­chi­tect Craig Tay­lor.

“The McMan­sions of the past decade are now giv­ing way to smarter, smaller homes that of­fer a much higher de­gree of liv­abil­ity, flex­i­bil­ity and sus­tain­abil­ity,” he says.

Built by Freeport In­dus­tries, the Vis­ten homes be­ing pre­sented at Bish­ops Walk range from 856-square-foot, one-bed­room homes to ones with three beds, two baths and a den that mea­sure 1,430 square feet.

Prices range from $499,000 to $649,000, while lots are from $259,000 to $479,000.

“Vis­ten Homes are not your grand­par­ents’ mod­u­lar homes — in fact, they prob­a­bly shouldn’t even be lumped in with most peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of mod­u­lar homes,” says Becky Julseth, mar­ket­ing man­ager for Three Point Prop­er­ties.

“The Vis­ten look was also very ap­peal­ing for Salt­spring be­cause it has a real world­li­ness and the Vis­ten de­signs are very clean and so­phis­ti­cated. It’s also some­thing dif­fer­ent — an un­ex­plored niche and one that fits well with our com­pany’s com­mit­ment to sus­tain­able build­ing prac­tices.”

The homes are a take­off on the grow-home con­cept in­tro­duced sev­eral years ago by Montreal pro­fes­sor Avi Fried­man whereby mod­ules can be added as the need arises. Vis­ten de­signs have also al­lowed for plenty of cus­tomiza­tion.

Hobbs sees the three con­fig­u­ra­tions as a good fit for the is­land.

“Is­lan­ders have al­ways been known for their re­laxed life­style, their pas­sion for art and de­sign, their use of lo­cal prod­ucts and their de­sire to live a life in bal­ance with na­ture,” he says.

Set­ting aside the unique home de­signs, the op­por­tu­nity for cus­tomiza­tion, and the de­sire to of­fer po­ten­tial buy­ers some­thing that sup­ports the is­lan­ders’ vi­sion of non-con­form­ity in life­style or hous­ing styles, there is also a prac­ti­cal as­pect to the move to mod­u­lar homes.

Con­struct­ing on Salt­spring can be a chal­lenge for buy­ers be­cause a stick­built home takes a great deal of time to build, says Julseth.

“Manag­ing this process from a dis­tance, say from a home in Cal­gary, can be a real chal­lenge,” she says.

Be­cause the homes are fac­to­ry­built, many of the typ­i­cal con­cerns with house­build­ing are avoided — no weather de­lays, less waste, bet­ter qual­ity con­trol and a shorter construction sched­ule.

The homes have been de­signed along clean lines with earth­tone fin­ishes and com­po­nents, large win­dows and the ap­peal of plenty of out­door space.

The in­te­ri­ors are high­lighted by vaulted ceil­ings, open-con­cept floor plans and a func­tional ap­peal.

“Vis­ten homes pare it down to the truly vi­tal el­e­ments, cre­at­ing a more sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing at home,” says Tay­lor.

When the home ar­rives on site, it can be brought to lockup stage within weeks, says Bish­ops Walk project man­ager Nick Neacsu.

“This di­rectly trans­lates to some very real cost sav­ings to the buyer and be­cause it is built in­doors, it makes for a health­ier build­ing over­all.”

The ap­peal of mod­u­lar hous­ing is grow­ing in Canada, ac­count­ing for 11 per cent of all hous­ing starts — an in­crease from 10 per cent a year ago.

The Vis­ten homes will share the Bish­ops Walk land­scape with tra­di­tion­ally-built homes in the is­land com­mu­nity.

“The di­verse range of hous­ing op­tions and styles that ex­ist on Salt­spring is a re­flec­tion of the eclec­tic and of­ten well-trav­elled pop­u­la­tion that calls the is­land home,” says Hobbs. “A com­mon thread may be the de­sire to kick con­form­ity.”

Some of those well-trav­elled peo­ple are from Al­berta, along with oth­ers from Vic­to­ria, Van­cou­ver and Kelowna, he says.

Cour­tesy, Three Point Prop­er­ties

Mod­u­lar homes de­signed for the Bish­ops Walk de­vel­op­ment near Ganges on Salt­spring Is­land, B.C., will have views of the ocean.

Cour­tesy, Three Point Prop­er­ties

View from Bish­ops Walk to the vil­lage of Ganges on Salt­spring Is­land.

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Craig Tay­lor

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