The Glenora Farm project, situated close to home here in the Cowichan Valley, started out in an unusual way yet has grown into one of the most satisfying collective efforts of past years.

Though we were involved in early consultations from 2017, there were a few twists and turns in the road (including the design opportunity being awarded to another firm outside of Cowichan at one point) and it wasn’t until May of 2019 that David Coulson Design was approached to reconceptualize the Farmhouse for a design/build partnership that would see us to the present construction. In late September we broke ground on the new build based on our own design.

The Tricky Part

In terms of unique challenges, I think the combination of our client’s need for a multi-use space including residential functionality with a constrained funding situation for this capital project presented the toughest dynamic. The Ita Wegman Association of B.C. had very limited funds for the Farmhouse build, but our building code requirements for a live-in residence demand expensive details from fire suppression to back-up generator costs that add a lot to the budget and the complexity. The challenge was to make it work and stay on budget, so we collaborated with Glenora Farm to spark a community outreach effort for in-kind help, donations, and discounts that in part channelled DCD’s network of relationships here in the Cowichan Valley into tangible contributions from many neighbouring businesses.

The Solution

Several community-minded trades and suppliers came on board and we are eager to celebrate and share these acts of kindness with our wider professional community.

Here goes: Coast Roofing was fantastic and did the metal roof at cost, a $17,000 donation. Windsor Plywood, Trail Appliances, Thermoproof Windows, End of the Roll Flooring, Pontius Brothers, JS Plumbing, Ammeter Electric, Iconix Waterworks, Home Depot, SVI Interiors, McPherson Cabinetry, John Sawyer Custom Milling, Exchangenergy, Tech Mechanical, Slegg Lumber, Pacific Truss, Buepoint Consulting, John Ivison, Ryzuk Geotechnical, Tall Tree Lumber, Canadian Bavarian, Gravel Hill Concrete, Coastal Concrete Finishing, Valley Slinger, Matrix Marble and Stone, Nugget Glass, VI Gutters, Alliance Insulation, McLaren Lighting, Andrew Sheret, JP Building Supplies, SK Septics, Desoto Enterprises, Mount Sicker Logging all gave generously with in-kind donations or substantial discounts adding up to tens of thousands in savings for Glenora Farm.

The design itself is modest, simple, and well-aligned to its environment. Bill Robson on our staff did a beautiful job with the Farmhouse. It embraces the fields directly adjacent to the south. This is where the companions and co-workers will live and rest after a long day, able to relax with beautiful pastoral views. Sustainable design features and decisions included the re-milling of on-site trees for timber details and all the board and batten siding. Water storage tanks are placed in the crawlspace to facilitate the fire suppression system so no additional loading is put on the potable water supplies during the dry season. Live edge maple slabs from the property will be used throughout to finish window sills and other details. Reclaimed decking from Lowe’s Nanaimo, a major composite decking supplier, was fully donated. The rooms are very bright and will offer a passively warm environment in winter months.

A job of this complexity could only be headed up by one of our longest-standing team leaders. Ken Verge, our most senior employee and project supervisor, has many years in projects of this size. Making it happen is what he does best. And DCD interior designer Donna Burdulea kept all the pieces moving in the jigsaw puzzle, offering a ton of coordination and communication with everyone involved.

The Reason This Project Stands Out for Our Team

After 30 years in business on Southern Vancouver Island, it is satisfying to have the opportunity to give back to the community through this unique design/build collaboration. We have offered free design services for the Glenora Farm project, as well as reduced labour and handling fees. In May, we donated a new acrylic shower base worth $1,000 and, in total, we will have donated over $50,000 of in-kind services to this project to see it to the finish line. We have always worked as an extended family at David Coulson Design. In these times of uncertainty and intense change, this project has helped us to share in a spirit of collaboration and caring among employees, fellow tradespeople and small businesses, and with the companions, co-workers, and staff of this wonderful schooling community.

Companions photo by Katrin Batje, others by Glenora Farm