This story first appeared in print in the January 2020 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
On a dark winter evening, my dog Coconut and I take a familiar stroll through the Tum Tum area of the Big Eddy, past the original farmhouse and past the famous pink Taco Club truck. But off the shadows of this nicely underlit neighborhood lies the foundation for a new home, something not often seen in this archaeologically protected area.
Adaptive Homes, a relatively new builder in Revelstoke, is ambitiously taking on the challenge of building a high quality home in a very competitive housing market, on land that other builders have shied away from. The plans call for a 5,100-square-foot duplex with five bedrooms and three bathrooms within the stacked units, centrally located on the .29-acre lot. But it’s the planned studio space, three covered decks, and indoor food cultivation area that get my attention and hint that this home is aimed at a new generation of buyers who want a home that integrates with their outdoor-focussed lifestyles. The design also incorporates ultra high efficiency thermal performance, materials with low embodied carbon, and traditional timber framing on the south and west walls.
“The two main things we are demonstrating in this home is a year-round food production room and an extremely energy efficient home built in a modular format,” explains Jocoah Sorenson, who co-owns Adaptive Homes with Logan Ashley.
The modular format, meaning that large assemblies like walls and roofing are prefabricated in a shop and assembled on site, is still a somewhat uncommon technique in North America. The advantages that it offers are numerous: no restrictions on noise or working hours, shelter for materials, security for tools, access to machinery like fork lifts and gantry cranes, better working conditions, and replicable building processes. In short, it means greater efficiency and lower production costs.
It’s a concept also utilized by Revelstoke’s Tree Construction, so it’s no surprise that Jocoah worked for Tree for about five years. His 15 years of experience in sustainable building took him from Baja, Mexico to the Gulf Islands and eventually to Revelstoke where he mastered the skills of passive house construction. Logan, a lifelong friend and partner in the business, brings experience in commercial building, interior systems, and project management.
“Adaptive Homes came together as two entrepreneurs with goals to provide a higher standard of living for their community,” says Ashley. “We knew that we wanted to provide homes that were environmentally friendly, would lower the inhabitants living costs, and provide food security.”
Despite the duo’s combined skillset, putting together the pieces hasn’t been a simple task. Permitting, financing, and CSA certification have taken quite a bit of time and the archaeological restrictions of this historically Indigenous area were a unique hurdle.
“The Tum Tum project is a hybrid of concrete grade beams and screw piles to reduce the ground disturbance,” explains Ashley. “We reduced the ground impact to mitigate the risk of an archaeological find.”
The physical pieces will finally be on site in early February with completion scheduled for mid April. Once this project is wrapped up, Adaptive Homes will be developing a carriage home that integrates with progressive community housing bylaws and that can be shipped anywhere in the province. Through scale and replication, Logan and Jocoah hope to produce high performance homes with low upfront costs.
The changing housing market here in Revelstoke offers opportunities for enterprising builders to think outside the box and take an active role in building a greener community. It takes commitment and it takes vision, and I can see that Adaptive Homes has both. Even here, on a dimly lit street in the Tum Tum.