Building a business by thinking small

A vision of a micro home community by the Kalum river north of Terrace comes to light at business expo

That's Penny Dobbin below and Lynne Harrison in the loft of a Humming Micro Homes abode on display at this year's Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

Living in miniature homes among the boughs of coastal trees by a glacier-fed river might sound like a dream conjured by Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane in the 1960s but it’s also the vision that one alternative housing company is bringing to Terrace

Spurred by a shortage of affordable housing, partners Ted Allsopp and Gareth Roberts of Hummingbird Micro Homes feel they can meet a need with custom portable abodes, which are distinguished from their larger mobile home relatives by the craftsmanship of their build and exceeding compactness.

The partners have purchased property by the Kalum River on Hwy113 about 10 kilometres north of Terrace and plan to start a 15-20 micro home community with communal living areas and also rental and short stay homes and cabins.

“There are different reasons,” said Allsopp of why someone might go micro. “A lot of people want to make their life simpler. In a microhome you just can’t have a lot of stuff. You have to think about everything you put in there in the limited space. A lot of people are downsizing and part of that is being able to live mortgage free, to not have that big mortgage on an expensive home, and have less work to do around your house. It doesn’t take long to clean a microhome. You can turn off the heat and if you don’t have those big mortgages and those big financial responsibilities you can travel more or do whatever else you like in life.”

There is also an aspect of green living combined with a community-building philosophy.

“We are going to have communal gardens, so if people want to do some gardening that option will be available, there will be hiking trails, a volleyball court and a horseshoe pit, and a kids zone as well as other amenities like a barbecue gazebo,” said Allsopp.

“We are going to have a common area for people to use if they want to have a potluck dinner or some guests in.”

Micro homes, like mobile homes, are built on a frame which can be towed on the highway but they are built on the same principle as houses.

Their dimensions are petite – a maximum 18 feet long, 8 feet wide and 13 feet high. Some are built bigger but those dimensions are the legal limit of what can be pulled on B.C. highways without a special permit.

Solar power equipment can be installed and geothermal is being looked at too, said Allsopp.

The homes average between $35,000 and $40,000, he added, depending on size and features.

The company would also charge a pad rental and tie into a utilities system that is currently being constructed on the unrestricted land.