A Coquitlam councillor became a convert to moving houses instead of knocking them down after a successful move of his own.
Last week, Coun. Craig Hodge followed as Nickel Bros. relocated four homes in the city, taking pictures as they were trucked down North Road in the dead of night.
What might seem perilous was straight forward, and the homes successfully made it down the usually busy street to property near the Fraser River.
“I had seen houses moving before. I knew it was possible,” said Hodge, recounting the event.
“I always only considered it the context of saving heritage homes, not in the context of saving good usable homes in the middle of a housing crisis.”
Hodge cites a partnership between Foster Living, which agreed to move the homes instead of demolishing them and Metro Vancouver, which is storing them temporarily at its recycle waste centre near the Fraser River while Beedie Living is allowing access to the river from its Fraser Mills land, and support from the city.
He also credited Nickel Bros. which did the hard work of moving the homes, for the same cost to the developer as demolition.
But Hodge has seen Nickel Bros. on the job before.
He recently had the company move a home he owns in Qualicum Beach and was surprised at how easy it was.
Though the home wasn’t moved far, just put on a new foundation to make way for new house construction, Hodge said there was little he and his wife, Darla, had to do.
The move was so gentle, pictures remained hung on the walls.
“We moved it further back on property and raised it up. They moved it with all the furniture in it. Darla just zapped strapped the cupboards shut.”
Reducing construction waste the goal
Hodge is a strong proponent of saving and repurposing homes to keep construction materials out of the landfill.
As chair of the National Waste Council, Hodge said he’s aware that thousands of homes in the region could be thrown into city landfills to make way for higher density.
He believes 20 per cent of them could be saved and re-used — many with recent updates and made of good quality materials.
“The cost of moving a house cost is a quarter of the cost of building a new house,” said Hodge, who plans to rent out the house he moved on his Qualicum property.
He admits that moving houses can be challenging, especially when utility wires need to be removed, and says homes and properties near water make the best candidates, as it’s easier to barge them then transport them by truck.
Also, homes built in the 1960s might not meet current building code standards, said Hodge, noting that regulations need to make it easier to move houses between jurisdictions.
Homes knocked down in Oakdale
Still, Hodge is enthusiastic about the trend and believes moving older homes could help solve B.C.’s housing crisis, believing as many as 400 homes in Coquitlam’s Oakdale neighbourhood could be moved instead of knocked down.
“Much of the concern has been not approving housing fast enough, the industry doesn’t have enough capacity to build the housing — and we’re knocking down perfectly good houses.”
Meanwhile, one more house will be moved from property on the corner of Foster Avenue and Aspen Street in early to mid-August, according to Hodge.
It’s a custom home just 12 years old.
“These were homes people were caring for to live in for a long time.”