British Columbia

This tiny Vancouver home can be yours for $20k, but there's a catch

A tiny home in East Vancouver is currently listed for sale on Craigslist — for an enticingly affordable $20,000.

Buyer of converted workshop must have it moved to another site

Ches Lam converted the workshop in the back garden of his home to create a fully-functioning guest suite. (Craigslist)

A tiny home in East Vancouver is currently listed for sale on Craigslist — for an enticingly affordable $20,000.

But, before you reach for your chequebook and head out the door, there is a not-so-tiny catch — the buyer must have the unit picked up and moved to another piece of land.

It's not a situation the owner and builder of the tiny home, Ches Lam, had anticipated.

The city ordered Lam return the tiny house to its original workshop state, or remove it from his property. (Craigslist)

Originally, the carpenter bought a house in Renfrew Heights, knowing he needed to renovate but, rather than extend the current structure, he decided to keep the main house at its original modest footprint, and convert the workshop in the garden to create a guest suite.

"I have nothing against new buildings, but I like to preserve old structures," he told CBC News.

For the most part, the 250 sq. ft. guest suite — which has a fully-functioning kitchen, shower room and a platform sleeping area — has been used when Lam has guests visiting. Occasionally he has rented it out on short-term leases.

He knew when he built the suite that it wasn't legal. He was put off by the difficulty of getting a permit, he says.

The kitchen comes fully loaded with high end appliances. (Craigslist)

"For me, it's no different from converting an unfurnished basement suite inside a house."

His luck ran out when a neighbour complained to the city and an inspector turned up. Lam was told he must convert the suite back to its original workshop/garage space.

Instead, Lam decided to post the property on Craigslist, appliances included, with the hope that someone else could enjoy his work.

"I thought it was such a shame to rip it out, he said. "I wanted to keep it in one piece for someone to live in it somewhere else."

Every potential place for storage has been exploited, including turning the stairs into drawers. (Craigslist)

He's looked into the cost of getting the structure moved, and has been quoted from between $8,000 and $25,000, noting that it's hard to get an accurate estimate when you don't know where it is being moved.

So far, Lam says he's had two or three serious inquiries, including one from North Vancouver.

"That one is someone on First Nations land," he says. "You don't need a permit or anything."


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