It all began with a couple of bunk houses. Halifax architect Nicholas Fudge was already designing beautiful residential and commercial buildings from his own firm when his friend Steve Chiasson approached him with an idea. He wanted two bunk houses for his cottage and thought it’d be cool to have them pre-fabricated, and delivered to the property.
“That’s how the ModPod started, we built the first two in a boat building barn in Antigonish, and we made so many mistakes,” says Fudge. The ModPod—a 12 feet by 16 feet building with high ceilings and lots of light—was also the beginning of Chiasson and Fudge’s collaborative project East Coast Modern, maker of prefab living spaces that focus on modern design and cost certainty and are anything but homogenous. After a year or so of marketing, summer 2014 marked the first busy build season— and after completing six projects the word started to spread.
“I think smart design and I think the accessibility,” says Fudge of why East Coast Modern caught on so quickly. “This idea of pre-fab in terms of limiting complexity for the client. We can build in the winter and even the foundations, we can screw those into the ground in the winter time. It is affordable, there’s not question and the big thing is cost certainty...they understand what they’re getting.”
Many of East Coast Modern’s creations are being used as extensions of the home, whether a fitness space, guest house or office (Fudge has one in his north end backyard, as does musician David Myles)—they’re an easy and affordable alternative to renovations of add-ons starting at just $22,500. From the ModPod came the HotMod (a wood-fired wet sauna and studio space) and the ModHaus, a larger prefab building that starts at 1,100 square feet with two bedrooms and bathrooms, or the slightly smaller ModHaus mini.
“There is kind of a creativity, whether people are using them for writing, working, designing, yoga—one guy is using it as a gym. I do think the big market for us is the recreational properties,” says Fudge, who’s been seeing high demand for small cottages lately, which the ModHauses are perfect for. “The big use of the ModPod is kind of expanding your property in the urban environment without having to do a big renovation, it’s a bit of a retreat. For the homes it’s predominantly recreational.”
Last summer, East Coast Modern even teamed up with the Halifax Independent School to build the ModClass—a modern, bright and stylish take on the old portable classroom—yet another evolution of the ModPod, and proof that there are plenty of options customizing these buildings. Options that Fudge couldn’t be happier to explore.
“We really take pride in what we’re doing. It’s not super-duper over the top expensive. They’re really well-built, we used local durable materials. We want to use real cedar and real wood,” says Fudge. “We’re bringing modern architecture—it’s architecture for the people.”
Interested in your own backyard escape or prefab cottage? Find more East Coast Modern at eastcoastmodern.ca