Local company building eco-friendly 'aqua-homes'
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A Wallaceburg-based company wants to make a splash in the local housing market by launching floating homes later this summer.
Strong House Canada is in the midst of building eco-friendly “aqua-homes” with plans to put the first structure on the Sydenham River soon.
“We actually are licensed boat builders. So, they are registered as boats and they are insured as floating homes.”
Strong House Canada partner Sally Joyce says the homes are intended to be an alternative for people entering the housing market and for people who want to downsize with somewhere affordable to go.
“If you love nature. If you love being near water and you want to get up in the morning, make yourself a cup of tea and go sit right on your dock.” Joyce adds, “They can be cottages, they can be weekenders, they can be short term rentals. They can be whatever you’d like to do with them.”
Stabilizing anchors drop down to keep the homes in place, with a little pillow foot to allow for movement with water levels. The structures can be fully off-grid and use composting toilets, so they don’t need to be connected to sewer lines. They are also are powered by hybrid solar and wind systems.
“We like to work with water and the environment,” Joyce says, “There’s nothing on this planet you can build that will stop water if water wants to go somewhere.”
Owner Alex Topol says the four season homes are intended to be in the water year-round. Topol adds they are built from a steel frame on top of a composite-fibreglass barge that can withstand year-round conditions, like ice and waves.
“They’re going to be decreasing the force and height of the waves crashing our shores.”
Topol says the homes can include sea-walls or flood fences that serve as decks or sidewalks and protect the homes and shoreline from erosion. “It’s quicker, cleaner, we don’t distract any shore and we like to maintain it as natural as possible.”
Joyce tells CTV News they use galvanized Canadian steel and composite materials instead of lumber and are working on partnerships to harvest things like phragmites grass to utilize. “These composite materials when they’re produced, the longevity is 180-220 years.” Joyce says, “Never needs to be painted. Doesn’t rust. Lighter. Easier to work with. So many factors that make them the thing to do these days.”
The company is also hoping to secure partnerships in Lighthouse Cove in Lakeshore.
“It’s an area that’s brand new to us here, brand new to our council, brand new to our planning staff.” Lakeshore Mayor Tom Bain says municipal staff are reviewing zoning requirements but notes floating homes could be possible by fall of this year. “We are just presently wanting to make sure that we’ve got all bases covered.”
Bain points to similar models in British Columbia saying the set up is impressive.
Strong House says 16 different models range in price from $100,000 to $400,000 depending on size and preferences. “On land building still has many requirements that we find are restrictive to our innovation,” says Joyce. “They can be fully off-grid, can be hybrid, can be regular service depending on your site.”