Model tiny home arrives in Kuujjuaq

Nunavik Building offers a small housing solution

A model tiny house, from Nunavik Building, was shipped up to Kuujjuaq on the sealift this summer. (Photo courtesy Nunavik Building)

By Elaine Anselmi

The first of a series of tiny homes developed for Nunavik arrived on the sealift in Kuujjuaq this summer.

“I wanted to show people what kind of quality of house we are building for the North,” said Willie Gadbois, co-founder of Nunavik Building, a home designer and developer with offices in Kuujjuaq and Napierville, Quebec.

About a decade ago, Gadbois, a Kuujjuaq-based plumber, furnace repairman and housebuilder, met building expert Claude Jannelle.

“We started talking about affordable housing in the North,” Gadbois said. “Housing in the North is so expensive. That’s where it started.”

From that, they’ve developed designs for tiny homes that take the northern elements into consideration.

The houses have metal siding and roofing to withstand high winds and last longer than other commonly used materials. They’re built with foam insulation injected into the floors, roof and ceiling and with triple-pane windows to keep warmth in.

They also use radiant floor heating, rather than wall-mounted radiators, to evenly distribute the heat.

“I think that’s the way to go in the North,” Gadbois said. “There are all of these problems in the North with heating and heat not being distributed right. Half the time people say their feet are freezing. The house is well-insulated but their feet are cold.”

Having worked in heating and plumbing across Nunavik, Gadbois takes personal care in seeing the units constructed to specifications, ensuring everything is installed properly and easy to maintain.

Nunavik Building has a range of designs for tiny homes, up to four bedrooms, where separate compartments of the house are attached together.

And they can be added on to with additional bedrooms and space if, for example, the family grows.

The house on show in Kuujjuaq is a one-bedroom unit, at just under 5 metres wide and 10 metres long.

You enter at the end of the building, into the open-concept kitchen and living room. The bedroom sits just back of that and behind it is the bathroom. The mechanical room for the house is a separate building just behind it.

The floor plan for Nunavik Building’s one-bedroom tiny home. (Courtesy Nunavik Building)

It took about two hours to get the finished house in place and hooked up to power and plumbing.

This model retails for $228,000, hooked up and everything in, said Gadbois. By comparison, a typical house in Nunavik would run between $500,000 and $600,000, he said.

“We’re trying to build affordable houses that are comfortable and don’t have problems with infiltration of water,” said Gadbois.

“I’ve been a plumber, furnace-man for so many years and so many things are not built right, the plumbing is not right, the heating systems are not right. I’ve worked on this for many years and we’ve finally got something that’s more adaptable to the North.”

The houses are constructed in Sherbrooke, Quebec, which takes about a month, Gadbois said, and then trucked and shipped up on the sealift. So once orders are in, as long as there’s enough time to book space on the sealift, the house can be in place the following summer.

“In the future, if everything goes good, we’re talking about building a factory in the North,” he said. “But that takes a lot of money.”

He added that the homes are a fit across the North and they’d be happy to see orders come in from Nunavut or even Greenland.

“We’re open and ready to give quotations and ready to build houses,” said Gadbois. “We’re ready to help people out that need houses.”

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(30) Comments:

  1. Posted by Boogles on

    The problem I see is there’s no arctic entry.

    • Posted by D John on

      I agree , there needs to be a covered and protected entry .
      It seems the majority of small home builders neglect this . Even if it is designed to be installed once the unit is shipped .

      • Posted by David on

        Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper to build onsite?

        A porch/mudroom doesn’t really need the structural integrity the rest of the building would need to survive shipping. I think the porch would be most likely to be damaged during shipping.

        But I am a DIYer thinking out loud.

  2. Posted by Ann on

    How is that affordable for us? How will this work exactly? Need more info! And need to see pictures.

  3. Posted by admirable on

    It’s nice of the owner to offer to sell homes in Nunavut, but unfortunately our Government is vehemently opposed to importing buildings that were not built by Nunavut Inuit. It doesn’t matter if we’re cramming 10 or 15 people in a house, and that all our social problems stem from housing, they’re not importing from elsewhere unless its built by Inuit. Even if it’s cheaper, well built, fast to ship and set up, and the most logical way to fix this whole mess, you’re not welcome here because something something article 23.

    Sorry for that sarcasm, but you’re not going to get more Inuit carpenters if kids are living in squalor, sometimes with sex offenders. Our privileged Inuit leaders have to stop worshipping documents and start doing what’s right. When you have enough carpenters you’ll be able to meet the demand. Until then start thinking outside the box. What you’re doing now isn’t enough and is hurting the next generation.

    • Posted by Monica Connolly on

      The housing shortage in the North is a serious backlog, not merely a normal year’s growing need. There are not enough construction workers in Nunavut to cope with this backlog in a timely manner. With the growing population, there would be plenty of work for Inuit if the annual construction were contracted locally. For the backlog? Whoever can do a good job at a decent cost – this group? MaDI? How about the military engineers?

    • Posted by Dave Johnson on

      I have worked on many expensive and unique homes as a carpenter . At 57 the thought of going North and working to build quality affordable housing sounds very , very interesting and also seems like a positive challenge .
      I agree the price seems a bit steep to call it affordable . To me affordable would be around $100,000 – $150,000 .

