Earth homes similar to this one, are getting more interest in the Okanagan. Photo: Earth Homes with Asta Jankune FaceBook

Kelowna realtor investigating “earth homes” for the Okanagan

Sally Hollingsworth thinks earth homes are getting more and more interest.

Rentals and housing affordability is one of the biggest financial topics facing residents and homeowners across the province.

Sally Hollingsworth, a Kelowna realtor, has been intrigued by the interest shown in earth homes since she’s been researching the viabilities of one in the Okanagan for a client.

“They want to find an efficient green home, that saves on heating and cooling,” said Hollingsworth. “I think people are getting more interested because there is this whole element of society that wants to leave a lighter footprint.”

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Earth homes are smaller sized houses that are often built underground or built into a slope of a hill. Often times, a container house will be built into a caved hill and covered with soil and dirt to insulate the house.

The insulation gives allows less heating and cooling the house, said Hollingsworth, as the earth homes have average temperatures of 16 C year round.

Construction costs are less; the lot sizes are smaller and the containers, which cost around $4,000, can be stack-able and constructed into a comfortable home.

“I started envisioning a whole development that they can become. It would need forward thinking in our municipalities, as it’s more minimalistic. Less might be more,” said Hollingsworth.

While researching the possibility of earth homes in the Okanagan is one thing, getting the right work done to start building one is a different story.

Research of the desired lot, working on building schemes, finding out if there are environment sensitivities close to the desired lot, and communicating with an environment planner before the building planner are all necessities when it comes to building earth homes, as well as any new home on a lot.

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“(People) need to do research, and find what’s allowable by the regional district,” said Hollingsworth. “A place where you can buy a lot where they are less expensive is because they’re (often) off the beaten path.”

“Finding (more) places where people can use these means communities need to open up to accommodate them.”

One of the big concerns is that the “ugly” containers could drop the surrounding prices of property value, but grass and gardens on top of the earth homes will add a cosmetic appeal to the already large financial appeal, especially during this time of discussing affordable housing, she said.

Since her research has begun, Hollingsworth said that there has been more and more interest from other realtors in the Okanagan looking to get more information.

Information on the Okanagan reality can be found at Hollingsworth’s website.

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