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Delta interested in faster way to deliver rental housing

Unless you find a basement suite, it’s tough to find an available rental apartment in Delta as the vacancy rate for purpose-built units is at 1.3 per cent
Only a small proportion of housing projects are currently built off-site in B.C. at about five per cent of new construction, according to a Metro report. OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay

The City of Delta has indicated its interest in joining a Metro Vancouver pilot project to explore pre-approved building plans and offsite construction to streamline the delivery of rental housing.

That’s according to a staff response to a letter to council from Mayor George Harvie, on behalf of the regional district in his role as chair to member jurisdictions, in an effort to identify municipalities interested in joining a project led by the province government.

Harvie said exploring new technologies and modern methods for delivering rental housing such as off-site construction has the potential to drive housing supply, affordability, climate action and construction sector innovation in the region.

A Metro staff report to the Regional Planning Committee says the average number of months to complete an apartment project in B.C. is greater than most other provinces and has been trending upwards during the past decade. It currently requires 22 months of construction on average for an apartment project to be completed, in addition to time required prior to the start of construction for planning approvals.

Off-site construction, including prefabrication, building component parts off-site, panelized construction and modular construction, can reduce project delivery times, as well as reduce costs by 30 percent, the report notes.

The report adds there are many benefits to off-site construction using prefabricated components, including mass timber used in modular applications, while they have potential to significantly accelerate construction schedules.

The use of building components prefabricated offsite in factories or warehouses can also create significant efficiencies and eliminates costly delays, as they can be manufactured in advance and rapidly assembled on site, minimizing disruption in established neighbourhoods.