Island goes modular
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.
Modular homes designed for the Bishops Walk development near Ganges on Saltspring Island, B.C., will have views of the ocean.
View from Bishops Walk to the village of Ganges on Saltspring Island.