Post-fire building reclamation an arduous process

As residents of a Rutland apartment building that burned last summer can attest, the restoration and rebuilding process is a long one.

Last July, a fire broke out at Barber Terrace, located at the corner of Barber Road and Highway 33, resulting in more than 100 people living in the 35 units being forced from their homes.

The fire was believed to have started on the fourth floor and caused extensive damage to a number of units on one side of the building’s firewall.

However, the suites that weren’t affected by flames were hit by smoke or water, leaving all the suites in need of repair.

Now, nine months later, restoration work has finally been completed and repairs to the building just got underway two weeks ago, said William Kovacic from Okanagan Strata Management, which manages the building.

“It’s quite a grueling…process,” said Kovacic of the efforts to get residents back into the building. “There’s a lot of unanswerable questions that need to go through the right process.”

For example, vinyl siding needs to be replaced on the building, an expenditure that can run a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

While the siding is intact on one half of the structure, “you can’t get the same product” to clad the half that needs to be done.

As well, common practices for installation have changed. “How do you deal with that?” he asked.

He also said restoration work is a time onerous process, with the Gyp-Crete, a concrete layer on top of every floor used as a fire and sound break, having to be pulled up in the entire building because it absorbed the water from the fire fighting efforts and soaked the wood below.

That’s in addition to replacing windows and pulling out all the other items, like flooring, that were damaged by fire and water.

As well, electrical panels in parts of the building were rusting because of their exposure to water, said Kovacic.

Restoration work was completed the first week of February, and then the contracting work was tendered, beginning two weeks ago, Kovacic said.

And while he acknowledges that it “seems like forever” to move forward with the work, “you’ll start to see some differences quick.”

He estimates repair work to the building will be completed Nov. 1.


Kelowna Capital News

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