Nick and his floating creation. All photos by Aziza Ahmed
Neighbours have told them they’ll surely die in a winter storm.
In the search for a life without any rules, the ocean has its appeals.
When I called up Nick, proud creator of a floating “swamp shack” built mostly out of scraps from the Salt Spring Island dump, he told me one of the biggest draws is not having to adhere to any city bylaws on fire safety or sanitation.
“The biggest thing for me is that float houses don’t have building codes, so out there you can build whatever you think up,” he told VICE. “You can’t do that on land.”
In a bay known for derelict structures, Nick’s shanty town creation has a wraparound porch with rocking chairs that wouldn’t be out of place on a Louisiana bayou. The cabin has high ceilings, lofted bunks, a wood stove, and an overall whimsical vibe. Nick describes the concept as “pretty psychedelic,” adding it may or may not have been designed on shrooms.
The house was constructed partly out of financial necessity, and partly out of a low-impact off-the-grid philosophy. Nick and his friends have been living for free and sticking it to the mansion owners up the hill for over a year. A couple of them live year round, and up to a half-dozen stay during the summer. “Before it looked like a big pile of junk—it’s such a construction zone—but now it’s starting to look like a real house.”
Of course, there are also some drawbacks to living off dry land, and Nick’s rich neighbours won’t let him forget it. When winter comes, the bay is known for some pretty gnarly weather.
“People in the bay are adamant that we’re going to die from the storms,” Nick told VICE. He says three years ago an especially brutal storm ripped some abandoned boats apart in the bay. And just last year, a week of bad weather smashed two of their docks together, which meant staging multiple emergency repairs.
But Nick says their latest construction add-ons, including a dock buffer made of tires and a sturdy tin roof, will keep them out of danger. “The way I see it is if we build it strong enough it can take the storm,” he says. “We can always leave in a dingy. It’s not too far from shore. I’m actually not a great swimmer, but it doesn’t scare me that much.”
Last month, Nick received an eviction notice, which came as a surprise, since he knew the municipality had no jurisdiction on the water. The notice said that under bylaw 355 of the Islands Trust, no dwelling is allowed on a water surface. “They came and posted it on our door while we were away,” he said.
“It looked like a formal notice, but it had no dates on it,” he added. “It’s not a legal document in my eyes, it’s pretty unofficial, they’re trying to scare us away.”
Since the house looks so different from the mansions up the hill, Nick thinks the notice stemmed from neighbours’ complaints. “There’s one main guy who whistles at us when we’re building like we’re dogs or something,” he said. “That kind of sucks. He only does it after five, so now we don’t build after five or before 10 AM.”
Nick says he first got into building as a kid. He says he was constantly constructing more elaborate treehouses growing up. That later turned into his first attempt at a tiny home when he moved from Courtenay, BC to Vancouver….
Continued via… Source: Residents of This Floating House Built from Dump Scraps Are Fighting Eviction – VICE