One of the fastest growing First Nation communities in Manitoba thinks that tiny homes will be just the right fit to meet their housing demand. By the end of 2017, Long Plain First Nation will have 12 new tiny homes — each measuring 11 metres long by 7 metres wide — that will house single people and couples. The homes will be transported to vacant sites in the community in about six months. The project is cost-effective as each home costs less than $100,000 to build.
This is the first tiny home project in Manitoba to receive support through CMHC’s Section 95 (Non-Profit Housing) program.
Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches describes the innovative project.
What’s the appeal of tiny homes?
A CMHC presentation on tiny homes over a year ago really tweaked my interest. The homes we are building come standard with spray foam insulation, radiant floor heating, infrared panels and a fire suppression system. The compact layout has everything a person would need. Plus, the high-quality construction will mean lower energy costs.
Who will benefit?
This housing serves a segment of our population that is often overlooked and facing some challenges. We have a six-bedroom transition home for singles. Many others are living with relatives in overcrowded conditions. If we put people in a house that’s larger than they need, we’d face criticism. Since we have so many singles and couples, the one-bedroom model is ideal. It’s a way to help more people.
Describe the construction process
Starting in early July 2017, six homes will be built at once inside our hockey arena. We’ve never done assembly line production before, but this will improve quality control and reduce theft of materials. The co-owners of the construction company will live here for six months and oversee construction. We have two foremen on site and have hired 14 locals. We’ll use a trailer system to transport the houses to sites throughout the community. We’re using existing lots that are now vacant due to fire or tornado damage. We expect that everyone will be in their new homes by Christmas 2017.
Any special design features?
We live in a volatile region. Last July, a tornado destroyed dozens of homes. The tiny homes use a unique foundation system with piles driven into the ground. It costs a bit more, but will be much stronger to withstand weather conditions here.
Have you faced any challenges so far?
We spent an additional $10,000 to modify the overhead door of the arena so we could move the completed houses out.
How has the community responded?
People here are very excited. They’re interested to see how they work. We went through a vetting process with our housing staff to identify potential tenants. Many of the people we selected will move from the transitional housing. People have already started cleaning up the yards and getting them ready for delivery of the new homes.
After the first year, we will follow up to see how tenants are adapting to the housing model and look at energy efficiency. We expect hydro costs to be fairly low. Next year, we plan to focus on housing for 55-plus couples. Many of them are empty nesters.
We’re very excited about this project. We know it won’t meet all our current housing needs, but it goes a long way toward helping a large segment of our population that is often overlooked.