New homes to be built at Esketemc community

The Esketemc First Nations (Alkali Lake) is doing business a little differently.

The Esketemc First Nations (Alkali Lake) is doing business a little differently.

Aside from building new housing stock more cheaply than the single-family residential homes traditionally built on reserves, the community is looking to establish a model of home ownership that the majority of Canadians enjoy.

According to Eddy Davis, Esketemc operations manager, the constraints of federal funding have historically resulted in “substandard housing because they (bands) don’t get enough money to build the houses properly.”

Up against a financial wall, Davis set out with the idea to design and build durable and aesthetically pleasing housing that could be built by the community at a fraction of the cost. He contacted an Okanagan building-supply company that provided the timber for the timber-frame homes.

What Davis and the Esketemc First Nations discovered were the homes could be built by trained community members quickly and cheaply — estimated at approximately $85 per square foot compared to $140 per square foot for a stick-frame home.

Davis believes the cost savings is a direct result of using local labour and fewer and different materials that don’t require as many tradespeople to carry out the work.

“The timber framing is a huge cost savings right there. When you do stick frame you have the drywall and the mudding and the taping, the painting and the insulating and those are all separate processes and they usually have separate tradespeople coming in to do each one,” he says.

The idea was also to eliminate the need for drywall that can be prone to mould. The six-unit, three bedroom, 1,200-square-feet homes are built using eight by eight timbers — in this case beetle-kill wood — laid on top of each other and coated with a seal.

In-floor heating operating on a centralized wood boiler system has been installed to heat the units.

That, says Davis, was another cost-saving measure.

Community members can expect to move in beginning in May.

Another unique feature of the six-plex is that in the future it will be bought and sold.

“We’re in the process of implementing a home ownership program,” says Davis. “We want to institute this within our community.  But because the land is held by the federal government, the band cannot sell the land the homes sit on until the treaty process is complete.”

In the meantime, new homeowners will hold a lease on a specific piece of property.

The benefit of home ownership is threefold: pride in ownership, less financial responsibility for the band as mortgages are held by individuals, and the creation of potential revenue streams as the band creates a company — of community members trained as certified builders for the timber-frame style of construction — that can build the homes in other communities.

Davis says the community has had some concerns about maintaining its integrity if homes are for sale on the open market.

“We’re still talking about it but the general consensus so far is realistically how many people are going to come out here and start buying houses?”

Concern has mingled with increasing interest as community members come to realize they have greater choice under the home ownership model.

Davis expects the band — the holder of the six-plex’s mortgage — won’t make a profit when selling the homes. That will come later.

“Normally the home builder wants to make a profit but I think all we’re wanting to do here is break even and provide low-cost affordable great housing for community members and put profit aside,” he says.

“When we start building outside our community, then we will look for profit.  But for our community members I think we want to keep it as affordable as we can.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Skating rink welcomed

This lake one will not last long but is still worth it

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Quesnel Observer.
FOREST INK: New batteries close to industrial level applications

The good news is the hope that this cost should come down each year

Researchers in B.C. say earlier than usual return of bats or dead bats can indicate trouble, such as signs of white-nose syndrome. (Cathy Koot photo)
Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read