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October 17, 2022
This summer, work began on a novel sustainable and affordable housing project on Bainbridge Island. Spearheaded by architect Matthew Coates, founder of Coates Design Architecture and Interiors, the project, called reHOME, consists of three tiny houses built entirely from recycled and cast-off construction materials and appliances.
The three units are each 220 square feet. Each living space has one bedroom with an additional lofted sleeping area, a small common space, a bathroom with a shower, and a refrigerator. The units all differ slightly because of the recycled materials that were available to build them. They are also all movable, this being a requirement of the city. In the future, a deck may be added to connect the properties if materials can be sourced.
The housing is located on Morales Farm, at 8862 N.E. Lovgreen Road, which is owned by the city of Bainbridge Island and managed by local nonprofit Friends of the Farms. The new houses are being built for interns who work at the farm. An original farmhouse on the site will also be renovated to provide communal cooking facilities, gathering space, and workspace for the new residents.
Project partner, Clark Construction Inc., is building the units with the help of lots of donated time, labor and materials. “Things are moving along beautifully on the project ... the community has really come together to make this happen,” Deb Henderson, marketing and communications consultant at Clark, shared.
The home structures are on schedule to be complete by the end of the month. Septic, final power and water will then follow and is estimated to be completed mid November. At that time the interns will move in.
As previously reported in the DJC, Coates' firm developed software to track and document materials and services needed for the homes, such as sinks and siding and electrical and plumbing. Materials were also thoughtfully harvested from the architect and contractor's other projects. In particular, Clark's Bainbridge Island Police Station and Municipal Court tenant improvement was a great source for materials, especially wood, which Rachelle Turnbull, owner and founder of Clark, said was one of the hardest to source.
“The process has been fantastic and it's been really fun to focus on finding materials and thinking of innovative ways to use them in the project,” Turnbull said. “One of the biggest challenges has been to adapt the recycled materials for a strong structure,” Coates Design added.
The Morales Farm project is a pilot project. The team is hoping to develop and build more reHOME communities in the future but for now are excited to see this one come to fruition. “This project has been a great challenge,” Brian Bond, labor superintendent at Clark, shared. “It really is the culmination of the community coming together to make this happen and there has been so much comradery around this effort,” he concluded.
ReHOME's website reads that its mission “is to demonstrate that with thoughtful design and rigorous sourcing strategies, we can reduce construction waste, keep materials out of our landfills and provide affordable housing for our communities.”
Emma Hinchliffe can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.