ARK’s first new-build project – a tiny home for the Trusty family in Frank Sound – will be a genuine product of community kindness.

Funding for the enterprise was bankrolled by Artex Risk Solutions, ARCO Architectural Services designed the home at no cost and much of the labour for construction will be provided free of charge.

The project has been through planning and should be green-lighted by the Building Control Unit this month.

Work could begin within weeks and potentially be completed before Christmas.

James Trundle, director of Artex, said it was interested in supporting projects that made a tangible difference in people’s lives. He said his staff had spoken to ARK’s Tara Nielsen about potentially supporting the Cayman CASA housing programme.

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“She told us about this house they were trying to build and we ran the numbers and said, ‘Let’s do the whole thing’,” he said.

Trundle said the business is interested in partnering with ARK on future builds.

“The thought of anyone in this community having to live in a house that is not fit for purpose is just awful,” he added.

He said the financial services industry had weathered the impact of COVID-19 better than any other sector of the economy. Seeing the extent to which others suffered during the pandemic, heightened the desire to help.

“The last year-and-a-half really brought home how important it is, if you have a business that is doing well and you have the means to give back, it is a moral duty to do so.”

Trundle said the company already had funds dedicated to philanthropy and had been looking for projects to support, rather than simply writing a cheque.

Monica Guzman

Architect Monica Guzman, of ARCO, designed the home. She said it was a simple design, with disability access that would be built to withstand storms. Though it is a one-bedroom home, it has been designed in such a way that future modules can be added if the home needed to expand.

An enlarged version of the same design will be the basis of ARK’s next tiny home project.

Guzman said it was feasible to reduce the cost by building duplexes or multi-dwelling properties if land were made available.

“It is important to us to help improve the condition of living for people that need it,” she said.

Eduardo Bernal

Eduardo Bernal, also of ARCO, said the cost of materials, especially concrete and lumber, was a limiting factor in creating low-cost housing in Cayman.

He said prefabricated homes – built from kits – were being used elsewhere, but connecting to electrical, plumbing and water supplies elevated the cost of such solutions in Cayman.

“What Tara is doing is amazing because she is going out to find people in need and she does an incredible job of bringing together people that are willing to help or to provide funds.”

He said the mechanical, electrical and plumbing design work had been done for free by Corporate Electric and APEC had done the engineering designs pro bono.

Cayman’s Hidden Housing Crisis

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