Building a Custom Home on a Remote Island
July 22, 2021

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Hayden Killam of Black Thumb Contracting Ltd. is an award-winning, Vancouver-based luxury custom home builder. Hayden is an independent contractor and has worked on many construction projects for Linwood Homes builds throughout BC. After years of building Linwood Design and Material packages, he has decided to build a Linwood home of his own on beautiful Gambier Island. 

building on a remote island

In the Family 

Hayden brought the Linwood team along to take a look at the build site, tour the new cabin and see the progress he’s making on the project. It’s truly breathtaking to see the coastal property first hand. 

“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had the opportunity to build on our own family property and hand it on to the next generations to come,” says Hayden. This island lot has been in his family for over 80 years. 

custom linwood home

Building a Home on Remote Property 

Building on a remote island is no easy task. With no power and the island’s distant location, there are certain challenges that emerge and ultimately, a lot can go wrong. 

Hayden explains – with regards to getting materials to the remote island, “you need to be very well organized.” “The entire process has to be planned well in advance. You don’t want to leave anything to chance, you have to be very careful and methodical.”

There was a lot of planning, communication, and coordination that took place in order to organize shipping the Linwood package and materials to Gambier Island. 

A barge from Horseshoe Bay was loaded and used to transport the Linwood home packages from the mainland out to the island. With the barge docked right below the building site, Hayden had helicopters from the Sunshine Coast fly in and lift the packages, placing them one by one onto his build site. Hayden oversaw the entire process and was there to help with direction and hands-on work. 

“We did 55 helicopter drops in 4.5 hours,” says Hayden. When you’ve got a remote property like this, the key is to stay organized and have everything planned and booked up well in advance. 

unfinished home interior

Building Tips from a Luxury Custom Home Builder 

As an experienced custom home builder, Hayden had plenty of tips for those looking to build their home for the first time. He stresses that clients need to understand their property and see how it changes throughout the seasons. He suggests waiting to see what the property is like year-round before planning to build. 

Learn the Land

“We chose this design mainly because of the views,” Hayden says as he points to the stunning view of the water from between the trees. The Camano model features floor-to-ceiling windows across the entire view side of the home. This makes it ideal for those looking to maximize sight-lines on a view property. 

“People place homes wrong frequently,” exclaims Hayden, that’s one of the most common mistakes he’s seen when clients want to build custom. 

“A lot of people, they buy a property and the first thing they think is ‘we’ve got to get a building permit’ and they’re in a rush. But if you don’t know the property, you don’t know how the seasons are. It’s almost better to hold out a little bit and learn the property. Depending on which seasons you want to live on your property, it’s important to know your land and know-how your land reacts in different seasons. Many buyers are eager to get building but Hayden suggests waiting and taking some time to get familiar with the property and its layout. This can help you maximize your view while avoiding certain pitfalls like poor home placement. 

Add A Personal Touch 

As he walks around the property Hayden proudly pulls a tarp off of a stunning old-growth log laying next to the home. “This was a tree we had no choice but to take down, so we’re going to make this into live edge slabs.” He says. 

During site development, there are many things that may be required in order to clear the building site to prepare it for your home. This can include rock blasting, removing vegetation, and removing dead trees that could pose a risk to the home. 

But in certain circumstances, you can add a personal touch to your home by incorporating elements of the site into the final finished product. Many clients will save slabs from rock blasting and use them as stones in the garden. Hayden plans to use this beautiful old-growth tree throughout the interior of his home. He says “They’ll be put into the cabin as countertops, a dining room table, fireplace mantles, stair treads, whatever we can use with the product.” “It’s nice to put it back in the house.” 

Use Quality Lumber 

When you buy lumber in a lumberyard, you need to be very careful. Often, suppliers will hide warped, broken, and cracked pieces of lumber in bigger bundles. This can mean when you purchase a pallet of wood, a portion of it will be unusable.  This material is yours – you’ve paid for it. It is expensive to return it, so most builders will make due by chopping it into smaller pieces, which ends up just wasting a lot more time in framing. 

“It’s the straightness,” Says Hayden, when asked what makes lumber truly high quality. Traditionally, in lumber yards, when a builder orders a lift of lumber and opens it on site, 25% of it can be junk. Warped, twisted, cracked, yards will hide it in the middle of a bundle. 

Hayden then says “when you open up a Linwood bundle, it’s already been sorted and it’s all straight.” This means you have far less waste on-site and save time and money as a result. 

Straight, quality lumber is an extremely important aspect of building and it’s often overlooked by those planning to build for the first time. 

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Why Linwood Homes? The Complete Package 

“I’m building a dream that I can’t believe is coming to reality… it’s pretty amazing” Hayden says with a smile. 

“I’ve previously built a Linwood home about 3-4 years ago, I loved the experience. It was very easy to work with and mainly for this job in particular why I went with Linwood is I have a very busy lifestyle back in Vancouver. To take on this island build I sat down and thought ‘where am I going to find the time?’ I knew with Linwood, they specialize in this, I knew they would do a whole package for me. I could carry on with my day-to-day job while they were working on my project.” 

“I also knew that the quality of the lumber is unbelievable with Linwood. The value is there and knowing that this is a remote build and everything was being helicoptered in – the thought of having unusable lumber helicoptered in was pretty terrifying. I knew with Linwood from my previous experiences that every piece of lumber you get is good lumber, they sort it purposely for these remote builds. 

Hayden notes that for many clients, building a custom home can be stressful. For many, this is their first time and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There are a lot of choices and a lot of decisions you’re going to be making when you’re building a custom home and Linwood lessens that confusion that many face. With Linwood getting that initial shell to lock up finished is a very simple process. 

The Linwood Builder Network 

Hayden Killam is part of the Linwood builder network in BC. Linwood Homes has an extensive network of builders situated across North America. These independent builders and contractors have experience building with the Linwood packages and they have extensive training in the industry. 

When you design a home with Linwood you can choose to hire your own builder to construct the home, you can build the home yourself with the right training or you can choose a builder from the Linwood builder network. Our team will be there every step of the way to help with your project and having the vast Linwood builder network means our team can build any home anywhere. 

Start Your Project With Linwood Homes

If you are interested in designing your dream home, we are just a phone call away. Connect with our team in a free consultation to discuss your project needs and goals. We are excited to work with you and look forward to hearing from you soon. Contact us or call 1-888-546-9663 to get started. You can also join our community on social media, follow Linwood Homes on Facebook and Instagram to see project updates, Q&A sessions and more.

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