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  • Writer's pictureMarc S. Tremblay

Change of plans...

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Sometimes, being flexible is important. Maybe it's important all the time, actually.


For those who have followed our Mayne Island journey, you've witnessed or learned about us purchasing the lot (props to Ian C), you watched, or even helped as we made it our own, clearing years of branches accumulating on the land, cleaning the old bunkies and vintage trailer, bringing new beds, a small fridge, a Nespresso machine, replacing the cinderblocks "patio" with a proper deck, adding awesome patio chairs, building a fire pit, setting up an outdoor shower, and so on.


We made it our own and loved every minute of it, while planning for the time when we would trade-in all this rustic-ness for something bigger, better, more comfortable.


Working with Hudson Bronson, we designed a great house that we planned to build at the Grove, but when we got the cost estimate to build it, we realized our wants far exceeded our means.


We started an exercise to find cost savings. No need to have quartz countertops and custom millwork for all cabinetry ($140,000+). We eliminated some windows. We suggested to change the entrance to the rental suite to save thousands on cement stairs and a retaining wall. We decided we could do the flooring ourselves, we could paint, plus several other little things we could do to make it more affordable, but the reality is that we could not bring it down enough to meet our budget. New builds on small islands are very expensive.


From the beginning, we considered an alternate option, that of purchasing a "used" home and moving it to the Grove. Working in parallel as we designed the house with Hudson, we made several offers on houses through Nickel Brothers, but none panned out. Either the houses required too many changes to work for us, or we got outbid, or Nickel Brothers selected a different buyer because it was easier and/or more economical for them to move the house somewhere else.


Another way to save a lot of money is to be the "Owner-Builder" for the house. As the Owner-Builder, you essentially become the General Contractor. You hire trades and do some of the work yourself, and you assume full responsibility for the New Home Warranty Program. In the original cost estimate to build the house we designed, $200,000 was allocated to "project management" and "overhead" for the construction company.


So, I considered taking the Owner-Builder 2-day Course and us purchasing a different house models through other prefabricated manufacturers like Pacific Homes, or Tamlin, which sells a model that's a spitting image of what we designed.


It would have been a bit cheaper, but still above budget, and if you know me, you know that I am not super handy.


I can get things done, slowly, and meticulously, but it's not really my jam. Of course, friends and family would have helped, and there's always a YouTube clip you can find to learn how to do just about anything, but as we zeroed in on the Discovery Ridge Model from Tamlin, I received a Nickel Brothers email. I get them every time new used houses become available.


That's when I learned about "Surrey Seabreeze" (click the link to see more photos).


On "paper", or "on screen", it looked great! It's a cute bungalow, 1,100 square feet, 2 bedrooms, it's been updated, the dimensions are about right for our lot, so I sent it to Dana to get her opinion... she loved it.



I received the email from Nickel Brothers at 9:34 am on April 14. At 10:48, we sent them an Offer to Purchase, subject to us seeing the house.


On the following Tuesday, Dana and I went to visit the house in Surrey and we loved it in person, just as much as we loved it on screen. It's clear that the house was well-maintained and updated in recent years. It has a great vaulted ceiling living room with a rustic wood beam, beautiful hardwood floors, newer windows, updated kitchen and bathroom and generous-sized bedrooms.


We thought, "this is the house for the Grove!"


A few days later, we removed the "Subject to us seeing the house" condition and confirmed with Nickel Brothers that we wanted to purchase it.


By then, other people had seen the house and Nickel Brothers had received several offers.


We'd submitted a strong offer, above asking price, but buying a house this way is not a "normal" real estate transaction. It comes down to "house-moving economics", and in this case, how quickly the house must be removed from the lot where it's been located for the last 45 years.


Unbeknownst to us when we made the offer, we learned that the house had to move by the end of May. Ummm, say what!?


Six weeks... That's an unreasonable amount of time to organize, sequence, and project-manage a house move, but we had to commit to that timeline to get the house.


Six weeks to move our existing bunkies and trailer, to cut trees, to strengthen the driveway, to find an excavator, to design the foundation plan and lower level (we still plan on building a 1-bedroom suite to rent), to find contractors that can build the foundation and walls for the lower lever, to find an electrician, a plumber, a septic engineer, etc.


Mayne Island is a small - all the good contractors are booked into 2024...


So, despite the crazy timeline, we signed the contract, made the first payment on the house + move, and we are now furiously planning and sequencing all the details for the house to move...


Thankfully, we're flexible, and so are the contractors we've been talking with for the last 2 years. Special thanks again to Ian C for his knowledge and contacts, Matt T, Matt B, Matt C, River J, Andrew M, hopefully Steve P and others who are going to help make this happen.


The target date for the house to be delivered is now is June 13, but that too may change.


We are flexible...

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