Tod and Natasha Fox have a new vision for vacation properties in Saskatchewan: the Smart Green Fox Box.
Their concept is being realized at Fox Box at Redberry, a development located on the north shore of Redberry Lake. Tod Fox describes the lake as one of the province’s hidden gems — home to a regional park, golf course and a migratory bird sanctuary. It is Saskatchewan’s only UNESCO Biosphere region. The couple acquired the land parcel from Natasha’s parents, who owned the property for over a decade.
Fox Box at Redberry is comprised of seven structures: a 960-square foot central residence, surrounded by six 480-square foot bunkhouses, or ‘Fox Boxes’. The couple found inspiration for the concept in a design magazine. “They called it the ‘clustered cabin look.’ We thought, we want something like that,” says Fox.
“We wanted our property at Redberry to be larger than a typical cabin so we could comfortably have our own family reunions or rent to other large family groups.”
Fox Box at Redberry is a vacation property located on the north shore of Redberry Lake. The unique development includes a 960 square-foot central residence, surrounded by six 480 square-foot individual bunkhouses, or Fox Boxes. 3D CONCEPT RENDERING BY VERECO SMART GREEN HOMES.
The project was influenced by the couple’s experience operating an Airbnb property in Saskatoon. “We realized there is a new psychology for family travel. A lot of the people who rent our place are in town for a family event. They prefer to have their own space close by even when they’re visiting with relatives,” says Fox.
He compares the Fox Box to an executive hotel suite. “Each unit has a kitchenette, a full bathroom, a king-sized bed and a seating area.”
A ceiling that soars from ten feet to 14 feet in height gives each Fox Box a spacious feel. “The 14-foot high window wall is everything to us. When you’re lying in bed, you’re truly sleeping under the stars,” says Fox.
The larger central unit is designed as a family gathering place. “There’s a huge kitchen with a 12-foot granite-topped island, a communal dining table, a large seating area — even a projector. The family can share meals and visit in the large unit. Then everyone can head out to their own suites when they want some alone time,” says Fox.
Fox Box owners, Tod and Natasha Fox, tapped acclaimed New York architect Craig Longhurst to design Fox Box at Redberry. 3D CONCEPT RENDERING BY VERECO SMART GREEN HOMES.
Tod Fox is an independent mining consultant, with an MBA in international business and a BA in psychology. He has lived across Canada and around the world, and transferred to Saskatoon with BHP Billiton. His wife, Natasha, is a French immersion kindergarten teacher and a Team Canada Olympic wrestler.
“Being a consultant, my job is to question everything — to reduce costs and come up with business solutions,” says Fox. With that mindset, they set about challenging traditional construction practices with the Fox Box. They embraced innovative methods and materials, from foundation to roof.
Each Fox Box sits on concrete piles, supported by steel I-beams rather than traditional engineered lumber. “My research revealed that used steel was much cheaper than traditional lumber, about a quarter of the cost. And it means we’re preventing those materials from going to a landfill,” says Fox.
To enhance quality control and speed up construction, preference was given to pre-finished high quality materials. One example is the use of pre-finished plywood panels for interior walls, rather than traditional labour-intensive drywall.
Energy efficiency is another priority for Fox Box. “We’re using structural insulated panels (SIP) because of their extremely high insulation values. The speed of SIP installation is terrific. We can close in each unit in a day and a half. And by designing the units to be 20 by 24 feet, we’re not wasting product,” says Fox.
Fox anticipates that all seven buildings will be enclosed within the next few weeks and interiors completed over the winter. “We’re building them for our family’s use, but will also be renting them out starting May 1,” says Fox.
With the Fox Box model established, the couple has now entered into a partnership with Vereco Smart Green Homes to sell and build more vacation properties in the province.
“We’ve signed a memo of understanding with them. Vereco will be involved on the sales side and will be doing the energy modelling. The goal is to construct Fox Boxes to be 50 per cent better than code. We’re also looking at what it will take to get to a net zero home in the future,” says Fox.
“Vereco really believes in our process, methodology and material selection and thinks there is great potential for this, particularly in northern Saskatchewan.”
The Fox Box model also could be applied to other developments, he adds. “I think it would be an honour to see what we’ve created used for a healing or rehabilitation centre. I think we’re all moving forward to something truly special for Saskatchewan.”