Sakku Innovative Building Solutions’ (SIBS) recent sale of 22 modular units to the Nunavut Housing Corporation (NHC) represents another big moment for a company that some believe could change the complexion of the construction industry in the territory.

“This is what we aim to do: Start changing the landscape of the construction industry in Nunavut,” said Guillaume Guida, vice-president of Sakku Investments Corporation, the Inuit-owned corporation behind SIBS.

NHC and SIBS announced the deal in a joint news release on June 6.

Roughly two thirds of the 22 units, which will be built in Quebec, will be shipped to the communities of Arviat, Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, Arctic Bay, Gjoa Haven, Taloyoak and Cambridge Bay. There, they will be installed by NCC Development Limited (NCCD), and used as temporary accommodations for workers who are building 132 new public housing units.

The remaining eight units will be sent to Sanirajak, Kinngait, Sanikiluaq and Pangnirtung, where the Department of Family Services (DFS) will use them for transitional housing, staff accommodation, and other important functions.

“These units were really designed for the purpose they’re going to use right now, which is construction workers groups and then conversion into affordable housing or another type of use,” Guida said. “They’re not the same thing as a single family home exactly. There’s been some adjustment to the design so that they have that flexibility.”

Weather permitting, the units will be ready for occupants within weeks of their arrivals in the aforementioned communities.

“The main advantage is that once they arrive to the site, they only take about four weeks to set up before they’re move-in ready,” Guida said. “Considering the short construction season [in Nunavut], this allows the work to be done ahead of time in the factory, during the winter season. At the end of the day that means you have more units available in the North faster.”

SIBS made a splash last year when it produced two prototype five-plexes, which were constructed in collaboration with RG Solutions Quebec and later shipped to Arviat and installed there.

The whole process took the company less than 10 months.

“The average currently, with traditional construction methods, is about 18 to 24 months for one [five-plex],” he said. “So it’s more than twice the speed.”

“That was our pilot project. We will certainly get faster as we gain experience.”

SIBS is currently developing a factory in Arviat, similar to the one that it has been using in Quebec. It is expected to open in 2025, at which point it will become the company’s construction headquarters. The bulk of its workforce will be made up by locals.

The heated factory, which will run year-round, will also house a training centre, where people will prepare for jobs with SIBS, or with other construction outfits across the territory.

Guida considers that a “more important” function than the construction itself.

“This is where we aim to to do things differently than other construction companies,” he said. “Our training centre will be training apprentices, getting new people into the market every three to four years, depending on the trade. We are doing this while manufacturing quality houses. Plus, we do this all year round.”

“That’s how we feel we’re bringing something different to the table to help resolve the housing crisis,” he said. “Training for Inuit by Inuit, and homes built for Inuit by Inuit.”

SIBS’ ambitious plans have been met with some skepticism – particularly given the price tag of the Arviat facility, which has been adjusted from $30 million to roughly $50 million in the wake of the pandemic.

If SIBS is able to deliver the 22 units it sold to NHC as planned, it will certainly quiet some of its doubters, but Guida believes the company has already proven itself.

“I think we’ve already shown a lot of people what we can do with our two five-plexes,” he said. “The quality of the product we’ve done so far speaks for itself.”

By Tom Taylor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 14, 2023 at 10:23

This item reprinted with permission from   Nunavut News   Iqaluit, Nunavut
Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated

Comments are Welcome - Leave a reply below - Posts are moderated