Skip to content

Big interest in little homes in Nanaimo

Strong housing market in Nanaimo has buyers looking for options
Bryan Newall and Jenny Papineau take a look at Rewild Homes’ tiny homes in south Nanaimo during an open house at Rona earlier this month. KARL YU/The News Bulletin

With small housing inventory in Nanaimo, tiny homes are an option that some are considering.

A tiny house is smaller than an average house, between 101 and 500 square feet, according to Tiny Home Alliance Canada.

Bryan Newall, a Nanoose Bay resident, is interested in building a tiny home and said there is a lot he likes about the dwellings.

“Just the price point of it really is one thing and the lack of waste in it as well,” said Newall. “The housing market is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I’ve been in trades for years and just see the trend of getting larger and more wasted space and more wasted resources and for really no reason.”

Jenna Adam said Nanaimo housing prices are “insanely high,” and while she isn’t in the market for a tiny home, it is something she would consider.

“We’re small-space people,” said Adam. “We don’t have a ton of possessions to begin with, so it appeals to us that way, but also being able to possibly live off-grid, or semi-off-grid, save some money that way.”

Janice Stromar, Vancouver Island Real Estate Board president, said Nanaimo has low vacancy rates and historically low housing inventory, which increases prices and makes it difficult for renters and buyers.

In Stromar’s opinion, the best use of a tiny home is as a carriage home. It is an option in lieu of a secondary suite and Stromar said it can help pay down a mortgage.

There are two options under single-family zoning, according to Stromar.

“You can either have a home with a suite in it, and it’s got its own rules as to what that can be, or you can have a single-family home with a secondary dwelling behind it and so it’s usually allowed on a corner lot,” Stromar said. “[The city has] reduced the lot size significantly and if it’s not on a corner lot, it should have lane access or be a bigger size.

“Mostly they’re putting them in houses that are downtown or central Nanaimo, Old City – those areas where they have lane access,” said Stromar.

Patrick Whelan, owner of Rewild Homes, a tiny home builder on Vancouver Island, said the market is growing.

“We’ve seen about a 300 per cent growth in our sales every year, for the last three years and we’ve opened up a second job site to accommodate that.”

Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

I joined Black Press in 2010 and cover education, court and RDN. I am a Ma Murray and CCNA award winner.
Read more