Smaller footprint: Kettle Creek Station embraces quality, efficiency


Turner Lane's Langord development achieves EnerGuide 80 rating

For Les Bjola, a surveyor by trade, development starts with the land.

The owner and CEO of Turner Lane Development Corporation, Bjola has spent months walking a piece of land and pondering its potential before deciding on a direction for development.

“Because I know southern Vancouver Island really well, I’ll look and look at a piece of land, and one day I’ll say, ‘That needs to be a housing development’, or ‘That needs to be a business park or a shopping centre.’ My mother calls it my ‘big canvas.’”

Based in Victoria, Bjola has been in the development business since 1983, launching Turner Lane in 1999. The company’s projects run from “soup to nuts” says Bjola, including master plans, commercial, and residential developments.

Bjola’s approach is pragmatic: watch for new ideas, implement the ones that work.

Why the Energuide label matters

Bjola’s attitude has led the company to adopt energy efficiency practices as a matter of course. The company’s current development, Kettle Creek Station, meets BuiltGreen standards, with homes achieving an Energuide 80 score.

Says Bjola, “People don’t always know what the Energuide label means, but it’s like it’s on a checklist, they know it’s good to have.”

Turner Lane Development Corporation has made use of various Power Smart programs, including an incentive supporting co-promotion of the Power Smart label, which Bjola says “has been really good for us.”

Smaller homes offer variety, a sense of community

Kettle Creek homes range from 586 to 1,600 square feet

Bjola says Kettle Creek evolved from his thinking that there was nobody building a nice quality affordable house.

 “It’s like there’s this magic line where your house has got to be really big to get a high quality product, and I never believed that,” he says. “I thought that you could do a smaller house and give them that same quality of finish.”

The largest Kettle Creek home is 1,600 square feet with three bedrooms, while smaller floor plans range down to 586 sf.

Homes use the great room concept to maximize the sense of spaciousness, while the small footprint means less financial burden, and better energy efficiency. Large homes that would overshadow the smaller, cottagefeel homes are not allowed.

“Kettle Creek helps illustrate how smaller footprint homes are great for energy efficiency,” says Doug Overholt, who works with the Power Smart New  Home program. “People who live in efficient spaces save on energy costs month over month. And Kettle Creek’s involvement with Power Smart marketing programs help buyers access that information when they’re looking to  buy a new home.”

Beyond the technical details, the real sustainability ethic of Kettle Creek lies in the sense of community Bjola has tried to develop there.

“I dislike sameness, so I wanted the street to feel like a nice warm friendly street, I didn’t want it to feel like a whole bunch of garages. You’ll notice on every house there’s a little front porch to bring people back to being neighbours again.”

Other elements of the Kettle Creek plan include narrower street widths with larger setbacks from the street to create both community and space. Bjola works closely with municipal planning departments to gain agreement for his ideas about how community “feel” can be built into the design.

“Inherently it goes back to my master planning of communities, making them safe and inviting instead of cold and off-putting. So when I go in and I look at a neighbourhood, that’s what my objective is.

“And I get great comments. People say, ‘Wow, for a small lot development, it’s amazing how much space there is, how comfortable it is.’

“You have to define affordability before you define your housing,” he continues. “Am I creating a house that the homeless can live in? No, I’m not. But there are a lot of people who just say, ‘You know, I don’t need this big old house.’”

“Maybe they want to have a second house down south, maybe they want a few more dollars in the bank, but still have a really nice house. It doesn’t have to be big to feel rich.”
Get more information on Power Smart New Homes.