  4. Posted by Consistency on

    We can build cabins, we can build a poarch.
    The cost still seems a little steep for a one bedroom. Make it a 2 bedroom costs still come close to the per unit cost of a 5plex.
    I like the idea but why is the cost still so high?

    • Posted by David on

      I really don’t think they are.

      Everything is spray foamed (no mold but more expensive) and it uses floor heat. Floor heat is also more expensive, but warmer and more comfortable. Actually, a lot more comfortable. The air quality is far superior too with floor heat since you don’t have that blowing air through a furnace.

  5. Posted by Arctic Buzzard on

    By far the best one available for the north environment. Improvements will become obvious later but this is a step in the right direction. Many single people are waiting for such kind of affordable housing. Those that refuse to work for a living and live off their parents or grandparents income should consider moving to these coming to the north. Everybody deserves to work hard for a living.

    • Posted by 59009 on

      I agree, I would look into getting one of these. The only problem would be, which location would it be put into?

  6. Posted by Reader on

    Congratulations on this young inuk entrepreneur that came up with a strong vision tailored for the needs of the people in Nunavik. Way to go! Nunavik needs more people like him!

  7. Posted by Valentine Tereschki on

    It’s best to temper enthusiasm about any new northern housing “breakthrough” with a little caution. Wait at least three years and three winters before investing too much. Anyone remember the INPHC domes? The “revolutionary” blue BRIA Dome?

  8. Posted by Israel MacArthur on

    Would like to see a “Tiny House, Big Living” episode on this.

  9. Posted by Peter Puxley on

    The house would only cost $57,000 after applying through KMHB’s home ownership plan, or only $22,800 if a group decided to buy a bunch as part of a self-directed housing cooperative. That’s less than a pickup or a truck, boat and trailer.
    Good luck Willie! State the cost to the consumer after KMHB’s assistance and many may find they can afford it. 75% subsidy for home ownership, 90% subsidy if a group do a housing cooperative solution.

    Side note; front door to open from the other side (from left to the right side), table put in the kitchen and a couch in the living room.

    Well done!

  10. Posted by Human Scale on

    A human in the photo would help us understand better.
    Yes it woud be good for us to give this a trail period. Houses have to last a long time. Good to hear that quality was valued in it. Some people do not need big.

  11. Posted by Colin on

    Here’s how to find the money to make housing possible for almost everyone.

    Divide the Nunavut Trust Fund between families so as to set up separate family trusts like the one Justin Trudeau has. Then provide for supervised advances to families for purposes such as the purchase of housing, usually with the trust itself actually owning the house for next generations.

    As things now are, except for investment managers in the south and employees of what is in effect a government parallel to the GN, most people don’t get any benefit from the Nunavut trust.

    With the trust worth some $50,000 per family much better use could be made of this dead money.

    With so many Inuit now living outside Nunangat, the current setup is especially unfair to them,

  12. Posted by William wu on

    I would like to help people to get affordable housing with our simple designs

  13. Posted by Wayne Morrison on

    Their website dosent even mention it. What is the big blank space you can only access from the outside?

    • Posted by Guessing on

      I’m guessing it’s for the water and sewer tanks. They can’t be put outside.

    • Posted by Peter Puxley on

      It’s the mechanical room or furnace room for southerners containing furnace, DHW, pumps, water tank and septic tank as well.

      • Posted by Phil on

        I think the confusion comes from the article:

        “You enter at the end of the building, into the open-concept kitchen and living room. The bedroom sits just back of that and behind it is the bathroom. The mechanical room for the house is a separate building just behind it.”

        I think they meant that the mechanical room for the house is a “…seperate room just behind it” or something. Referring to it as a separate building seems inaccurate and inconsistent with the building getting hooked up and running in 2 hours.

  14. Posted by Iqaluit Homeowner on

    There are some great features to the tiny house but the cost is still high for what your getting. Remember to add another $100.000-$150,000 for the Iqaluit building lot your going to put it on; if your fortunate enough to be selected from a municipal lot draw.

  15. Posted by Kahontiaks on

    How much would the cost be to ship to Montreal?

  16. Posted by Matchboxx on

    Back in the day, in my time, there were small houses. We called them matchbox. They were small but comfortable. Its too bad that this concept couldn’t continue. I mean why not build some more like that. We are too driven by money and profits today. It takes away from everything that could be possible. These tiny very tight homes are way too expensive to get on the market for homeowners. No one is going to pay that much for a tiny house, when just up the road a few more dollars you can have a regular size house. Yes, a good idea, but gone with the winds as most things are in Nunavik. Gone with the wind, just like caribou farming , caribou camps, big restaurants looking over the water. Heard it all seen nothing come to be fortunately. If it did come to be , it would have cost even more, to have it , then shut it down.

    • Posted by Renter on

      Wonder , if it would be cheaper to buy one of these tiny houses direct from the campany , not the middle man in Kuujjuaq

      • Posted by For sure on

        Im sure you can buy one of these tiny homes without the middle man. As a matter of fact, its where you will save thousands of dollars. This is nothing more than a presentation of business and profits, hidden under the struggles of our housing shortage. We should always take warning about what advantages are taken under the disadvantaged. Theres always someone out there watching for the weakest link.

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