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  • Writer's pictureMarc S. Tremblay

It's happening so fast!

Updated: Aug 12, 2023

Recap: Nickel Brothers is a company that buys houses from people who are redeveloping their property. They save houses from being demolished and sent to the landfill.


It was just 50 days ago that they put the “Seabreeze” house up for sale.


We immediately placed a conditional offer on it, sight unseen, and went to see it four days later. We liked it. We thought, this could be THE ONE, if only Nickel Brothers would sell it to us. After several failed offers on other houses, the house moving company seemed genuinely interested in selling us this house: “we put you on our priority list”, they said. Oh, that’s good, we thought…


We were now in the enviable position of having the first right of refusal.


With offers from other potential buyers piling on, Nickel Brothers put pressure on us to remove our conditions and sign a Purchase Agreement, but there was a catch: the house had to be delivered on our lot by the end of May. That's crazy, but even if this was an impossible timeline to get everything organized, we decided, what the heck, let’s do it!


Well, it’s June 5th today, and the house hasn’t been delivered, but it’s on its way, literally.


It was removed from its lot in South Surrey and it’s ready to be placed on a barge in less than a week. The planned delivery date is still June 13th.


In the meantime, the bunkies were moved, but perhaps moved too quickly.


The timelines were so tight that we didn’t have time to prepare the areas where they were being moved to. We didn’t have a choice, really. We should have levelled the ground and poured cement footings, but no, they were just dropped approximately where we wanted them.


This weekend, we were able to level the big bunky with a good old bottle jack, a bunch of cinder blocks and scrap pieces of wood, but it’s a different story for the smaller bunky.


We started working on it, but realized after a couple of hours that we were too close to a big tree behind - it's actually resting against it. It needs to be moved 3-5 feet forward, but that’s not what this blog update is about...


Next on the long list of sequential steps is felling trees. We need the trees cut to make room for the house, but more importantly, to allow us to excavate where the house will sit, STARTING TODAY.


But remember, while this is happening, we’re still working on designing the walk-out lower level, reclaiming the attached garage to make it a home office, engaging a structural engineering and finding the remaining contractors we need to make all this happen, but let’s get back to felling trees.


At first, we planned on giving Matt B from D.R. Daylight Tree Service the wood in exchange for a credit on the cost of chopping the trees down (they can sell the logs to small local sawmills, or sell it as firewood), but, we changed our mind (remember, “stay flexible”) and decided that we should keep all of it for firewood. But that too was a short-lived decision, because it was too much wood, if that's even possible, so we changed our mind again.


We had several prized douglas firs on the lot, the kind timber-frame builders want. We’re talking trees close to 4 feet in diameter and as tall as the famed Beanstalk.


We reached out to Andrew P, a timber-framer on the island, and we struck a deal to trade raw timber in exchange for some milled wood. He’s going to use these amazing trees to build his own house, and later, he’ll give us our own wood back for us to build a woodshed, and/or an outdoor shower and compost toilet, and/or a nice big kitchen table. We're still working out the details.


Middle photo courtesy of Matt Bolla


In total, over 20 trees were felled. In addition to our prized douglas firs, some lesser prized firs were dropped, as were cedars and balsams (some call them grand firs). They were then limbed and cut into logs of 10-20+ feet in length.


This video give you a sense of the enormity of the task. Watch it and marvel at how Matt and his crew can actually climb and cut these massive trees. Listen to the thundering crash of 1000+ lb logs as they hit the forest floor, or the branches as they also obey gravity and whistle to the ground.



Matt T, the excavator, stacked the logs and made massive piles of branches, which he loaded up in his triple-axle dump truck and brought the branches and the massive root balls to the industrial compost.



On top of that, we had to apply for a permit from the BC Ministry of Transportation to cut 11 trees along the route where the house will travel to get to our lot. Matt B and his crew felled these trees and bucked the logs into firewood rounds. We were allowed to keep this wood, which we offered to our wonderful neighbours Margaret and Andrea, and to a Mayne Island group that collects and offers firewood to those in need.



Next up, excavating.


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