For many Canadians, the official arrival of Spring heralds the beginning of cottage season. Snow may be meters deep in various corners of Canada, but the nation has turned its thoughts to what's coming next -- warm weather -- no matter how far away it may actually be for most of us.

With cottages (substitute "camp," "cabin" or the appropriate local term) on the collective Canadian mind, this seems a perfect time to introduce an innovative solution to "priced out of reach" recreational property.

Land prices continue to increase in many popular vacation areas across the country. Ontario's Muskoka is certainly leading the way with its million dollar "cottages" that are larger than most homes. Property values might be discouraging enough for buyers, but add escalating construction costs to the mix and many would-be cottagers are shut out of the market altogether.

One enterprising Ontario firm may have an instant solution to some of your cottage frustrations. DuraKit's "Instant House™" could be your instant cottage.

DuraKit Shelters Inc., based in Bradford, 30 minutes north of Toronto's Pearson International Airport, manufactures a unique, attractive, one-story, pre-finished housing system that is sold to customers around the world in kit form. The relatively light-weight Instant House™ can be cost-effectively shipped to any location in knock-down form and then, without heavy equipment, assembled quickly by 2 people even if they have limited construction skills. This affordable, permanent or short term housing system can be as small and simple as a 100 square foot shelter, or as large and complex as a multiple-story building that incorporates conventional building systems like truss roofs.

Ideal as cottages or secondary buildings on recreational property, the durable Instant House has also served as everything from school rooms and interior office buildings, in industrial plants, to migrant worker housing and hospital clinics. DuraKit's Disaster Relief Unit (DRU), originally designed as emergency shelter and for repeated dismantling and reassembly, has become popular for camping, hunting or fishing cabins, playhouses, cottage bunk houses, and utility buildings. The DRU is supplied in a crate, which when opened, becomes the floor of this shelter.

This small company that builds small houses, has big dreams. The mission and vision of DuraKit are aligned with the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2000. The United Nations System assigned UN-HABITAT the responsibility of assisting Member States in monitoring and gradually attaining the "Cities without Slums" target also known as "Target 11," which aims by 2020 "to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers."

DuraKit's President and Founder Rod Doran, was building large expensive homes when he became interested in the challenge of developing practical, affordable housing for the world's homeless. After four years of research and development, his team formulated environmentally-friendly building practices that incorporate the use of termite proof, waterproof, fire-retardant, and fungus/mildew-proof components. The patented joining system enables these buildings to withstand hurricane force winds, seismic stress measured at over an 8 on the Richter Scale, and heavy snow loads. Typical DuraKit shelters range from 10 to 250 square meters (100 to 2500 square feet) and greater. DuraKit team helps ensure each unit meets even the strictest building code and bylaw requirements.

The award-winning design ensures high-quality shelters and permanent buildings that are reportedly at least 50 per cent cheaper to build than conventional and prefab housing for a number of reasons:

  • Compatibility with standard wood-frame dimensions, allowing the use of standard doors, windows, and insulation.
  • Interchangeable wall sections which provide flexibility in locating the pre-cut window and door openings anywhere in the building.
  • Design for maximum flexibility to incorporate available local building products
  • Light-gauge structural steel framing and truss systems which allow the expansion of housing designs. The metal framework can be clad with plywood, OSB, concrete board, or DuraKit's fibreboard product.
  • Exterior finishes which include standard stucco lines, a complete line of exterior vinyl and aluminum siding, and Rock Siding, a mortarless exterior brick siding which requires no drilling, screwing or adhesive.
  • Use of 100 per cent recycled material in line with DuraKit's sustainable technology philosophy.

This merely leaves you with the challenge of finding an affordable parcel of land.

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