From the dirt in the ground to four storeys tall, an Oliver hotel went up in just 10 days.
“That’s the beauty of modular (construction),” Ron Mundi, owner of an 83-suite hotel currently being built in the South Okanagan community.
That 10 days is just part of the eight-or-so months from start to finish expected at the Coast Oliver hotel, with shovels first in the ground in the first week of November 2017. Between then and now, Mundi said crews got to work before the winter freeze to lay the foundation of the hotel.
Meanwhile, the building blocks of the hotel were being built elsewhere. The Coast Oliver is one of a growing number of capital projects being constructed through modular design — effectively, creating 66 pre-made units to piece together, not unlike Lego blocks.
That type of construction saves time and costs, and it negates any weather concerns with the construction, because the hotel isn’t being built from the ground up. Instead of having to transport materials up a floor each time crews are ready to move up, everything is done at ground level in units inside a factory, then transported in by truck and put in place by a crane.
There’s still a couple of months of work to do to finish the product, but for Mayor Ron Hovanes, the progress so far was astounding.
“This is crazy, because I’m just driving by right now and there is a four-storey, 85-room hotel that is built,” Hovanes said in a recent interview. “It’s crazy. They told me three weeks, and I was going ‘yeah right, this is Oliver. We don’t believe anything until we see a shovel in the ground.’”
Between now and completion, the hotel will be prepared for service — mechanical equipment, decorations and more set up in the building to make it look like a hotel. Mundi said he was concerned at first that the compartmentalized construction could make an awkward look for the hotel.
“If you’re walking in the property, you’re not even going to notice this is the modular construction,” he said.
But while the entire project won’t be open likely until at the latest June 23, making a total of eight months, even that time span is significantly faster than the 15 months projected for Mundi’s hotel in Penticton.
That hotel will be built using conventional methods when the building permits are all approved, and will be a total of 95 guest rooms, compared with the 83 in Oliver.
But the Oliver hotel isn’t the only project being built in the area using modular methods — Ken Kunka, building permit manager with the City of Penticton, said a single-family housing project on Penticton Avenue has already been built using modular construction.
As well, an eight-storey mixed-use building on Backstreet Boulevard, a proposed daycare from the YMCA and a B.C. Housing temporary housing project have all been proposed to the city with modular construction in the proposal.