Imagine five two-storey buildings, containing 46 residential townhomes, being constructed and completed in less than six months — start to finish! Now imagine these…Read More
Imagine five two-storey buildings, containing 46 residential townhomes, being constructed and completed in less than six months — start to finish! Now imagine these same townhomes being constructed in Aldergrove and transported to Pemberton, BC for on-site assembly and finishing. That’s the reality behind the beautiful Mountain Trails Townhomes in Pemberton, located 2 minutes north of Whistler.
Construction management for this project was supplied by Pacific Building Systems, which is a Canadian Project Management Company with an exceptional track record for effectively combining factory-built and onsite construction methods. Pacific Building Systems Inc. assisted Pemberton Townhomes Ltd. in the development of the project, along with architects and engineers who worked with Shelter to detail and factory-build the wood-frame building modules.
The entire living space was factory-built in Shelter’s Aldergrove plant and transported to the site, where all 70 separately-build modules were craned onto the foundation and finished. The 46-unit townhome project is the first factory-built residential project in Pemberton.
Factory Construction: An Easy Choice
So why factory-build a residential project of this size? Sid Landolt of Pemberton Townhomes, owner of the Mountain Trails Townhomes Complex says, “When you’re building in a small town, costs can quickly increase due to having less access to materials and labour. Our Strategy was to use the local community for a portion of the work and off-site modular manufacture to minimize our risk. The method is especially effective when you’re on a tight deadline — it’s fast, efficient and allows you to complete your project ahead of competitors.” Mike Salter of Pacific Building Systems adds,“Factory construction probably saved us about 2.5 months compared to on-site construction.”
Dave Sharpe of Shelter reports that, “Each factory-built townhouse component was built in the climate-controlled factory by a team of 80 trades people working two shifts a day. Indoor construction meant that no days were lost due to bad weather and kiln-dried lumber stayed dry throughout the project. Consistent quality as well as speed of construction, without additional cost, are added advantages to factory construction. After factory construction, the modules were delivered to the site complete with all electrical, plumbing kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and interior trim in place — ready for final paint and floor coverings.”
Factory construction started at one end of the factory with the assembly of floors and walls. The entire module was then moved forward to receive insulation, windows, doors, and interior finishes. Even wood burning fireplaces were factory-installed.
Principals Jamie Cooke, Susan Carey and Mike Salter of Pacific Buildings Systems Inc. teamed up to coordinate and supervise the critical task of assembling the modules on-site where roofs, siding and decks were all completed.
Jamie Cooke adds, “The townhomes have the advantage of having a double-sealed roof system. Unlike on-site construction, off-site construction means there’s no settling due to drying wood, since the wood never got wet in the first place. That means no shrinkage, no settling, and none of the usual problems associated with outdoor construction. Instead, construction is completed indoors, where quality-control inspectors and other professionals such as architects, engineers and building inspectors can monitor each stage of the work. There’s even a second series of building inspections made when the factory-built components are assembled and completed on-site.”
Sid Landolt, Pemberton Townhomes Ltd. adds, “I would definitely go this route again. This construction system evokes quality and minimizes financial surprises. Modular construction means you never have to build with weather-damaged building components, since electricians, plumbers, and other trades people work in ideal indoor conditions. Nothing is exposed to the elements before its time.”
Gord McLeod of Windermere Sea to Sky Real Estate calls it the $100,000 drive. “We sold great homes at affordable prices. Just by driving north from Whistler for 25 minutes, buyers saved $100,000 for comparable Whistler Properties. As a result we called it the $100,000 drive.”
Skeptics Pleasantly Surprised
Nigel Harrison of Shelter seems to take all the accolades this project has generated in stride. “As long as I can remember, factory-built residential communities like this have pleasantly surprised the skeptics. It’s the most cost-efficient way to create a residential community that is attractive, both on the inside and the outside, while at the same time providing the owners with dependable start-to-finish quality. This project has combined traditional tried and true technologies with state-of the-art manufactured housing technologies to produce residential townhomes that will stand the test of time and provide living environment that will be owned the way they were built — with pride.”