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Massive Coquitlam house among five being moved instead of demolished

Moving houses greener than knocking them down and makes a lot of sense, says a Coquitlam developer, and buying a re-purposed home can be cheaper.

Looking for an affordable new home without the cost of construction?

A company specializing in house moving is making sure perfectly good homes will go to new owners instead of being torn down.

And, in Coquitlam, five homes are being saved by moving them instead of knocking them down — including a massive house with eight bedrooms.

The 637 Aspen St. residence is so big, it’s being partially taken apart before it is relocated.

Nickel Bros., with offices in Port Coquitlam, is taking on the challenge of moving the five houses for Foster Living, which needs to free up the space for 49 townhomes, called The Grove, at the corner of Foster Avenue and Aspen Street in Burquitlam.

Homes on blocks, ready to move

Four homes, located at 639, 641 Aspen St. and 574, 582 Foster Ave. are being moved early in the morning of July 19 and July 21 and a fifth home at 637 Aspen St. in mid-August to make way for the Grove, a 49-unit townhouse development by Foster Living.

For developers, moving homes on properties slated for re-development is a way to reduce the environmental cost of demolition and construction.

Foster Living’s Chris Yen said moving the five homes is a huge undertaking and took months to arrange, but is better than tearing them down.

“You move a house to reduce carbon and reduce landfill waste, it aligns with our company values,” said Yen, who lives in Coquitlam.

He said Nickel Bros. approached his company and offered to relocate the homes for the same price it would have cost to demolish them.

However, time was of the essence because Foster Living needed them gone before it could get fourth reading for a development permit and moving houses takes longer than simply demolishing them.

Fortunately, Nickel Bros. was able to follow through and the houses will be moved in the nick of time — development permit approval is taking place July 31 and most of the houses are being moved this week.

Four of the five homes, mostly 1960s era bungalows, are being moved over two nights.

The final house, the eight-bed, eight-bath, 5,000 sq-ft. Aspen Street house is taking a little longer and will be moved in early August.

The Whistler-style, stucco and rock-face home was built in 2011 so it makes sense to re-use the building, rather than knock it down.

Cost of relocation recouped in sale

According to Foster Living, they are the first developer in Coquitlam partnering with Nickel Bros. to reuse the houses instead of demolition.

While it’s costly to move the buildings, costs can be recouped by selling the structures.

Nickel Bros. offers several homes of various sizes and price points on its website.

You can purchase one for about a third of the cost of new construction.

However, according to its website, while the prices include local delivery and installation, prices may vary based on final location, site accessibility, utility line work involved and/or barging requirements.

You also need a lot to put them on, which is most of the expense. 

Still, Nickel is offering these homes at prices that could be affordable for some.

Moving greener than demolition 

Current listings include:

• $174,300 = a 1,383 sq-ft., three-bedroom, two-bathroom custom home with hardwood floors, available in the Lower Mainland.

• $112,500 = 1,030 sq-ft., three-bedroom, one-bathroom home available in Surrey.

Nickel Bros. owner Jeremy Nickel says knocking down homes to make way for new ones is not sustainable.

Every year, 3,271 single-family homes are demolished in Metro Vancouver, creating 100,000 kg of waste.

“Not only does home relocation safely preserve embodied carbon, but it also minimizes the need for new resource use,” Nickel states in a letter to stakeholders for the Coquitlam house move.

By relocating the Coquitlam homes, it’s estimated that tens of thousands of valuable building materials will be saved from the landfill, preserving up to 36,000 kg of embodied carbon, while also providing housing to new owners.

Foster Living’s Yen said he would recommend moving the homes rather than demolishing them and creating a lot of waste. 

“Our experience working with Nickel Bros. has been superb, they are really good at what they do.”