by Dean Austin
If you could buy a small yet sturdy and comfortable dwelling structure for less than $50K and fly it out to some idyllic waveriders’ locale, to be assembled in four days by a team of volunteers before you could then live there and surf to your heart’s content, is that an idea you would jump onto?
It’s an idea being brought to life by Backcountry Hut Company, founded by Canadian Wilson Edgar. The concept for a predesigned, pre-engineered, easy-to-assemble hut was originally suggested to Edgar by a fellow mountaineer. After some years of research and with the help of business partner Michael Leckie (an architect and avid surfer) and manufacturer Cyrill Werlen, Edgar designed prototypes of these huts, initially meant for Pacific Northwest mounties.
What they feature
As offered on outsideonline.com, the base module of the “Surf Shack” measures 191 square feet and can accommodate two to four people, but with additional modules you can put together a 937-square-foot dwelling, capable of sleeping 24. A full kitchen and fireplace can be ordered as add-ons.
The interior of a hut can be customized for small groups in a backcountry setting or a more personal, front-country setup. Customers are allowed to design the interior or choose from available options.
The huts are not only affordable living options starting at $45K, they’re also environmentally friendly, with prefabrication reducing the material and energy needed in producing and assembling the building parts. The components are delivered as flatpack to building sites via truck or helicopter.
Edgar says the huts can be assembled in less than a week with the help of four able-bodied people and the included instructions. No heavy machinery needed to prepare the site. Piling holes are to be dug by hand, with concrete poured into sonotubes to create piles. This is an added advantage in places that can’t accommodate the intrusion of a conventional building process.
The drawbacks? No customer yet to date has built one of the huts, which can be put down to a long and exhausting process of obtaining permits (BHC helps with this) and the fact that the product hasn’t been in existence for even a year. Connection to power and water are challenges as well, more so in remote locations.
Despite the downsides, there is strong interest in Edgar’s project, with their first customers coming from a variety of backgrounds, looking for well-designed dwellings that minimally impact the environment. BHC is currently offering their product almost anywhere in Canada or the continental US, with Edgar working on the expansion to the UK, Australia, and NZ, as well as inquiries coming in from places in the tropics such as Fiji.
In my own view, the Surf Shack is an exciting idea, and when executed correctly can be a boon not just to surfers but to anyone looking for relatively inexpensive, comfy and aesthetically-pleasing housing alternatives.
Perhaps as a surfer you’ve entertained the notion of retiring to the beach to surf and live off the land and sea. Or maybe you just want that cozy vacation home in your dream surfing locale. Either way, Wilson Edgar’s ‘surf huts may be an attractive prospect.
What are your thoughts?
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