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Brantford company shines spotlight on challenges in modular home approval


A company from Brantford says there’s too much municipal red tape when it comes to getting their modular home projects approved.

Modular homes are small dwellings that can be built quickly and cost a fraction of a traditional build. Though they’ve been touted by all levels of government, as an option to help with Canada’s housing crisis, Habitat28 said it’s still a challenge.

“We’re fighting too much to get one permit passed,” says Shailesh Poddar, CEO of Habitat28, a Brantford modular home builder.

Poddar said there’s a lot of interest in modular homes, especially as additional dwelling units. He said some people want more space for a growing family or for aging parents to live in, others as a rental home, nanny suite, or guest house.

“We start at $100,000 for a studio apartment, and then it goes from there,” said Poddar. “But within under $200,000 you can put a two bedroom self-contained ADU in your backyard which you can either use for yourself, your parents, or rent it out to pay that big mortgage.”

But Poddar said that when it comes to actually getting permits, each municipality has its own rules, regulations and levels of awareness around modular homes, which slows down the process.

He said all the red tape even causes potential clients to dismiss the idea right away.

“So instead of actually getting into this where we would begin the process, they would already be disheartened and saying there's no point because, you know, my municipality is not that friendly and they're not going to allow it,” Poddar said.

Poddar said standardizing the rules across Ontario would make a big difference, adding that it is time to look at new housing solutions to address the current shortage.

“We are at a crisis level. We wouldn’t have reached a crisis level if the traditional methodologies are working,” he explained.

CTV Kitchener reached out to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for comment.

“Our government is committed to investing in innovative modular construction as part of the solution to Ontario’s housing supply crisis. That is why we undertook a series of measures to streamline building permits and inspections for modular-unit residential housing in 2022 and cut red tape through Bill 185 to further accelerate housing development. The province is also currently working with the federal government on how a catalogue of Standardized housing designs could provide market certainty for smaller home builders and builders of modular housing,” said Press Secretary Bianca Meta, in a statement.

“We will have more information on how we can make greater use of modular housing construction in the coming months, as the modular and innovative housing strategy is developed. “

Purchasing a modular home

Nicole Papp recently purchased a piece of property in Puslinch with the plan to put a modular home on it.

“Knowing the cost of homes rising, me being a single person purchasing this myself, this was the best option that I could find,” she told CTV News.

Papp’s plot is in Mini Lakes, a condominium community in Puslinch with mobile and modular homes. Her plan is to put a three unit modular home in on the property; she hopes to rent out one unit and she and her boyfriend will live in the other two.

“We’ll see how living in 600 plus-ish square feet will be. But right now, I have a room at my parents’ house, so what’s the difference really?”

Papp is so impressed with modular homes that she’s also decided to do some freelance work for Habitat28, promoting this style of living to others.

She’s hoping to move into her own modular home in the next few months.

“So if all things go well, including the closing date for the land as well as the permits, then it would be end of September beginning of October time frame, which I’m really excited about.”

Modular home company shuts down Kitchener operations

At the end of June, Z Modular, a division of the U.S.-based Zekelman Industries, announced it was closing its factory on Manitou Drive in Kitchener.

In a media release announcing the decision, the company described challenges operating in Canada.

Poddar said seeing another modular builder close up its Canadian shop is unfortunate, and it should be a wakeup call.

“For them to shut down their Canadian operations, it is time to start looking at this problem more seriously. For companies to start shutting down, it doesn’t bode well for the country,” Poddar said.

Poddar said that modular housing is much more accepted and incentivized in the United States, and in Europe as well. He warns if modular home builders continue to struggle in Canada, it’s likely more will leave the country.

His message to government: “We are here to help. Allow us to do our jobs.” Top Stories

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