Are mandatory sprinklers raising the cost of the 150 Rainbow duplexes and single-family homes?
That question has been on many people’s lips over the past few weeks as they look for reasons why prices at the Rainbow resident housing project are higher than anticipated.
The Rainbow developers released preliminary pricing last month: the 70 single-family homes range from $525,000 to $625,000, while the 80 duplex units range from the upper $300,000 range to around $400,000.
Tim Regan of Vision Pacific Contracting Ltd., the developer charged with delivering the 70 single-family homes, confirmed this week that sprinklers have been required throughout the development by Whistler Fire Chief Rob Whitton to make Rainbow “FireSmart”.
The reason the sprinklers are required, explained Regan, is not because of insurance issues or the proximity of Rainbow to the fire department. Rather, it is because a prevailing wind crosses Green Lake and blows up Rainbow.
“The fear is if there was ever a fire in that area, it would spread up into the hills, and that is why they (Rainbow Joint Venture partners) got that designation,” said Regan.
“We tried challenging it, but there was not a lot of push
Homes in Alpine Meadows and Emerald Estates, on the other hand, do not require sprinklers. Regan believes that is because they are not in the “eye of the wind.”
Vision Pacific has budgeted $10,000 per unit for sprinklers, though the cost may come down slightly if the company can get a discount for buying in bulk.
Altogether, the FireSmart requirements — including fireproof walls and roofs — are costing the Rainbow development slightly less than $20,000 per unit. That cost came down after Regan was able to waive the requirement of a Rainscreen, which was a $6,000 expense.
“Rain screens are for areas that are wetter than Whistler,” said Regan.
“Because of our snow and ambient wealth of humidity, we are actually not in the range that we require Rainscreening. We were being forced to put that in, but now, as of last week, we were able to negotiate and have that repealed, so that will bring down the costing.”
Ann Chiasson, a partner of the Rainbow Joint Venture, pointed out that FireSmart features are not required for Cheakamus Crossing, the other new resident-restricted neighbourhood in Whistler.
“Cheakamus does not have sprinklers, but we have sprinklers, and Cheakamaus does not have FireSmart, but we have FireSmart,” said Chiasson.
“I mean it is great. It is a safety feature. As long as people can afford it, it is a great opportunity to fireproof your house.”