Saturday, April 08, 2006

Building Boom Unabated on Bustling West Shore

Soaring construction costs that cancelled a major project in Victoria aren't having the same impact on the West Shore.
Anthem Properties pulled the plug on Bambu, a 160-unit condominium slated for downtown Victoria in January, citing a shortage of skilled labour and the project's spiralling construction costs.
Although 90 per cent of the units had already been sold, Anthem CEO Eric Carlson indicated the revenue wasn't enough to cover the cost of the building.
Cost overruns and escalations in the price of material are rampant everywhere, said West Shore Developers Association president Jim Hartshorne.
However, the problems affect non-combustible concrete construction projects like Bambu more significantly than projects on the West Shore, which are predominantly wood-framed, Hartshorne pointed out.
Typically, concrete projects take 18 months to two years to build, compared to a year or less for wood-framed buildings, Hartshorne explained.
Concrete buildings are also much more susceptible to increases in the cost of sub trades like plumbing, electrical and mechanical because of the extra time required to complete them, he added.
"It's a constant frustration to price for increases in the cost of supplies and trades."
The cost of drywall just went up another 15 per cent Jan. 1, which followed on the heels of a 12 per cent increase four months before, Hartshorne cited as an example.
While the increases are a source of concern, Hartshorne isn't aware of them causing the cancellation of projects on the West Shore.
The demand for skilled labour is causing delays for completion of projects underway, however, Hartshorne said.
"Clearly, there's not enough labourers for how much work is going on," he said, adding that situation is affecting not only the Victoria region, but most of Vancouver Island.
The biggest shortages are drywallers and carpenters, particularly framers, Hartshorne said, adding that he's not aware of the same situation affecting the demand for painters, plumbers and electricians.


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