September, 2014, Tuwanek, a hamlet located on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia was rattled when one of its dozen or so houses burned to the ground. The owner’s lives, Will Richardson and Karine Chevarie, were unpredictably changed and they had to start again. The house was insured so a simple rebuild was possible, yet the result would not replace the memories or the attachment that had developed over the years. So Will and Karine came up with a plan that would hold true to their values and create a new home that would also create new memories and attachments in the process. They would rebuild their home from local resources.
During one of my conversations with the couple, Will figured “Take a tree that’s already down rather then cut down another.” This view is mirrored in all the materials gathered to build their new home. The range of recovered local resources is extensive. Windows, doors, toilets, sinks, electrical boxes, wiring, wood stoves, appliances, and so on.
Some materials used are more sentimental in value such as the old support beams from Will’s Elementary School that were pulled from the demolished debris before it was hauled off to the dump.
Exotic materials were salvaged such as Old Growth timber that was pulled from a stump pile in a clear cut logging area just before it was about to be doused in gasoline and lit on fire and burned to ashes.
Creativity was also used to create practical works of arts. In a shower stall one wall is a sheet of glass that they splattered with paint then laid another sheet of glass over the paint splatter. This led to a very inexpensive decorative wall as the glass was purchased for a few dollars from a resource recovery centre and the paint was what was left in a couple of cans – see photo. This artistic solution is in contrast to going to the local home hardware store and purchasing tiles that are manufactured on the other side of the world, and are expensive to purchase and install.
I toured their house, which is still under construction, talked with Will and Karine and then reflected on the experience and my observations. These people are not only saving a lot of money, they are living examples of how to build memories, create sentiment, create value, maximize available resources while having a minimal impact on the environment.
They are using resources that would otherwise be destroyed or lost in a garbage dump. They are reusing and adding value rather than using something once and then disposing of it. They are circulating money within their own community; thereby, creating local jobs rather than spending a lot of money to bring resources in from other parts of the world. They are a model of resourcefulness while working within their community and the environment.
I look forward to seeing them when their creation is completed and getting caught up over a locally crafted beer in front of their recovered wood stove.