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Uptick in tiny home sales continue amid Okanagan housing crunch

The Cabana tiny home, ideal for full-time living or as a guest suite.
The Cabana tiny home, ideal for full-time living or as a guest suite.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Summit Tiny Homes

The co-owner of a Vernon-based tiny home company continues to see increased demand for the small houses because of how expensive Okanagan housing has become.

OIiver Stankiewicz, co-owner of Summit Tiny Homes, started the business of manufacturing the tiny homes roughly five years ago after he and his wife and co-owner Cera Bollo wanted to live in one.

“We’re booked out for all of 2022, so we’re now booking into 2023 which is crazy,” Stankiewicz said.

The price of a single-family home in the Okanagan and Shuswap has increased by around 30% since this time last year according to the Association of Interior Realtors. The figures were released Nov. 4. The benchmark price for a single-family home in the Central Okanagan sits at $961,000, a 30% increase from October 2020.

READ MORE: House prices across Okanagan and Shuswap increase 30%

Prices in the North Okanagan are up by 31% taking the benchmark price of a  single-family home to $693,800. The Shuswap saw the highest price increase at 36% although property remained slightly cheaper than the Okanagan with the benchmark price for a single-family home at $648,300.

READ MORE: Vernon manufacturer filling 'tiny home' needs across North America amid pandemic

It’s the busiest it’s ever been for Stankiewicz.

“We’ve been sitting over a year waitlist for the past couple years, but now it’s creeping over that,” he said.

Clientele is mainly local to the Okanagan and B.C., he said.

“A lot of our customers are seeing travel is not an option and things are a little challenging so people are spending resources on a little lake property or this is being used as their cabin and their cottage,” he said.

"With the housing market the way that it is, people are also like ‘we don’t have another option. This is it.’ For someone to get into the Okanagan housing market right now is pretty challenging so they see this as an option for either a short-term or long-term solution, depending on the person.”

Residents may own or lease the land, he said.

Summit's tiny homes are certified by Transport Canada and are inspected by the Canadian Standards Association where they fall under an RV category. In an interview with last year, Stankiewicz said a few clients were using them "outlaw style" by leasing land and putting a tiny home on the property.

This past summer, Kelowna city council approved a new bylaw allowing tiny homes and carriage homes to be built on city lots within the downtown core without having to go to council for rezoning approval, but community services manager Ryan Smith said they don’t allow homes on wheels.

“We do between 20 and 40 of those rezonings a year in that RU1 zone and it’d be probably too early to see any take up on that just yet,” Smith said, adding there’s around 800 carriage homes in the city.

He hasn’t noticed an uptick in carriage homes in the city since the bylaw passed.

“People, if they really wanted to do it were probably going to do it anyways, this just makes it easier and quicker,” Smith said.

Any separate residence from a main home is considered a carriage home, but they have to be on a foundation connected to sewer, water and power.

READ MORE: After losing husband, Okanagan woman receives big Christmas surprise

In the U.K., there’s been a growing trend for tiny home offices, according to a BBC report.

There have been a few inquires for tiny offices in the Okanagan but he hasn’t been able to take on any office projects because he’s been so busy with the homes, Stankiewicz said.

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