NEXT MEETING

The first face-to-face meeting of the CHBA Factory-Built Modular Construction Council will take place on May 8, 2017 in St. John's, NL. Registration details will be posted soon.

 

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Shared Vision

Posted: 
November 15, 2013

by Vib Reid

Working together, a leading real estate developer and a factory-based new home builder are helping to make the dream of homeownership a reality for Saskatchewan families earning less than $70,000. Innovative Residential is a young company with a strong vision to build attractive communities with homes people can afford. As housing markets boom, incomes may not keep pace. Some people are left behind, their housing dreams slipping between their fingers.

A unique down payment assistance program developed by Innovative Residential in conjunction with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the City of Saskatoon and the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, helps people ease into homeownership via a rent-to-own program for tenants in the company’s developments.

One of the keys to achieving the goals of the program was the approach taken to build the homes, so the choice of builder was crucial. Innovative Residential needed a company “with an open mind, willing to collaborate, and able to deliver,” says Tyler Mathies, Co-Founder of Innovative Residential. They wanted to develop the product together with the builder, looking for the quality and process that would give them the greatest value within an affordable budget.

Enter Grandeur Housing, a factory-based building company located in Winkler, Manitoba. The company has been in business since 1976, building residential, commercial and industrial projects, and continues to grow. “We had always prided ourselves on being leaders in our field and saw the potential to keep on growing and expanding,” says Derek Hiebert, Grandeur’s Chief Operations Officer.

The first venture was Hartford Greens, now sold out. Grandeur and Innovative Residential designed the homes and developed the entire building process, on and off the site. The result was a highly efficient process that was orchestrated with precision.

The first phase of the project consisted of 42 townhouses. Over a two-month period, Innovative Residential built the foundations at the site, while Grandeur built 84 modules in the factory (two 20 x 34 ft. modules per home). Each module was largely completed before leaving the factory, with the walls painted, the flooring in place, and cabinets installed. Virtually all that was left to be done at the site was fitting the modules together, completing electrical and plumbing hook-ups, and exterior finishing. Each two-storey townhouse was 1160 sq. ft. plus basement, with three bedrooms, one and a half baths, and an attached garage.

Delivery of the modules to the site and installation by crane had to be carefully organized. “The less space there is at the site, the greater the difficulty moving modules around or storing them short-term,” explains Derek. “This is where attention to timing and details becomes crucial. In a matter of weeks, an entire site goes from excavation to full development where workers are busy putting the final touches on all the homes. It is an amazing transformation to anyone seeing it for the first time.” Derek estimates that the use of factory-built modules reduces construction time by 25 to 30%. “This translates into significant cost savings and contributes to the affordability of a project. It is also a great benefit for investors in rental housing, as they can start earning rental income sooner.”

The Hartford Greens project was followed by other Innovative Residential developments built by Grandeur Housing: Bella Vista, Hartford Crossing, and most recently, Town Square Villas and Poplar Grove. In every case, Grandeur Housing and Innovative Residential worked through the design, the process and the logistics together to arrive at the most effective approach.

“It’s all about value,” Derek notes. “It’s about quality at the front end, and about consistency which saves at the back end. We are always learning, always looking to fine-tune wherever we can.” “But most of all,” he says, “it’s about a vision of partnership. Modular construction can be applied, in many different scenarios, as a joint effort by factory-based builders and site builders. We don’t see it as ‘us versus them’. We see the promise and the opportunities to be had in working together.”