Building In Remote Areas: The Challenges & Cost of Construction in B.C.
The same natural beauty that attracts people to British Columbia (B.C) can become quite an obstacle for commercial construction. The range of diverse landscapes (rocky coastlines, beaches, forests, mountains, grassy plains, and deserts) is breathtaking but poses a unique challenge for developing sites. It’s why the cost of construction in B.C. can add up quickly.
If you’re looking for ways to keep your site construction plan on track, modular construction could be a better solution for your needs. The process for creating modular buildings has become a lot more sophisticated, to the point where you can enjoy the same benefits of traditional construction without the headaches.
Below we’ll explore the costs and challenges of remote commercial construction and show how the modular process can help you circumvent them.
What Factors Into The Cost of Construction in B.C.?
The cost of your project will vary based on the factors surrounding it, but usually are determined by:
- Supplies and material
- Transportation and site logistics
- Square footage & number of stories
- Interior mechanical systems (HVAC, etc.)
- Electrical systems (lighting, etc.)
- Commercial permits required by B.C.
Recently, the cost of construction in B.C. was driven by a rising cost of supplies such as structural metals. (They were affected by supply chain issues during the pandemic.) The same can be said for other building materials.
However, data shows that commercial construction costs are stabilizing across Canada and should continue to for the upcoming years. There will be natural fluctuations, but not at the extreme pace the pandemic introduced.
To estimate the loose costs of your possible project:
- Calculate the total area of your building plan.
- Multiply it by your commercial construction cost per square foot.
- Figure out the total cost of electrical and mechanical fixtures for the building and add it to the total you found in step 2.
- Account for any other add-ins not included above, such as the cost of permits.
While factoring those details in to estimate your total project budget can help you plan, it’s always a good idea to include some extra room in your budget for the unexpected. Especially if you’re developing a site in an isolated area. There could be higher costs associated with transportation or labour since access to the job can be more challenging.
3 Top Challenges Remote B.C. Construction Teams Face Today
If your company is looking at developing land in a remote part of B.C., you’ll want to go into your project prepared to deal with some of the following challenges.
1. Material Cost Increases & Delays
While the cost of materials surged during the pandemic due to supply shortages, there are still plenty of other reasons you may run into cost increases and delays. Sometimes other factors like natural disasters, equipment malfunctions, or political issues (like tariffs or embargoes) can disrupt pricing and timing in our globally connected ecosystem.
On top of that, it’ll cost more from a logistics standpoint to get certain materials out to your job site. There may be limited routes for delivery, meaning you have to either have to pay more or make compromises to obtain the supplies on site. And if damage occurs during shipment, you’ll end up spending more waiting for the next delivery because of the delay in your project’s timeline.
2. Shortage of Skilled Trade Workers
The demand for skilled trade workers in construction has been increasing in B.C. But the labour market for construction jobs in B.C. has not developed at the same pace.
There’s a large need for more aggressive recruiting tactics in this industry, especially as some of the workforce population is nearing retirement. At the moment, there aren’t enough young people entering the industry to offset those leaving it.
Until enough labourers are recruited to enter construction, commercial projects will feel the effects of the shortage within the next several years. And not having access to the labour you need (or enough of it) will slow down your project as well, which in turn can add up to more money spent than planned.
3. Difficult Site Access
While we touched on the difficulty of getting materials to an isolated area, there are plenty of other issues associated with a hard-to-reach job site. One is simply the logistics and safety of your crew.
From needing a place to lodge your crew to keeping them safe on the job in a more extreme environment — a remote construction site has lots of challenges. More workers can increase the chance of injuries, but depending on your location getting medical assistance could be difficult. The scarcity of close resources ultimately makes it a more dangerous environment for labourers.
And aside from being creative in getting people and supplies safely on site, you’ll also need to figure out the logistics of bringing building equipment. Some of the routes of access may end up costing you much more than anticipated, especially if resources like paved roads or fuel are scarce.
How Modular Construction in B.C. Can Overcome Those Challenges
The modular building construction process has come a long way and a lot of the old myths about modular (eg., they aren’t sturdy, they don’t look nice, etc.) are simply no longer true. If you partner with a reputable modular manufacturer you’ll find you can get a solution built exactly to your needs that provides a better experience than traditional construction.
Above we discussed some of the barriers you’ll face when developing a remote site. But next, we’ll look at how modular can help you mitigate those to stay on track with your timeline and within budget.
It Saves On Building Materials & Costs
As construction costs in B.C. rise, it’s wise to look for alternatives. And while modular can save you money, it’s not because of the myth that the buildings are cheaply crafted. In fact, modular uses the same architect-specified materials as traditional projects.
It all has to do with the modular building construction process, which is simply more efficient than traditional construction. Because everything is assembled in a controlled environment before reaching the job site, there is less waste of materials.
That process also allows for better sustainability practices. Off-site construction results in better inventory control and material reuse, so you can keep your new project in line with your company’s ESG goals.
Plus, because the building fabrication and site preparation are occurring at the same time, modular can shorten your timeline. And you won’t have work paused for factors like poor weather conditions, which often lead to project delays for traditional construction.
It Requires Less Labour On the Jobsite
Since the fabrication happens offsite, that means fewer skilled labourers are required on location. And since remote areas can create more dangerous working conditions, this is a win. It means you don’t have to expose as large a crew to those risks.
Plus, you don’t have to spend as much time and money on the logistics of getting the crew there. And if you need to accommodate them in temporary housing, again you’ll be able to spend less on it than if you had a full construction crew.
It Is Easier to Transport
Depending on where your remote location is in B.C., the logistics of getting all the pieces there could be extremely costly and challenging. Your project could mean traveling rural roads through harsh conditions requiring alternative transportation methods by air or sea.
Again, since there are fewer raw materials to transport that means there are fewer logistical pieces to figure out. And if you’re working with a company like Britco, you can benefit from their experience working on a variety of custom projects around B.C. They’ll provide recommendations and facilitate logistics so you can figure out the most efficient method to reach your site.
It Offers Better Flexibility Than Traditional Construction
Modular buildings are completely customizable and come in a variety of finishes, so you can get exactly the look you want. And while you can use them as permanent fixtures, they’re also still portable buildings. So in the future, you always have the option of reusing your structure elsewhere, potentially reducing the need for future construction projects.
Another plus, they’re a lot faster than traditional construction if you need to get your remote operations up and running quickly. Typically, your building will come equipped with electricity, plumbing, lighting, and even HVAC.
When you work with Britco to set up your modular building in B.C., you can even choose packages that will include the essentials. Depending on how you’re using your structure, packages cover kitchens, offices, conference areas, and stairways or ramps. This means you have fewer headaches assembling the structure you need in such an isolated area.
Ready to learn if modular is the right option for your remote construction project?
Ready to solve your space needs?
Modular buildings are the way to go. Request a quote or contact us today to get the conversation started. We’d love to talk to you about how modular can meet — and exceed — your needs.