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'From scratch': Colville Lake man building log home amidst housing shortage

Kyle Tutcho is laying out logs and preparing blueprints as he begins building his own log home from scratch. It's a creative solution to housing in Colville Lake, one of several Northwest Territories affected by an ongoing housing shortage.

Kyle Tutcho, 28, is laying out logs and preparing blueprints as he gets ready to build his home

Kyle Tutcho, from Colville Lake, N.W.T., stands on the piece of land where he plans to build his log cabin. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Kyle Tutcho walks across the logs carefully laid out on the snow, explaining his vision for the home he's planning in Colville Lake, N.W.T.

"I've got plans, blueprints to build a log house right on this spot, facing the lake," he said. "It's a good spot for it."

Tutcho, 28, gathered the logs from the far side of the lake where he has his camp; he's marked out which ones he'll use on the home he's designing for himself.

"I grew up independent. I like doing stuff myself. It was always like that for me," he said. "I want to get this done from scratch so I can say that I built it from scratch."

He took a log home building course in B.C., a few years ago, so he feels he has the skills he needs to get the home built. He also has help from a few cousins. Between the three of them, they can do it, he said. 

"I want to see if I can overcome the challenge and get it done."

Tutcho's a trapper who spends much of his time out on the land or at his camp outside Colville Lake. He's been doing most of the work preparing his blueprints at his camp.

So far, he's about halfway done the planning — laying out his foundation and the walls. He's been in discussions with Northwest Territories Housing Corporation officials about getting help with materials once he's compiled a list of what he needs.

The logs Tutcho's collected so far are carefully laid out and marked. He hopes to begin construction next summer. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Tutcho plans for his home to look over the lake, on the outskirts of town. In the summer he'd be able to watch the sunset over the water. In the winter, he can jump on his sled and get out on the land.

"It's nice and quiet, there's a good view of the mountain right there, a good view of the lake," he said. "That's what I wanted."

Colville Lake, a community of about 130 people,  is one of several in the Northwest Territories where residents have housing problems. Approximately two out of three households in the community have a "housing problem," according to the latest housing survey from the housing corporation, completed in 2014.

A "housing problem" means a household is either overcrowded, does not have adequate plumbing or requires major repairs.   

Tutcho wants to live on his own, in his own space — a feeling that's been expressed by others who've decided the best way for them to live in their home communities amidst a housing shortage is by building their own home.

A log cabin sits near the spot where Tutcho plans to build his own cabin. He says he picked the location because of the quiet and the view of the lake. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

In nearby Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., Benjy Louison and Natasha Landry did something similar. They started building a home for their family about three years ago and have been working on it ever since. They're now in the process of getting it hooked up to the local power grid.   

For Tutcho, there's still a long road ahead before he can sit on his porch and look at the view of the lake. By his own admission, he may not be ready to build for at least another year. 

But it's his dream. A dream he can see, and one he says he's committed to finishing.

With files from Leitha Kochon

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