Houses built by P.E.I. carpenters-in-training will end up as social housing
Construction Association of P.E.I. developing prototype for a net-zero tiny home
The social housing inventory on P.E.I. is about to grow by at least 32 units, thanks to the work of carpenters-in-training in Summerside and Charlottetown.
Organizers say the new projects will help, in a small way, with two of the Island's biggest challenges — the housing crisis and the shortage of skilled construction workers.
The Construction Association of P.E.I. is developing a prototype for an energy-efficient tiny home, and will then build 30 over the next three years.
"As an industry, we have a huge need for labour, and at the same time, building housing for Islanders. It's just a win-win situation," said general manager Sam Sanderson.
"Instead of building mini-barns and small little projects, we sat down, the [housing] minister and I and his department, and thought about 'What can we do to help?' — and this is what we came up with."
'Very exciting, very innovative'
Sanderson said the contract with the province is for up to 30 tiny homes, by the end of 2025.
He said materials will cost about $60,000 per home, with labour provided by participants in training programs funded by the provincial and federal governments.
"It's designed to be net-zero ready. It's a very innovative, cool-looking structure," Sanderson said.
"The key part of this is our training centre, and the ability to train participants. So the more people we get to train, the more tiny homes we get to build."
Sanderson said he has received calls from construction associations across the country asking about the program.
"Tiny homes have been been the talk of the town for quite a while. It's very exciting, it's very innovative," Sanderson said.
As an industry, we have a huge need for labour, and at the same time, building housing for Islanders. It's just a win-win situation.—Sam Sanderson, Construction Association of P.E.I.
"Every construction association in Canada has the potential to take on a project like this, to create entry-level positions, increase the labour force, but also at the same time tackling the housing issue."
Jonathan Houde is part of the Construction Association's Discover Carpentry program, and is helping to build the first tiny home.
"It feels exciting. We're at the forefront of this, so it's a big learning curve for all of us," Houde said.
"[There's] such a big shortage of housing here on P.E.I., I think it's going to help so many people."
In Summerside, P.E.I., students in multiple programs at Holland College are working on two 1,100-square-foot homes as part of their training.
This year, for the first time, these houses have been purchased by the provincial government to be used for social housing. Previously, the houses have been sold at the end of the school year.
It's only two homes, so it's only a drop in the bucket. But it's something we can do to help.—Craig Roche, Holland College
"We thought it was a great idea," said program manager Craig Roche.
"We were on board right away. It's only two homes, so it's only a drop in the bucket. But it's something we can do to help."
Carpentry student Will Ross is also happy to hear that the houses will be going to a good home.
"It definitely hits close to home. I've known a lot of people that have almost been homeless," Ross said.
"It makes me really happy, knowing that these aren't just going to be sitting somewhere vacant. They're actually going to be put to good use, and hopefully change peoples' lives."