Site preparation for a new six-plex was underway last week at the Houston Retirement Housing Society’s Pleasant Valley Village. (Houston Today photo)

Rising material costs boost senior housing price tag

Grants, fund raising have helped ease increases

The surging cost of building material has added about $100,000 to the price tag for the construction of a six-plex about to get underway at the Houston Retirement Housing Society’s Pleasant Valley Village.

That cost increase is mostly in lumber and plywood and is equivalent to a 20 per cent jump to the overall project budget, says society president Arnold Amonson.

The housing society isn’t alone in dealing with cost increases as reports from across the country outline what’s happening.

Most experts are explaining the increasing cost of lumber and other wood products to a huge demand for new construction, a shortage of building products, a general housing shortage, a pent-up demand from a slowdown last year because of the pandemic and low interest rates making borrowing money more attractive.

Amonson, however, says the society is able to cope with rising costs as it prepares to break ground.

“We have the means to finance thanks to some fund raising and grants,” he said.

He said society members debated about whether to proceed this year or not because of the increase in costs but decided in the end to undertake construction.

“There is no reason to believe prices will be better next year,” said Amonson.

He said construction will also help alleviate a local shortage of housing for seniors, a factor that was raised by a housing report commissioned for the District of Houston last year.

A $50,000 contribution from the Dungate Community Forest earlier this year and the selling of society memberships has helped.

And a $3,000 donation from the Bulkley Valley Credit Union will be used to purchase smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in each of the six units and the common area of the six-plex.

A further assist came last week in the form of a $5,190 grant in aid provided by the District of Houston. It’s sufficient to cover the cost of the building permit already issued by the District.

In a letter to the District council requesting the grant in aid, Amonson noted the District had done the same for each of the three six-plexes built previously.

In keeping with the design of the existing units, this six-plex will have four two-bedroom and two one-bedroom units. Each is to be around 800 square feet and there will be a large common room.

All units are rentals and are built to be accessible for people with physical limitations using walkers or wheelchairs so that there are no steps and doorways are wider.

Volunteer labour and donated machinery and equipment time combine to greatly reduce costs from what otherwise be the case, said Amonson.

The impetus for local seniors housing dates back 20 years ago when a group of people gathered to address a shortage of seniors housing in the community.

And a major step forward was accomplished when Groot Brothers donated the five acres on 11th Street.

The first six-plex was built in 2007 with the second one coming in 2010 and the third in 2015.